John P. Wilson, Ph.D., is Professor of Spatial Sciences and Sociology in the Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences at the University of Southern California (USC) where he is founding director of the Spatial Sciences Institute. He also holds adjunct appointments as Professor in the School of Architecture, the Keck School of Medicine of USC’s Department of Population and Public Health Sciences, and the Viterbi School of Engineering’s Departments of Computer Science and Civil & Environmental Engineering.

His research focuses on the modeling of environmental systems and makes extensive use of GIS software tools, fieldwork, spatial analysis techniques and computer models.

Wilson has published numerous books and articles on these topics, including two edited volumes, Terrain Analysis: Principles and Applications (John Wiley and Sons, 2000) and the Handbook of Geographic Information Science (Blackwell Publishers, 2007), and Environmental Applications of Digital Terrain Modeling (John Wiley and Sons, 2018). Much of this work is collaborative and cross-disciplinary with the goal of improving knowledge and understanding of the factors linking society, the environment and human health.

Among his numerous honors for his research and teaching are receipt of the University Consortium of Geographic Information Science  (UCGIS) Lifetime Achievement in GIScience Education Award in 2019his election as a Fellow of the UCGIS in 2014, receipt of a Lifetime Achievement Award by the International Society for Geomorphometry in 2023, the International Association of Chinese Professionals in Geographic Information Science in 2016, the Mellon Award for Excellence in Mentoring from the Center for Excellence in Teaching at USC (2005) and the Albert S. Raubenheimer Outstanding Faculty Award for his research, teaching and service contributions in Dornsife College at USC (2004).

He founded the journal Transactions in GIS (Wiley-Blackwell) in 1996 and has served as Editor-in-Chief since its inception. He has served on the editorial boards of Applied Geography, the Annals of the Association of American Geographers, and currently serves on the Journal of Geo-Spatial Information Science and the Annals of the Association of American Geographers Review of Books. He served on the Board of Directors (2003-2006) and as President of UCGIS from 2006 to 2007 and currently leads the UCGIS GIS&T Body of Knowledge 2.0 project. He is an active participant in the UNIGIS International Network, a worldwide consortium of 10+ institutions which collaborates on the development and delivery of online geographic information science academic programs.

Prior to establishing the Spatial Sciences Institute, Wilson served as Chair of the Department of Geography at USC, and was Professor of Geography in the Department of Earth Sciences, Adjunct Professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Science, and Director of the Geographic Information and Analysis Center at Montana State University.

He has held visiting appointments at the Australian National University, University of Canterbury, University of Utrecht, University of Waikato and most recently, in the Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.


Ph.D., Geography, University of Toronto, Canada
M.Sc. (with Distinction), Geography, University of Canterbury, New Zealand
B.Sc. Honors (1st Class), Geography, University of Canterbury, New Zealand
L.L.B. Honors (2nd Class, 2nd Division), Law, University of Canterbury, New Zealand

Recent publications

2023 Gizamba, J.M., Wilson, J.P., Mendenhall, E., Ferguson, L., A review of place-related contextual factors in syndemics research. Health and Place, in press.

2023 de la Haye, K., Saw, H.-W., Miller, S., Bruine de Bruin, W., Wilson, J.P., Weber, K., Frazzini, A., Livings, M., Babboni, M., Kapteyn, A., Ecological risk and protective factors for food insecurity in Los Angeles County during the COVID-19 pandemic. Public Health Nutrition, in press.

2023 Berelson, W., Rollins, N., Johnson, E., Margulies, E., Casas, N., MacDonald, B., Kim, J., Wilson, J.P., A portable sensor for the determination of tree canopy air quality. Environmental Sciences: Atmospheres, in press.

2023 Livings, M., Bruine de Bruin, W., Wilson, J.P., Lee, B.Y., Xu, M., Weber, K., Babboni, M., de la Haye, K., Under-reporting of food insecurity in surveys that ask participants to recall the past year versus the past week. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, in press.

2023 Livings, M., Wilson, J.P., Miller, S., Bruine de Bruin, W., Frazzini, A., Weber, K., Babboni, M., Xu, M., Li, K., de la Haye, K., Spatial characteristics of food insecurity and food access in Los Angeles County during the COVID-19 pandemic. Food Security: The Science, Sociology and Economics of Food Production and Access to Food, in press.

2023 Wolfswinkel, E.M., Howell, A.C., MacDonald, B., Wilson, J.P., Howell, L.K., American Indian Alaskan Native access to appropriate cleft lip and palate treatment. The Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal, in press.

2023 Lee, J.O., Lee, W.J., Kritikos, A.F., Jin, H., Leventhal, A.M., Pedersen, E.R., Cho, J., Davis, J.P., Kapteyn, A., Wilson, J.P., Pacula, R.L., Learning about regular use of cannabis during COVID-19 by studying trajectories rather than prevalence. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 64(6), 888-892.

2023 Kingsbury, P., Bahroos, N., Meeker, D., Espinoza, J., Angyan, P., Abajian, H., Abajian, M., MacDonald, B., Wilson, J.P., SEnDAE: A resource for expanding research into social and environmental determinants of health. Computer Methods and Programs in Biomedicine, 238, 107542.

2023 Zhou, A., Chen, Y., Wilson, J.P., Chen, G., Min, W., Xu, R., A multi-terrain feature-based deep convolutional neural network for constructing super-resolution DEMs. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation, 120, 103338.

2023 Chen, M., Liu, X., Claramunt, C., Cöltekin, A., Peng, P., Lotfian, M., Robinson, A.C., Golay, F., Joost, S., Ingensand, J., Wilson, J.P., Batty, M., Kwan, M.-P., Senousi, A.M., Cheng, T., Strobl, J., Bandrova, T., Konecny, M., Torrens, P.M., Zhang, F., He, L., Wang, J., Ratti, C., Kolditz, O., Klippel, A., Li, S., Lin, H., Wang, D., Lü, G., Artificial intelligence and visual analytics in understanding geographical and cyberspace: Research opportunities and challenges. Earth-Science Reviews, 241, 104438.

2023 Wolf-Jacobs, A., Wilson, J.P., Magulies, E., Promoting self-determination, minimizing green gentrification, and maximizing community benefits in urban forestry expansion: A systematic review. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 84, 127933.