Cassandra Nickles

Dr. Cassandra Nickles joined JPL in October 2021 as an Applied Sciences Systems Engineer Postdoc working with Dr. Catalina Oaida and Dr. Christine Lee. Her work involves connecting NASA data to science and applications communities by creating and presenting coding tutorials for satellite data end-users and conducting research with remote sensing measurements of temperature and water quality parameters to facilitate stakeholder decision support. Dr. Nickles received her PhD in Civil Engineering from Northeastern University in May 2021 having performed research surrounding large-scale river networks and applications enabled by the upcoming Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission in the contexts of discharge dynamics and hydrologic model calibration. Her overarching passion is to serve society through remote sensing and hydrologic applications, facilitating data ease of access for a wide variety of users and science applications.


Ph.D. in Civil Engineering, Northeastern University, Boston, MA, 2021

M.S. in Civil Engineering, Northeastern University, Boston, MA, 2019

B.S. in Civil Engineering, Minor in Applied Mathematics, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, CA, 2017

Research Interests: 

Remote sensing, science applications, hydrology, water quality, data accessibility, cloud computing

Professional Experience: 
  • NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, Applied Science Systems Engineer Postdoc, October 2021-present
  • NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, Physical Oceanographic Distributed Active Archive Center (PO.DAAC) Student Intern, 2020
  • Northeastern University, Boston, MA, Graduate Research Assistant, 2017-2021
  • Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, CA, Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2015-2016
  • Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, Whittier, CA, Operations and Maintenance Student Intern, 2016

Selected Awards: 
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF-GRFP) Recipient, 2019
  • College of Engineering Cochrane Fellowship, Northeastern University, 2017
  • Jerome K. Doolan Award, Loyola Marymount University (LMU) Seaver College of Science and Engineering, 2017
  • College Scholar, LMU Seaver College of Science and Engineering, 2017
  • Program Scholar Civil Engineering, LMU, 2017
  • Presidential Citation, LMU, 2017
  • LMU Outstanding Engineering Student (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)
  • Slattery-Burns Engineering Full Scholarship, LMU, 2013

Selected Publications: 


  1. Nickles, C., & Beighley, E. (2021). Leveraging River Network Topology and Regionalization to Expand SWOT-Derived River Discharge Time Series in the Mississippi River Basin. Remote Sensing, 13(8), 1590. doi:10.3390/rs13081590
  2. Nickles, C., Beighley, E., & Feng, D. (2020). The Applicability of SWOT’s Non-Uniform Space-Time Sampling in Hydrologic Model Calibration. Remote Sensing, 12(19), 3241. doi:10.3390/rs12193241
  3. Nickles, C., Beighley, E., Durand, M., & Frasson, R.P.d.M., (2020). Integrating lateral inflows into a SWOT Mission river discharge algorithm. Water Resources Research, 56. e2019WR026589. doi:10.1029/2019WR026589
  4. Nickles, C., E. Beighley, Y. Zhao, M. Durand, C. David, H. Lee (2019). How does the unique space-time sampling of the SWOT Mission influence river discharge series characteristics? American Geophysical Union Geophysical Research Letters, 46, 8154– 8161. doi:10.1029/2019GL083886
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