Meirah Williamson
Pronouns: she/her
University of Florida

Adviser: Dr. Esther Mullens

Focus Area:

Research Statement:
My research interests broadly lie at the intersection of extreme weather and society. My current research with Dr. Esther Mullens examines Excessive Rainfall Outlooks (EROs), which are probabilistic forecasts of flash flooding risk across the continental United States made by the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center (WPC). We are examining flash flooding events that were not forecast by EROs, and seeing if they had any economic damages or fatalities or injuries. We’re also looking at the meteorological and hydrological precursors to these damaging events to see if there are any patterns. Flash flooding events are one of the most deadly hazards in the US and world wide, so we’re hoping that we can highlight regions and/or seasons that are poorly forecast to help the WPC in improving EROs (or tell the WPC that they’re doing a great job!).

Who is she?
Meirah is a second year Master’s student in the Geography Department. She is a Wisconsin native who moved to Florida for grad school.

How did she get here?
Meirah grew up in Madison, Wisconsin, near where the Yahara River crosses the isthmus between Lake Monona and Lake Mendota. With water on three sides, the basement would flood every year, but she was able to spend hot summer days swimming in the lakes and cold winter days walking on the frozen lakes.

As a child, Meirah was made keenly aware of extreme weather events when her family would take shelter in the basement during tornado warnings. While returning in a bus from a 6th grade field trip, her entire class had to shelter under tables at a McDonald’s, when tornadoes and waterspouts made the roads unsafe. It all worked out in the end, but the experience caught her attention.


When Meirah finished high school, she attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she earned a B.S. in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. While there, she did undergraduate research using QGIS (open source GIS software) to perform spatial analysis of the urban heat island (UHI) effect on freeze warnings and frost advisories in Madison, WI. She found that urban Madison would often not dip to temperature thresholds required for a freeze warning/frost advisory when one was issued by the NWS for Madison. The isthmus (the most densely built up part of Madison) was often the warmest part of Madison during freeze warnings/frost advisories, staying several degrees on average above the temperature thresholds. Many families of color, including immigrant families, and families below the poverty line use urban gardens as a food source in Madison. This research could help the NWS better tailor their forecasts to account for the UHI effect, and make sure that people relying on gardens for sustenance know when they actually need to worry about their crops (e.g. cover them to prevent frost). “ I really enjoyed doing this spatial analysis,” Meirah said, “and seeing that — yes, there does seem to be something here that can be improved on to help the NWS improve their forecasts and thus people relying on weather forecasts; combining extreme weather and society.“

During her senior year, Meirah spent a semester abroad at the University of Copenhagen, in Denmark. When she arrived, she only needed a single class to graduate – Climate, Weather, and Plants – to fulfill a Biology requirement. This left her free to explore Copenhagen by bike – and also to spend weekends visiting Berlin, Lisbon, and San Sebastian by train.

After completing her Bachelor’s degree, Meirah moved to Berkeley, California for an internship at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab – where she developed benchmarks for the Panama Rainfall Gradient project. While the research questions didn’t perfectly align with her interests, she loved working as part of a collaborative team, which was very different from the solo research she did during her undergraduate degree.

One day, while perusing a listserv, she saw that Dr. Esther Mullens was advertising a Research Assistant position at the University of Florida, focusing on extreme precipitation, climate dynamics, and climate and weather impacts on infrastructure and vulnerable populations. It was a perfect match, so Meirah applied to become a GeoGator. A few months later, she and her bicycle moved to Gainesville.

What’s she been doing at UF?
Since joining Dr. Mullens’ lab in the Fall of 2019, Meirah has been exploring the National Weather Service’s Excessive Rainfall Outlooks (EROs) product – looking for edge cases where flash flooding was not predicted in the forecast but happened all the same. When there are few people – like in parts of the Rocky Mountains – an unforecasted flash flood has little impact on people. An unexpected monsoon in the normally arid, but high population desert southwest, can turn deadly and cause lots of economic damage. By examining the complex interplay of rain, topography, soil moisture, and atmospheric conditions, Meirah is working to identify when and where the EROs break down, to improve flash flooding forecasts.

While Meirah used GIS analysis for her senior thesis, she was learning it as she went. Now that she’s studying hazards as a geographer, she’s been building her skills in Dr. Ash’s GIS Analysis of Hazard Vulnerability. The course “really piqued my interests in how we spatially understand vulnerability and risk among communities to extreme weather,” says Meirah, who is incorporating advanced GIS techniques into her research.

Over the summer, she teamed up with fellow Master’s student Holli Capps, working as the grader in Extreme Weather. Many of the students were non-geography/science majors. Meirah enjoyed the enthusiasm of interacting with the undergrad students – who in many cases didn’t realize that they were interested in science until they took the course.

How has she been holding up during the pandemic?
The first few months of the pandemic were disorienting – due to the lack of clear messaging on what we should and should not do. Once it became clear that outdoor activities are fairly safe, Meirah became more comfortable going outside. She’s been touring the State Parks that are accessible by bike – going as far as Fanning Springs and the Nature Coast Trail, where you can get off your bike and jump in the cool, clear springs. Meirah bought a car over the summer and is looking forward to exploring more of Florida’s wild places.

