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ŽIga Kokalj

Head of Remote Sensing department at ZRC SAZU
Affiliated Researcher
Cultural Heritage Technologies
Research center

Research interests

I am mainly involved in environmental studies using optical satellite imagery processing and airborne lidar processing, internet cartography, spatial analytics and modelling of natural processes, particularly from the point of view of how various human activities affect the environment, both historically and in the present. I have a particular interest in the protection of natural and cultural heritage.

Research visits abroad

I was on a three-month study visit (2006) and spent six months as an Honorary Research Fellow (2008) at the University of Birmingham in United Kingdom. I also worked for one month as a Visiting Scholar at the Icelandic Institute of Archaeology (Fornleifastofnun Íslands, 2010), and at Historic Environment Scotland (2017). I am now an associated researcher at the Italian Institute of Technology (2021).


I received the Zois Scholarship for talented students and my thesis was awarded the Prešeren Prize. During my PhD studies I held a position as Young Researcher and was funded by the Slovenian Research Agency. I was awarded the ZRC Gold Award for exceptional achievements in science (2017).

Recent projects

In recent years, I participated in two centres of excellence, six European Space Agency projects, and other international and national, basic, applied, and bilateral projects. I was a principal investigator or project partner leader of three projects funded by the Slovenian Research Agency, four projects funded by European Space Agency, one project funded by European Social Fund, two projects funded by European Regional Development Fund, one project of the INTERREG programme, and two projects funded by the Environmental Agency of the Republic of Slovenia. I was a working group leader of the ArchaeoLandscapes Europe project (7th FP), with 27 co-organizing members and 51 associated partners.

Membership, publications and other work

I am a regular active participant in scientific conferences, symposia and workshops, as well as a lecturer at foreign universities in the field of spatial modelling with geographic information systems and remote sensing (40 invited lectures). I chaired sections and was a member of the scientific committee at several international conferences and symposia.

I was member of the first French-Slovenian European associated laboratory ModeLTER – European Laboratory for Modelling of Landscapes and Territories over the Long Term (CNRS (France) – ZRC SAZU (Slovenia). I have (co-)authored more than 60 scientific papers and three books. I am also editor of the monograph series Space, place, time, published by Založba ZRC, reviewer of many scientific journals, member of the editorial board of Geodetski Vestnik and evaluator in the Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA) programme.

I conceived the Relief Visualization Toolbox, the go-to airborne laser scanning data visualization tool for archaeology (QGIS plugin, ArcGIS Pro raster functions, Python library).

Teaching experience

I share knowledge with younger generations through cooperation with the University of Ljubljana, the University of Primorska, the University of Nova Gorica and the University of Sarajevo. I also lectured at ERASMUS Intensive Programme. I (co-)supervised several master's and diploma theses at home and abroad. Six of the high school research theses I supervised won a national gold medal at the Slovenian Young Researchers Meeting. One was also awarded a first prize at the Slovenia from Space competition, and two at the International Competition of Research Projects organized by MEF Educational Institutions from Istanbul, Turkey.


I am communicative, open, creative, reliable, meticulous, inquisitive, and a quick learner. I have a serious attitude to work, good organizing skills, a felling for order and management of time and various fields of work. I am also an enthusiastic traveller as gaining an insight into cultural and natural diversity of life is one of my fundamental motivations and goals.


Title: PhD
Institute: University of Ljubljana
Location: Ljubljana
Country: Slovenia
From: 2004 To: 2021

Experience External

Title: Head of Remote Sensing Department
Institute: SPACE-SI
Location: Ljubljana
Country: Slovenia
From: 2016 To: null

Title: Head of Remote Sensing Department
Institute: ZRC SAZU
Location: Ljubljana
Country: Slovenia
From: 2004 To: null

All Publications
Stancic L., Ostir K., Kokalj Z.
Fluvial gravel bar mapping with spectral signal mixture analysis
European Journal of Remote Sensing, vol. 54, (no. sup1), pp. 31-46
Kokalj Z., Mast J.
Space lidar for archaeology? Reanalyzing GEDI data for detection of ancient Maya buildings
Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, vol. 36
Article Journal
Smerdu A., Kanjir U., Kokalj Z.
Automatic detection of japanese knotweed in urban areas from aerial and satellite data
Management of Biological Invasions, vol. 11, (no. 4), pp. 661-676
Crocetti L., Forkel M., Fischer M., Jurecka F., Grlj A., Salentinig A., Trnka M., Anderson M., Ng W.-T., Kokalj Z., Bucur A., Dorigo W.
Earth Observation for agricultural drought monitoring in the Pannonian Basin (southeastern Europe): current state and future directions
Regional Environmental Change, vol. 20, (no. 4)
Review Journal