Richard Thurau

Degree: Ph.D.

Adjunct Professor

Department: Aviation and Aerospace Science

Richard Thurau


Aviation/Air Safety/Aerospace Drones/UAV/UAS Fire Geography GIS/Mapping Military Veteran


  • Unmanned Aircraft Systems
  • Civilian federal government
  • Firefighting and incident management
  • Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing


Richard Thurau, Ph.D., is an adjunct professor in the Aviation and Aerospace Department at Metropolitan State University of Denver. As an FAA certified Unmanned Ariel Systems (UAS) remote pilot, Thurau helped develop the curriculum for the UAS classes at MSU Denver, which includes UAS Introduction, Operations and Image Analysis. Thurau works as a UAS drone pilot inspector for the Office of Aviation Services within U.S. Department of the Interior. He oversees the assistance in aircraft and sensor selection, coordination among airspace managers as well as data and computer resource selection. Thurau’s work has expanded the use of drones in wildland fires and prescribed burns.

Thurau took part in the planning and execution of emergency management UAS missions during the 2020 Bighorn Fire in Tucson, the Kilauea Volcano eruption in 2018 and Hurricane Harvey in 2017. He has presented the use of UAS drones for emergency disasters at the Experimental Aircraft Association conference and to the Tactical Fire and Remote Sensing Advisory. His areas of research with UAS are in remote sensing and data, sensor selection and configuration, flight planning as well as operations and safety.

Thurau received his Ph.D. in environmental science from Indian University in 2013, his master’s in forestry and natural resource management from Southern Illinois University in 2004 and his bachelor’s also in forestry and natural resource management from Southern Illinois University in 2001.

Contact Us

Tim Carroll, APR

Senior Director of Media & Public Relations

Keylen Villagrana

Media Relations Specialist

Got a tip? Would you like to submit a story? Do you want to become a local or national media resource?

Email Us Now