Meirah has also been getting out of the house to do good in the community. The Civic Media Center’s Free Grocery Store moved from an in person store to a bag and delivery model. Meirah has been volunteering by bagging groceries to help folks who are food insecure. Now that she has a car, she’s planning on making delivery runs as well.

When she’s not exploring the region’s bike trails or helping keep our community fed, Meirah has been playing her oboe (she has played since she was 11) and watching the best season that the White Sox have had in years.


Bailey Glover
Pronouns: he/him
Graduate Representative 2020/2021
University of Florida

Adviser: Dr. Liang Mao
Focus Area:

Research Statement:
Bailey is a PhD student in the department of Geography at the University of Florida. Before starting at UF, Bailey completed his master’s degree in environmental science and policy from the University of South Florida. During this time, Bailey investigated various aspects of food insecurity in the Tampa Bay region by conducting an accessibility analysis using several GIS techniques. Some of Bailey’s main interests are found in applying GIS to investigate real world problems. His passions include transportation, urban environments, and public health. Furthermore, he is especially interested in investigating the interaction of humans and the built environment. His future research hopes to focus on how spatial networks impact various aspects of public health, most notably food insecurity and infectious disease.

Who is he?
Bailey is a second year PhD student in the Geography Department. He is a Florida native of Cuban and Colombian descent, and a first-generation student. Bailey will serve as a Graduate Representative for the 2020/2021 academic year.

How did he get here?
Bailey grew up in Jensen Beach, on Florida’s Treasure Coast. He has fond memories of visits to the Environmental Studies Center on the Indian River Lagoon, where he learned about the complex ecosystem of the St. Lucie River estuary. As a third generation Eagle Scout, Bailey spent a lot of time hiking, camping, and boating in the state parks, beaches, and islands of Martin County.

In Bailey’s earliest memories, the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon were crystal clear. That has all changed over the past 15 years, as discharges from Lake Okeechobee continue to degrade water quality, killing fish and creating algal blooms that wreak havoc on local tourism industries. During this time Bailey discovered a passion for environmental health. Determined to learn how to solve the water problems in his hometown, Bailey went to the University of South Florida to earn a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science and Policy – making him the first member of his family to earn a college degree. During his bachelor’s studies, Bailey focused on water quality issues. When he completed his B.S., he stayed at USF’s School of Geosciences, where he earned a M.S. in Environmental Science and Policy and a Graduate Certificate in GIS.

His first semester in the Master’s program was also Dr. Yujie Hu’s first semester as a new Assistant Professor there. The two of them hit it off and Dr. Hu became Bailey’s adviser. While working with Dr. Hu, Bailey shifted his focus to transportation and food deserts when he discovered the power of GIS analysis. He worked on a project that compared the distribution of solid waste facilities and the distribution of race in Florida’s urban landscapes. While the study was inconclusive, it demonstrated the power of GIS tools and raised Bailey’s awareness of how issues like pollution and access to healthcare fall disproportionately on communities of color.

Bailey and Dom in Prague, Czech Republic

After completing the coursework for his master’s degree, Bailey moved to Gainesville when his fiance Dom took a position at UF’s Warrington College of Business. Shortly after arriving, they learned that their neighbor, Dr. Vivan Haynes, ran a food bank out of her garage – helping Bailey to see food insecurity in the greater East Gainesville community. While completing his degree remotely, Bailey wrote his thesis Measuring and Understanding Food Accessibility in the Tampa Bay Area, which uses multivariate analysis of the Census’ American Community Survey data to assess patterns of food scarcity and poverty through an environmental health lens.

What’s he been doing at UF?
Bailey has been keeping busy now that he’s at UF. He continues to develop new skills and tools. He found Dr. Hu’s GIS4113 GIS6104 Spatial Networks to be particularly useful for his research questions.

While continuing work on transportation issues with Dr. Hu (who also recently joined the department from USF), Bailey has expanded his environmental health scholarship by studying Medical Geography under his new adviser, Dr. Liang Mao. He is currently combining commuting data from the Census’ American Community Survey with metrics of food insecurity from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) to characterize how transportation systems intersect with food insecurity.

As a proud gay man, Bailey feels blessed that he had very supportive parents when he came out. As a testament to his commitment to the LGBT community, he currently volunteers on a research project focused on LGBT youth mental health in rural communities in North Central Florida. The project is being supervised by Dr. Jeanne-Marie Stacciarini of UF’s College of Nursing. Dr. Stacciarini and Bailey were introduced by Dr. Mao, who is part of UF’s SEED program which provides preliminary research funding to investigate a variety of interdisciplinary issues. In preparation for the work, Bailey had extensive training to identify bias and promote safety and youth privacy. “This work is important,” says Bailey, “I might be a person of color, but I still have privilege. How are people going to excel and get out of the cycle of poverty, if people like me don’t advocate for it?”

Bailey is excited to teach his first course this Fall – GEO3427 Plants, Health, and Spirituality.

As if that wasn’t enough, Bailey is one of the Grad Reps for the 2020/2021 school year.
“I hope to promote communication between the grads. When we’re on campus, we tend to associate with the folks in the same lab. While our opportunities to socialize in person are limited, I’m hoping to put together outdoor events for the grads.”

