Wilson Receives Top GIS Honor

John Wilson, director of the Spatial Sciences Institute at USC Dornsife, has been selected as a 2014 Fellow by The University Consortium for Geographic Information Science.
BySusan Bell

USC Dornsife’s John Wilson, director of the Spatial Sciences Institute, has been named a

2014 University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS) Fellow, joining a group of the most esteemed scholars in the field of geographic information science. 

Wilson, among the world’s leading scholars in spatial sciences, was recognized for his early research in terrain representation and analysis as well as his leadership in envisioning new directions for geographic information science education and research in the 21st century. He founded the journal, Transactions in GIS, published by Wiley-Blackwell in 1996 and continues to serve as editor-in-chief.

“This selection is very gratifying because it comes from my peers — scholars I have worked with in various capacities over the past three decades — and because it shows how some of the things we have worked to accomplish at USC have captured their attention,” said Wilson, professor of spatial sciences and sociology at USC Dornsife, and director of the Geographic Information Science and Technology (GIST) graduate programs and GIS Research Laboratory.

He will be presented with the award May 19 during the UCGIS Symposium held at the Pasadena Hilton, in Pasadena, Calif., from May 19 to 21. 

Wilson, who originally trained as a geographer, is founding director of the three-year-old Spatial Sciences Institute and is widely recognized for his significant contribution to the advancement of geographic information science education and research. He holds adjunct professorships at the USC School of Architecture and the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.

He launched the online graduate certificate in Geographic Information Science & Technology (GIST) in 1998, the online M.S. in GIST in 2008, and is currently preparing to launch new online graduate certificates in geospatial intelligence and geospatial leadership, and a geohealth track in the Keck School of Medicine of USC’s online master of public health degree program in Fall 2014.

In Fall 2013, he launched a bachelor of science degree in geodesign — the world’s first. The new major, which is a joint project among USC Dornsife, the USC School of Architecture and the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy, trains students in design, planning, geographic information science and geospatial technologies.

Wilson’s research is focused on the modeling of environmental systems and makes extensive use of GIS software tools, fieldwork, spatial analysis techniques and computer models. Much of this work is collaborative and cross-disciplinary with the goal to improve knowledge and understanding of the factors linking society, the environment and human health.

He has received numerous honors for his research and teaching, the most recent being Special Achievement in GIS Awards for Leadership with Geospatial Technology in 2006, and Geospatial Teaching from Esri in 2008. In 2005, he earned a Mellon Award for Excellence in Mentoring from the Center for Excellence in Teaching at USC and a year earlier, the Albert S. Raubenheimer Outstanding Faculty Award for his research, teaching and service contributions at USC Dornsife.

The UCGIS Fellows Program was created in 2010 to celebrate the extraordinary achievements of individuals in a variety of spatial disciplines and communities of practice that use spatial information. Fellows are selected by a review committee comprising current UCGIS Fellows and members of the UCGIS Executive Committee.

A non-profit scientific and educational organization, USGIS comprises more than 60 member and affiliate institutions. It was established in 1995 to advance GIS research and multidisciplinary GIS education.