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CLAS Appoints Aspinall Chair of Geography

Richard J. AspinallDr. Richard J. Aspinall, recent Director of the National Science Foundation’s Geography and Regional Science Program, and award-winning expert in the use of GIS data in the geographic analysis of environmental issues, has been appointed as Chair of Arizona State University’s Department of Geography.

Aspinall comes to ASU from the Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana, where he was a tenured Professor of Geography in MSU’s Department of Earth Sciences as well as the Director of the Geographic Information and Analysis Center.

“Geography at ASU is an exciting discipline, poised to play an key role in some of the university’s most important research and educational initiatives,” noted ASU Vice President and Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences David Young. “Dr. Aspinall is a national leader in the field and I am confident he can help the department and the units collaborating with it achieve the next step during this period of dynamic growth and transformation.”

Aspinall has had an extraordinary career both in the U.S. and the United Kingdom. He received his B.Sc. from the University of Birmingham and his Ph.D. from the University of Hull, and spent the first 15 years of his professional career in Hull, Newcastle and Aberdeen, Scotland. During these years, Aspinall developed an expertise in the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing. He came to the U.S. in 1997 to join the faculty of MSU and begin a three year Research Fellowship in Yellowstone Ecosystem Studies in Bozeman, Montana. From 2001 to 2003 he was Director of the Geography and Regional Science Program at the National Science Foundation.

Aspinall brings to ASU a wealth of knowledge of GIS and how it can be used in addressing scientific and environmental issues. His work, which focuses on the use of GIS for environmental modeling and spatial analysis, supports the investigation and geographic analysis of environmental issues.

Some of Aspinall’s studies include the investigation of physical environmental processes and geographic patterns in wildlife-habitat relationships and conservation evaluation, assessment of possible impacts of environmental change on land use, modeling and evaluation of land cover and land use change, resource assessment for land use planning at a range of scales and development of the application of spatial analysis in environmental and socio-economic modeling. Aspinall also studies some of the basic scientific issues associated with GIS, including data quality, error analysis, and the integration of environmental models with GIS.

Aspinall’s research and publications have won him many awards. Most recently, his innovative use of GIS data won him the Hammer Award from the National Partnership for Reinventing Government.

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