How has he been holding up during the pandemic?
After their first year in Gainesville, Bailey and his fiance bought a house – leaving them with plenty of home improvement tasks to keep them busy. They’ve built a gazebo, have done lots of gardening including transplanting lots of bamboo, and are making sure to do lots of grilling in the backyard.

Bailey’s wedding plans for October have been put on hold for the time being. His mom, step-dad, and sister live in Germany, which complicates travel logistics.

Their house has been filled with music – Bailey plays clarinet, saxophone, baritone sax, sometimes tries the guitar and fails. He received a keyboard for his birthday and has been playing with that as well.

Cappy the dachshund loves a good hammock session

Bailey’s fiance Dom has been able to do most of his work for Warrington from home – with only occasional trips to campus. Their cats Joey and Tiny are clearly resentful of their humans being home all the time, but they salve their egos by lounging in the sun room and watching lizards out the window. On the other hand, their dachshund Cappy has been delighted to have the humans home all the time – his behavior has improved with all the socialization!


Christopher Williams
Pronouns: he/him
University of Florida

Adviser: Dr. Kevin Ash
Focus Area: Geospatial Analysis & Techniques

Research Statement: I am broadly interested in atmospheric science, disaster risk reduction, risk communication, and emergency management. My graduate research is focused on concurrent risks from tornadoes and the COVID-19 pandemic and residents’ emergency sheltering perceptions and behavior likelihood. We conduct statistical and spatial analyses on recently collected multi-state survey data to advance knowledge of this rapidly developing risk intersection associated with potentially conflicting responses.

Who is he?
Christopher Williams is a second year Master’s student in the Geography Department. He moved to Florida to pursue his Master’s with Dr. Kevin Ash.

How did he get here?
Christopher was born in Karlsruhe, Germany to a German mother and an American father. When he was 3 years old, his family moved to his Dad’s hometown of Baxley, Georgia. “For many years, I could use one hand to count the number of traffic lights.” says Christopher. Nestled among tall pine trees and thick Southern accents, Christopher grew up on the Williams family farm, surrounded by hogs, chickens, ducks, guinea fowl, corn, peas, okra, melons, cucumbers, and squash.

A farmer’s eye view of the world.

Growing up, Christopher and his 4 siblings spent a lot of time outside working on the farm. He noticed that whenever there were big weather events like hurricanes, the adults would get excited and the schools would close – most critically it also meant a reprieve from outdoor chores. This got Christopher’s attention.

In 8th grade, Christopher and his mom drove to Savannah, where he spent the day job shadowing meteorologist Mary Wicks. It was clear from then on that meteorology was one of his main interests.

Christopher’s interest in science was further fueled when his 8th grade science teacher told the class that any student who made it to the State Science Fair would earn an automatic A and would be excused from certain assignments. Armed with petri dishes full of agar and an assortment of hand soaps, Christopher then enjoyed a sabbatical of sorts for the rest of the school term.

science fair

When he graduated from high school, Christopher started out in the Servant Leadership Program at Columbus State University, but transferred to the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Earth & Atmospheric Sciences. While at Georgia Tech, Christopher had the opportunity to work as an undergraduate researcher, studying Atlantic hurricanes that struck Mexico since 1980 with Dr. Judith Curry and as a meteorology intern at the National Weather Service working with data from the Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS). When his parents and he visited Georgia Tech, Dr. Curry told them that if Christopher was going to make it in research, he’d need to earn a graduate degree. Ever since then, Christopher’s dad regularly asks him ‘how’s that graduate degree coming along?’

During the summer at Georgia Tech, Christopher joined the internship program at the Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric Research and Science (SOARS) program – an undergraduate-to-graduate bridge program designed to broaden participation of historically underrepresented communities in the atmospheric and related sciences – based at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado. The following summer, he had a second SOARS internship, this time in Miami at the Hurricane Research Division.

Christopher’s nephews visiting him at NCAR

Upon completing his degree, Christopher returned to NCAR, this time as an Associate Scientist, primarily working on various Research Applications Laboratory projects for the betterment of society. While there, he contributed to journal articles and conference papers, helped publish datasets, developed his coding and modeling skills, and served as a SOARS coach and mentor.

While at NCAR, the director of Education and Outreach (a former director of the SOARS program) introduced Christopher to a postdoctoral researcher – Dr. Kevin Ash. Christopher moved to Gainesville for the Fall 2019 semester, as Dr. Ash’s first graduate student.

What’s he been doing at UF?
Christopher is grateful to join the Department of Geography as a Research Assistant. Since becoming a GeoGator, he has been working with Dr. Ash on the Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes EXperiment-Southeast (VORTEX-SE) project. Christopher has been working with a data set that considers perspectives, perceptions, experiences, and the protective behavior around tornadoes and risk – with a focus on people in the southeast who live in manufactured homes. With the advent of the global coronavirus pandemic, Christopher is working with Dr. Ash and colleagues to assess how folks include coronavirus and physical distancing into their sheltering decisions as part of the Tornado Sheltering COVID-19 Survey project.

