Black and white photo of Nickolas Faust.

Remembering Nickolas L. Faust


Nickolas L. Faust passed away on Monday, May 17, 2021. Faust was the head of the Image Analysis and Visualization Branch Electro-Optics, Environment and Materials Laboratory at Georgia Institute of Technology. Nick was past president of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International (DFGFI) Board of Directors. He made many trips to Rwanda collaborating with the Fossey organization to map gorilla habitat for research and education purposes. 

He continued as a part time professor and resident scholar at Georgia Tech after retirement and touched the lives of many students and research faculty.

"Nick Faust played a unique role as an advisor, a mentor, and a seer who foresaw new challenges and prospects at the Center for GIS, now the Center for Spatial Planning Analytics and Visualization. I am extremely grateful to him for his mentorship, especially during my first few years as director of CGIS. Throughout his association with the center and with SCaRP, he was extremely generous with his time and effort offering both freely for research and teaching. He donated his time for co-teaching the remote sensing course for over a decade. He was highly respected in the larger scholarly community and well-recognized for his contributions to GIS and remote sensing -- having been one of the founders of the first commercial remote sensing software companies. It is hard to find someone like Nick who is intensely and selflessly committed to the discipline and to the people who nurture it. He will be sorely missed."

- Subhro Guhathakurta | Director, CSPAV and Professor & Chair, School of City and Regional Planning

"I have known Nick for over 25 years as his student and colleague. Nick was always so kind and gentle. His contributions to advancing remote sensing science is immense, notably his co-founding of market leading image processing software in the industry today. What I remember the most was his key contribution in developing a 3D fly through of Olympic venues as part of Atlanta's successful bid for hosting the Centennial Olympic games in 1996. Nick leaves behind a rich legacy. We will miss his ever present smile a lot."

- Ramachandra Sivakumar | Senior Research Engineer, CSPAV

"The passing of Nick Faust is a loss of one of the most insightful, innovative, and visionary remote sensing scientists. 

After spending time in NASA and witnessing the first years of the Landsat program, Nick returned to GTRI where his collaborative work with Lawrie Jordan and Bruce Rado, became a leading remote sensing software.

Nick was a true legend in his field that admirably maintained his humble nature. Always kind, Nick spoke with a soft voice that demonstrated great respect and patience. I had the honor of having Nick as a teacher, a mentor, and most importantly a friend. 

After graduating, we continued to collaborate on research and publications, but the greatest pleasure was teaching alongside Nick for almost 15 years. Nick and Mike Rowan have been teaching the remote sensing class for years before, and as a student I remember not just learning from their experiences but enjoying talking to them, listening to their stories and feeling their love for the field. That devotion to the field and the success of students carried throughout the years with high demands but also great patience and love of teaching.   

I recall each semester, after a modest initial introduction to students, I would emphasize to the students the honor of learning from Nick and requested he provide some more information about himself. But Wednesday evenings were not just about teaching with Nick. Every Wednesday before class, after a full workday, we had some downtime, had coffee (decaf, with biscotti) and just talked. It was that time that I really got to know Nick and learned so much from him. With his quiet demeanor, ability to listen without being judgmental, Nick was able to provide a positive perspective to almost every situation. I will always cherish his support, wisdom and great advice, when I struggled, needed to make decisions and especially when my father became ill and passed away.

I got to know Nick the person; Nick that loved his wife Cheri, his family, friends, and his cats; Nick that enjoyed traveling (spending time in Africa with the Dian Fossey organization and taking amazing up-close pictures of gorillas in Africa) and spending time with friends in the cabin. I am grateful I was able to meet with Nick just a few weeks before he was diagnosed. When he called to tell me, he said that he is sorry he needs to give me some bad news since I was going through some challenging times. That was Nick. Always thinking about everyone else first! 

I will miss you greatly Nick. I will miss Nick the scientist, the educator and the mentor, but above all, Nick the humble, sensitive and kind person. Your contribution to science and your legacy will remain with us and continue to impact many more generations of scientists."

- Liora Sahar | Part-Time Lecturer, School of City & Regional Planning                         

"Nick Faust was a kind and humble genius. Smarter than everyone in the room yet he always made us all feel like his equal. Often quiet and pensive in demeanor, his ideas were his own and they were almost always strong, fully developed, and well ahead of their time. Always curious, never condensing, and forever thoughtful, Nick was simply put, one in a million. I will miss him dearly."

- Tony Giarusso | Associate Director, CSPAV

Media Inquiries

Ann Hoevel
Director of Communications
College of Design
E-mail Ann
Zoe Kafkes
Marketing & Events
College of Design
E-mail Zoe