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Building from a background in economic geography and spatial modeling, my work during the 1990s focused on issues of spatial organization associated with the location of economic agents in a competitive environment and with the behaviors underpinning destination choices. Presently, my interests relate to two broad themes, namely transportation and mobility systems, and spatial knowledge discovery. In an increasingly mobile world, the ability for people, freight, capital, and ideas to move creates new spatial structures, while erasing others. I am particularly interested in the modalities of spatial operations of transportation and communication networks and of their articulation with their surrounding regions, in technologies and policies that frame these modalities, and in the socio-economic implications on the regional context. An understanding of the complexity and dynamics of new modalities of spatial interaction is suitably gained with new computational techniques of exploratory spatial data analysis and artificial intelligence. These two themes are closely woven throughout my research and teaching.
In my transportation and mobility systems research, my work has spanned from economic development impacts of transportation-related investments, benefits evaluation of public investments in Intelligent Transportation Systems, the regional advantage of accessibility derived from freight intermodalism in domestic and international commerce (a large-scale multi-modal geo-spatial network is the core database of this project), locational data accuracy and structures compatible with the requirements of wireless location-based technologies, qualitative georeferencing of objects for embedding in location-based information services (LBS), data models and data requirements of vehicular, pedestrian, and bicycle traffic safety, to models of optimal routing and dispatching of commercial trucks and emergency response teams. Most recently my interests have turned towards dynamic processes of urbanization and the social, economic, and environmental sustainability of resulting urban settlements. In this work, we look at modeling past urbanization trajectories of the Charlotte metropolitan area (land use transformation, local and regional drifts in neighborhood quality of life), and seek to explore possible futures at fine geographic and behavioral scales as far of urban form, mobility and air quality, energy and water resources, access to urban amenities, and social equity are concerned. This research program aims at advancing research on integrated sustainability at the urban and regional scales that is socially aware and relevant to the public policy debate.
In spatial analysis, my work has particularly focused on spatial autocorrelation patterns in vectoral data such as origin-destination flows or theft-recovery location crime data, as well as data mining on networks (car crash analysis), in flow data (airline passenger flows between U.S. air traffic centers), and multidimensional geospatial databases of dialectal features. In the latter projects, self-organizing maps (SOM) have been implemented in conjunction with visual interfaces in the attribute and geographic space to tease out meaningful relationships. Recent work has centered on 3D visualization and indoor facility location modeling, and on school location optimization.
Prior to joining UNC-Charlotte in 2006, I held the position of professor in the Department of Geography at the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York. I was previously affiliated with the University of Georgia. I am currently Editor-in-Chief of Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, and the Area Editor in charge of Geographic Information Science of Networks and Spatial Economics. I also serve on the editorial boards of several other national, and international journals of geography, regional science, and spatial systems. From 1996 to 2002, I was the North American Editor of Papers in Regional Science, the Journal of the Regional Science Association International. I have assumed the position of Executive Director of the North American Regional Science Council for seven years and subsequently as President of the Regional Science Association International. I am involved in the Center for Transportation Policy Studies as an Assistant Director, the Infrastructure, Design, Environment and Sustainability (IDEAS) Center, and the Center for Applied GIScience. Since 2013, I am the Director of Project Mosaic, a social science research initiative of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
I am the 2012 recipient of the Edward L. Ullman Award for Significant Contributions to Transportation Geography, awarded by the Association of American Geographers. I have also received the Hirotada Kohno Award for Outstanding Service of the Regional Science Association International in 2012. Since 2013, I am a Fellow of the Regional Science Association International.