In his first semester at UF, Christopher took GEO6938 Communicating Science with Stephen Mullens where he applied practical strategies for engaging and effective communication and developed narrative skills for explaining scientific findings.

This summer, Christopher worked on his latest paper (non-refereed), Examining Survey Responses on Tornado Sheltering during the Novel Coronavirus Disease Pandemic, which is expected to be available shortly via the NCAR|UCAR OpenSky respository. The paper investigates how tornado sheltering needs and the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic intersect in relation to human risk perception and intended behavior for tornado threats and is based on Christopher’s work with his SOARS mentors.

How has he been holding up during the pandemic?
Living in graduate housing on campus, Christopher has been going on lots of nice long walks around campus. His walks generally stay on campus (where there seem to be fewer mosquitoes), but they occasionally extend as far as Tienda Latinoamerica on SE 13th St. While walking around, Christopher has been engaging in his favorite pastime – photography.

Christopher also has the opportunity to occasionally play (socially distant) basketball and tennis.

While navigating and accepting the challenging sloped space between isolation and a do-nothing-different approach during quarantine, Christopher is committed to pursue actualization of Maya Angelou’s saying, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”


Dr. Yujie Hu
Pronouns: he/him
University of Florida

Focus Areas:

Research Statement: I am a geographer with research and teaching interests in urban transportation, human mobility, and accessibility. My current research focuses on three main areas: 1) relationships between people’s mobility within cities—including commuting, healthcare-seeking, and crime—and the urban built environment, 2) accessibility to opportunities, such as jobs, healthcare, food, and transportation infrastructure, and how it is affected by natural hazards, and, 3) network flow analysis and optimization of travel patterns related to commuting, bike sharing, healthcare, and food delivery.

My main research approach is the development and application of GIS, spatial analysis, and network analysis techniques to reveal patterns of individual and group behaviors from big geospatial data associated with point patterns (traffic crashes, crime incidents) and networks (movement trajectory such as taxi cab GPS trajectory, smart card transaction data, and origin-destination flow such as commuting, bike sharing usage, and inpatient discharge). The goal is to convert data into knowledge to inform and evaluate place-based policies focused on transportation, land use, public health, and community safety.

“If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of ten years, plant trees; if in terms of one hundred years, teach the people.” Confucius
Hermann Park off Rice campus

Who is he?
Dr. Yujie Hu is an Assistant Professor in the Geography Department. He conducts interdisciplinary geospatial research and has worked with researchers in civil engineering, urban planning, computer science, statistics, economics, industrial engineering, political science, public health, environmental science and policy, and sociology – he welcomes researchers and students from these fields for collaborative research.

Yujie is also affiliated with the UF Informatics Institute and UF Transportation Institute, and is a Fellow with the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University. Prior to his current position, he was an Assistant Professor in the School of Geosciences at the University of South Florida and a Postdoctoral Fellow at Rice University. Yujie grew up in Yantai, China, a beautiful beach city where the Chinese national rail line terminates at a major port.

How did he get here?

Growing up in Yantai, Yujie benefited from excellent bicycle infrastructure. Despite heavy snow in the winter, it’s a great location for year-round bike riding – with low humidity and wide, safe bike lanes. Riding around Yantai, Yujie found himself wondering why roads are where they are and how planners make the location decisions – he started to bike or walk randomly on the road just to explore every corner of the city. “When you’re driving you don’t stop so you can’t look at things,’ he says. “When you’re biking and walking, you have the time to stop and look at the world around you.”

During his Master’s work, Yujie studied spatial patterns of road networks – asking what was present on the roads and analyzing road network structures. While earning his PhD in Geography at Louisiana State University, he explored commuting, travel behavior, healthcare seeking, and crime – adding movement to his work and asking how people use the roads that are present.
Yujie studies and understands spatial questions through applied studies. Using geospatial methods and techniques, he finds interesting problems and patterns, proposes mitigations, and then offers suggested courses of action.

Field work using a GPS unit on LSU campus

Yujie likes being a researcher because he can associate his questions with his personal interests like biking and transit. While a postdoctoral fellow at Rice University, he found Houston to be inhospitable to bicyclists and pedestrians. He identified and studied some particularly bad intersections and ultimately published a journal article Where are the Dangerous Intersections for Pedestrians and Cyclists: A Colocation-Based Approach in 2018. “To make things change, you have to get people’s attention and get them talking,” said Yujie. This work didn’t just yield a publication. Yujie was able to advocate for active transportation and safety – not just for vehicles but other kinds of road users – when he was interviewed by local TV stations in Houston, met with the Houston Police Department who analyze accidents and crashes, and engineers from the Department of Public Works.

What’s he been doing at UF?

Since joining the department in the Fall of 2019, Yujie has been keeping very busy. He has redesigned and taught GIS4113: Introduction to Spatial Networks, GIS6104: Spatial Networks, GEO3602: Urban and Business Geography, and has been developing GEO 4938/6938 Transportation Geography for Fall semester.

