About the University of Leicester

Wiesam Essa

We are deeply saddened to hear of the death of Dr Wiesam Essa, of Al-Aqsa University in Palestine. The University had commenced discussions with the Council for At-risk Academics (CARA) to offer a fellowship for Dr Essa, an eminent geographer, in the UK but he was killed before arrangements could be finalised.

Wiesam was an extraordinary academic who was committed to improving conditions in the Gaza Strip. He was also a dedicated father and spouse, and a kind man.  From 2019-2021, he completed Fellowships at the University of Manchester, achieving great success in his research that utilised urbanisation mapping to address environmental challenges in Gaza. 

Among his research foci was a satellite remote sensing-based analysis of water usage in Palestine partly funded by a grant from the Royal Geographical Society. Wiesam also got involved teaching on the MSc in Geographical Information Science. Despite the Covid pandemic, this was a very productive time for Wiesam and he enjoyed the international outlook of the city and the University.  

He subsequently returned home and to his position at Al-Aqsa University. Wiesam was killed in Gaza in the first week of January when his apartment block was badly damaged by Israeli bombs. His wife, though injured, survived the bombing, as did their four children. 

Wiesam had been based in the Department of Geography at Al-Aqsa University in Palestine since early 2005 and also held a part-time position in the Department of Computer Science. He studied for a BSc in Environment and Earth Science at the Islamic University of Gaza graduating in 1998 followed by a year at the Arava Institute of Environmental Studies at Tel Aviv University. 

In 2004 he completed a master’s degree in Land Degradation and Conservation in the Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation at University of Twente in the Netherlands. Wiesam then spent three years (2008–2011) as a PhD researcher in the Department of Hydrology and Hydraulic Engineering at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Belgium. The title of his PhD thesis is: Thermal Subpixel Estimation in Urban Areas with Spaceborne Sensing. Wiesam made many friends at VUB and the knowledge and skills he developed there shaped the rest of his career.  

We send our deepest condolences to Wiesam’s family and to the academic community who knew him.

Dr Wiesam Essa 
Born 20/02/1975 
Died January 2024 aged 48  

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