In addition to his teaching duties, Yujie has published 5 papers since joining the department: Impact of Coastal Hazards on Residents’ Spatial Accessibility to Health Services, Accessibility and Transportation Equity, Estimating a large drive time matrix between ZIP codes in the United States: A differential sampling approach, Estimating road network accessibility during a hurricane evacuation: A case study of hurricane Irma in Florida, and Automated delineation of cancer service areas in northeast region of the United States: A network optimization approach. Currently he has a publication on food deserts offering a proposed solution to food insecurity for low income and socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhoods in review.

Yujie has served as Guest Editor of the Accessibility and Transportation Equity special issue in Sustainability, serves on the Editorial Board of Southeastern Geographer, and is a Board Member of the Transportation Geography Specialty Group of the American Association of Geographers.

Additionally, Yujie has received the Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award from the Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) and won UFII COVID-19 Response SEED Funding for his project Socioeconomic Impacts of COVID-19: A Criminological Perspective (he’s hiring research assistants)

Finally, Yujie has been starting a lab – the Geospatial Network Analysis and Visualization Lab (GeoNAVI) and is preparing to welcome his new grad students in the fall.

How has he been holding up during the pandemic?

Although things may have been quiet on campus, Yujie has been busy with defenses and exams – he is a committee member on 2 PhD committees at LSU’s Geography & Anthropology Department – both students advanced to become PhD candidates. He’s also a committee member on 2 PhD dissertation defenses at USF – one in School of Geosciences and the other in the Department of Industrial and Management Systems Engineering – both students passed and earned their PhD!

Enjoying the nice weather with his family

Yujie has also been keeping busy at home. His children would really like their parents to stop working and play all day. So he has been trying hard to think of fun activities they can do together both inside and outside.

Sadly, Yujie left his beloved bicycle in his campus office when the lockdown happened, so he hasn’t been able to explore Gainesville from the back of a bike. He’s looking forward to reuniting with his bike and playing basketball, once that’s an option again.

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Follow Yujie on Twitter

M. Anwar Sounny-Slitine



Focus Areas

Areas of Specialization

  • GIScience
  • Geomorphology
  • Geomorphometry
  • LiDAR
  • Remote Sensing
  • Hydrology
  • Water Resources
  • Sustainability Science
  • Climate Change
  • Renewable Energy
  • Urban Studies

Educational Background

  • PhD in Geography, ABD
  • M.A. in Geography, 2012
  • B.S. in Civil Engineering, 2007
  • B.A. in Geography, 2007

In My Own Words

M. Anwar Sounny-Slitine is a geographer, civil engineer, and information technologist. Sounny-Slitine focuses his research and course offerings on the integration of physical and social sciences towards advancing sustainability. He is interested in how science can inform policy and applying what is learned in a GIS laboratory to the field.

Recent Publications

Sounny-Slitine, M. A., Tasker, K. A., Doubleday, K. F., Polk, M.F., Knight, B.R., & Schneider C. (2015) On Making and Becoming a Graduate. The Southwestern Geographer (18) C1-C3

Rudow, J. and Sounny -Slitine, M.A. (2014) The use of video blogs for instruction of GIS and other digital geographic methods. Journal of Geography Vol. 114 , Iss. 4, 2015

Hudson, P.F., Sounny -Slitine, M.A., & LaFevor, M. (2013) A new longitudinal approach to assess hydrologic connectivity: Embanked floodplain inundation along the lower Mississippi River. Hydrological Processes 27 (15), 2187-2196

Long, J., Sounny-Slitine, M. A., Castles, K., Curran, J., Glaser, H., Hoyer, E., Moore, W., Morse, L., O’Hara, M., & Parafina, B. (2013). Toward an applied methodology for price comparison studies of farmers’ markets and competing retailers at the local scale. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development.

Tretter, E., Sounny-Slitine, M.A. (2013) Austin Restricted: Progressivism, Zoning, Private Racial Covenants, and the Making of a Segregated City. Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis – Special Report – The University of Texas at Austin

Sounny-Slitine, M.A. (2012) Green Power. Encyclopedia of Energy, Edited by Morris A Pierce, Salem Press: Pasadena, CA.

Sounny-Slitine, M.A. and Bensalem, S. (2012) Energy Geography of Morocco. Encyclopedia of Energy, Edited by Morris A Pierce, Salem Press: Pasadena, CA.

Sounny-Slitine,M.A. (2011), “Solar Power Potential on the University of Texas Campus” 2nd Annual UT Campus Sustainability Symposium, the President’s Sustainability Steering Committee, The University of Texas at Austin

Sounny-Slitine, M.A. Editor (2011) Energy/Climate Change – Challenges and Opportunities. São Paulo: Secretaria do Meio Ambiente

Sounny-Slitine, M. A., Alexander, J., Twomey, K., O’Rourke, J., Hershaw, E., & Moorhead, S. (2011). Adaptation to Climate Change: A prospective Collaboration in Flood Control. Portal, 6, 26.

Sounny-Slitine, M. A., & Bensalem, S. (2011). Morocco: Energy dependent today, energy leader tomorrow. Energy/Climate Change, 1(1), 57.

Focus Area 1: GeoSpatial Analysis & Techniques

Modeling, Measurement, Visualization and Computation: techniques for the collection, analysis, manipulation, interpretation and display of geospatial data, using tools such as GIS, Remote Sensing, GPS, and Spatial Statistics. A variety of software is utilized such as ARCGIS, R, ERDAS Imagine, ENVI, Python, Java, C++, Matlab, SQL, SPSS, Google Earth Engine, NOAA’s Weather and Climate Toolkit and more. Many courses are taught within our own geospatial science labs or flipped classroom environment space.

Our sub-focus areas are as follows:

  • GIS – Geographic Information Systems
  • Spatial statistics
  • Geospatial Science
  • Remote Sensing
  • GIS Programming & Development
  • Network Analysis
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Atmospheric data analysis
  • Digital Mapping
  • Landscape Ecology
  • Spatial econometrics
  • Geostatistics
  • Land Change Science

Core Faculty:

Satellite image of Kansas agricultural landscape. Source: NASA

Modeling, Measurement, Visualization and Computation: techniques for the collection, analysis, manipulation, interpretation and display of geospatial data, using tools such as GIS, Remote Sensing, GPS, and Spatial Statistics. A variety of software is utilized such as ARCGIS, R, ERDAS Imagine, ENVI, Python, Java, C++, Matlab, SQL, SPSS, Google Earth Engine, NOAA’s Weather and Climate Toolkit and more. Many courses are taught within our own geospatial science labs or flipped classroom environment space.

Our sub-focus areas are as follows:

  • GIS – Geographic Information Systems
  • Spatial statistics
  • Remote Sensing
  • GIS Programming & Development
  • Network Analysis
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Atmospheric data analysis
  • Digital Mapping
  • Landscape Ecology
  • Spatial econometrics
  • Geostatistics
  • Land Change Science

Core Faculty:

Precipitation totals from Hurricane Matthew, 2016. Source: NASA
Precipitation totals from Hurricane Matthew, 2016. Source: NASA


  • GIS3043 – Foundations of GIS
  • GIS3420C/ GIS6425C – GIS Models for Public Health
  • GIS 4001C – Maps and Graphs
  • GIS5107C – GIS for Research
  • GIS4113 – Spatial Networks
  • GEO4285/6938 – Models in Geographic Hydrology
  • GEO3162C/6160 – Introductory Quantitative Methods
  • GEO4167C/6161 – Intermediate Quantitative Methods
  • GEO6166 – Advanced Quantitative Methods
  • GEO4938/6938 – GIS Programming
  • GEO4938/6938 – GIS Disease Ecology
  • GIS4938/6938 – Advanced Environmental Remote Sensing
  • Applied Geostatistics
  • GEO4938/6938 – Spatial Regression and Modeling
  • 4121C/5028C – Aerial Photography
  • GIS4911 – Undergraduate Research in GIS
  • GIS4037 – Digital Image Processing
  • GIS5037C- Remote Sensing of Environment
  • MET4750/6752 – Spatial Analysis of Atmospheric Data using GIS
  • MET4532/6530 – Hurricanes
  • MET4560/6565 – Atmospheric Teleconnections
  • 4954C –Field Course in Geography


  • Undergraduate: Geospatial Information Analysis
  • Graduate: Digital Geography & GIS


Dr. Jason K. Blackburn

Associate Professor


Director, Spatial Epidemiology & Ecology Research Laboratory (SEER Lab)

During COVID, with limited access to campus, people may not receive phone messages. For a quicker response, please use email.


(352) 294-7501

Focus Areas

Areas of Specialization

  • Zoonotic diseases (those that affect animals and humans)
  • Wildlife diseases
  • Disease transmission pathways & spillover between species
  • Ecological niche modeling
  • Spatio-temporal modeling for epidemiology
  • Disease ecology
  • Anthrax transmission dynamics

Educational Background

  • PhD in Medical Geography (Minor: Pathobiology), Louisiana State University, 2006
  • M.S. in Medical Geography, Louisiana State University, 2003
  • B.S. in Physical Geography, Louisiana State University, 2001

Recent Courses

  • GEOG 6938: Applications in GIS for Spatial Epidemiology & Disease Ecology – offered in the spring semester

Recent Graduate Students


  • Morgan Walker


In My Own Words

I am an Associate Professor of Geography and a principal investigator in the Emerging Pathogens Institute and the director of the Spatial Epidemiology and Ecology Research Laboratory (SEER Lab), which is jointly housed in Geography and the EPI. My research interests focus on the ecology and spatio-temporal patterns of zoonotic diseases, those that impact animals and humans. Primarily my laboratory is concentrated on bacterial pathogens, such as anthrax, brucellosis, plague, and tularemia. We employ ecological niche modeling, spatio-temporal clustering techniques, and ecological modeling to historical and field-collected empirical data related to disease outbreaks and pathogen distributions. Specifically we work on select agent studies in the former Soviet Republics of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan, as well as Botswana, and the American West.  I also work with colleagues from the UF Vet School on projects in St. Kitts and Nevis and the island nation of Dominica. The SEER Lab is currently funded by CRDF Global, the Department of Energy, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health (through MIDAS and NIEHS funding), and the USDA.  In addition my lab’s work on zoonotic diseases, I also have research interests and continue to publish on shark biology and ecology, marine mammal biology, and large predatory cats (cougars and ocelots) in Texas. My teaching philosophy is to directly engage students in research and the scientific writing process in the classroom and in the field.  My graduate students gain direct research experience through involvement in domestic and international projects and co-publication of their graduate research. My course material is updated each year with new literature, new GIS practical labs, and new techniques being applied in Medical Geography, Spatial Epidemiology, Geospatial Science, and Disease Ecology.

Recent Publications

Lentz JA, Blackburn JK, Curtis AJ (2011) Evaluating Patterns of a White-Band Disease (WBD) Outbreak in Acropora palmata Using Spatial Analysis: A Comparison of Transect and Colony Clustering. PLoS ONE 6(7): e21830. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0021830

Kathleen A. Alexander, Jason K Blackburn, and Emmanuel A Frimpong. 2011. Buffalo and Maslow’s hammer. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 9: 302–303.   doi:10.1890/1540-9295-9.5.302

Kracalik, I., Lukhnova, L., Aikimbayev, A., Pazilov, Y., Temiralyeva, Blackburn, J.K. 2011. Incorporating retrospective clustering into a prospective cusum methodology for anthrax: Evaluating the effects of disease expectation. Spatial and Spatio-temporal Epidemiology 2(1): 11-21.

Blackburn, J.K., A. Curtis, T.L. Hadfield, B. O’Shea, M.A. Mitchell, M.E. Hugh-Jones. 2010. Confirmation of Bacillus anthracis from Flesh-eating Flies Collected during a West Texas Anthrax Season. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 46(3): 918-922.

Blackburn, J.K. 2010. Integrating Geographic Information Systems and Ecological Niche Modeling into Disease Ecology: A Case Study of Bacillus anthracis in the United States and Mexico. In: Emerging and Endemic Pathogens. NATO Science for Peace and Security Series A: Chemisty and Biology 00(2): 59-88. DOI: 10.1007/978-90-481-9637-1_7

Jason K. Blackburn, Mark A. Mitchell, Mary-Claire Holley Blackburn, Andrew Curtis and Bruce A. Thompson (2010) Evidence of Antibiotic Resistance in Free-Swimming, Top-Level Marine Predatory Fishes. Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine: January 2010, Vol. 41, No. 1, pp. 7-16.

Joyner TA, Lukhnova L, Pazilov Y, Temiralyeva G, Hugh-Jones ME, Aikimbayev, A., Blackburn, J.K. (2010) Modeling the Potential Distribution of Bacillus anthracis under Multiple Climate Change Scenarios for Kazakhstan. PLoS ONE 5(3): e9596. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0009596

Aikembayev AM, Lukhnova L, Temiraliyeva G, Meka-Mechenko T, Pazylov Y, Zakaryan S, Denissov, G., Easterday, RW, Van Ert, MN, Keim, P, Francesconi, SC, Blackburn, JK, Hugh-Jones, ME, Hadfield, T. Historical distribution and molecular diversity of Bacillus anthracis, Kazakhstan. Emerg Infect Dis [serial on the Internet]. 2010 May DOI: 10.3201/eid1605.091427

Hugh-Jones, ME & Blackburn, JK. 2009. The ecology of Bacillus anthracis. Molecular Aspects of Medicine 30(6): 356-367.

Blackburn, J.K., A. Curtis, F. Currin Mujica, F. Jones, P. Dorn, R. Coates. 2008. The Development of the Chagas’ Online Data Entry System (CODES-GIS). Transactions in GIS 12(2): 249-265.


Dr. Jane Southworth

Department Chair and Professor

Affiliate Member, Florida Climate Institute

During COVID, with limited access to campus, people may not receive phone messages. For a quicker response, please use email.

(352) 294-7512

Curriculum Vita

Focus Areas

Research Statement

My research interests are based on the study of human-environment interactions within the field of Land Change Science and Geospatial Science. All of my research is undertaken with highly interdisciplinary research teams which involve both social and physical scientists. It is this interdisciplinary focus on research problems that interests me and for which I was trained. Within such interdisciplinary teams my particular strengths lie in the remote sensing of vegetation dynamics; land use, land cover change and land change modeling; the implications of scale and scaling in remote sensing and modeling analyses; people and parks; and modeling of the impacts of climate change on human-environment systems and vegetation dynamics.

Recent Courses

  • Study Abroad Program: UF in South Africa – People, Parks, and Conservation in Africa
  • GEO3930 Geographical Sciences & Sustainability (NEW Spring 2018)
  • GEO6938 Climate Variability & Climate Change in Africa
  • GEO2200 Physical Geography
  • GIS5038C Environmental Remote Sensing
  • GIS4037 Digital Image Processing
  • GEO6375 Land Change Science Seminar
  • GEO6921 How to Survive (and Thrive) in Academia
  • GEO6938 Advanced Environmental Remote Sensing
  • GEO2242 Extreme Weather
  • GEO3930 The Digital Earth (NEW Fall 2018)

Recent Funded Projects

  • 2016-2020

NSF CNH Program: Recent land transactions in Ethiopia: Impacts on agriculture, ecosystem services, and food-energy security. Notified of funding April 2016. $1.6 million. UF portion with Southworth as PI = $360,000 Total Award Period Covered: 9/1/2016 – 8/31/2020. PI: Dan Brown (University of Michigan). Co-PIs: Jane Southworth (UF PI) and Arun Agrawal (University of Michigan).

  • 2016-2018

NIOSH: South Eastern Coastal Center for Agricultural Health and Safety $10 million. PI: Overall center PI – Glenn Morris. Sub-PI for our project ($280,000) is Greg Glass. Co-PI: Southworth.

  • 2017-2018

University of Florida, International Center: Geography and CAS Study Abroad Program in South Africa. $25,000. PI: Southworth, Co-PI’s: Ryan and Child.

  • 2015-2016

UF Water Institute: The Water-Energy-Food-Environment nexus: Unintended consequences of interbasin water transfer for hydropower generation and agriculture on the protected environment. Total Award Amount: $10,000. PI: Rafael Munoz-Carpena. Co-PIs: Jane Southworth, Ray Huffaker, Greg Kiker, Peter Waylen.

  • 2015-2016

UF Water Institute: Water, Africa, Disease, and Health (WADAH). Total Award Amount: $10,000. PI: Jane Southworth. Co-PIs: Rafael Munoz-Carpena, Ray Huffaker, Greg Kiker, Jason Blackburn, Brian Child, Greg Glass, Sadie Ryan, Peter Waylen.

  • 2014-2015

UF Informatics Institute SEED Grant. “Death, Disease and Distribution”, $36,000. PI – Southworth, Co-PIs: Blackburn, Waylen, Glass, Ryan, Munoz-Carpena, and Kiker.

  • 2013-2018

NSF PIRE Program: PARTNERS (People And Reforestation in the Tropics: a Network for Education, Research, and Synthesis). Total Award Amount: $499,011. University of Connecticut – PI: Robin Chazdon. My role: Collaborator – Networking Grant.

  • 2013-2016

Google Earth Outreach Grant / Collaboration. PIs: Jane Southworth and Erin Bunting. Purpose: to bring Google Earth Engine, Google Maps Engine, Open Data Kit, Timelapse, and Google Tours into the Introductory Remote Sensing Class. This collaboration enabled our students to have contact with cutting edge remote sensing technology available through the Google array. This introduces our student to big data analysis via access to the extensive Google data catalog. Furthermore, the open data kit program is a tablet based field collection technique. Note: There is no direct money from this. The collaboration enabled our students to access a resource that only a couple other universities around the world have. Specifically other collaborations have been set up at Stanford, Cal Tech, and Princeton.

  • 2011-2015

NSF-CNH Program. Global Sensitivity & Uncertainty Analysis in the Evaluation of Social Ecological Resilience: Theoretical Debates over Infrastructure Impacts on Livelihoods & Forest Change. $1.6 million. PI: Dr. Stephen Perz. My role: Senior Investigator.

Recent Publications

Guo Cao, Bisheng Wang, Xavier Haro-Carrión, Di Yang, and Jane Southworth. 2017. A new difference image creation method based on deep neural networks for change detection in remote sensing images. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 38(23): 7161-7175.

Fullman, T., Bunting, E., Kiker, G., and Southworth, J. 2017. Predicted Shifts in Large Herbivore Distribution under Climate Change and Management Scenarios in Kruger National Park, South Africa. Ecological Modeling, 352: 1-18.

Hannah Herrero, Jane Southworth, Erin Bunting, and Brian Child. 2017. Using Repeat Photography to Observe Vegetation Change Over Time in Gorongosa National Park. African Studies Quarterly, 17(2): 65-82.

Ryan, S.J., Palace, M., Diem, J., Hartter, J. Chapman, C.A., Southworth, J. 2017. Population pressure and global markets drove a decade of deforestation in Africa’s Albertine Rift. Applied Geography, 81: 52-59.

Fullman, T.J., G.A. Kiker, A. Gaylard, J. Southworth, P.R. Waylen, and G.I.H. Kerley. Elephants respond to resource trade-offs in an aseasonal system through daily and annual variability in resource selection Koedoe; 59 (1)

Hannah Herrero, Jane Southworth, Erin Bunting. 2016. Utilizing Multiple Lines of Evidence to Determine Landscape Degradation within protected area landscapes: A Case Study of Chobe National Park, Botswana from 1982 to 2011. Remote Sensing, 8 (8): 623.

Ray Huffaker, Rafael Muñoz-Carpena, Miguel Campo-Bescos, Jane Southworth. 2016. Demonstrating correspondence between decision-support models and dynamics of real-world environmental systems. Environmental Modelling & Software, 83: 74-87.

Bunting, E., Fullman, T., Kiker, G., and Southworth, J. 2016. Utilization of the SAVANNA Ecosystem Model to Analyze Future Patterns of Vegetation Cover in Kruger National Park under IPCC Climate Change Scenarios. Ecological Modeling, 342: 147-160.

Michael J. Hill, Qiang Zhou, Qingsong Sun, Crystal B. Schaaf, Jane Southworth, Niti B. Mishra, Cerian Gibbes, Erin Bunting, Thomas B. Christiansen, & Kelley A. Crews. 2016. Dynamics of the relationship between NDVI and SWIR32 vegetation indices in southern Africa: implications for retrieval of fractional cover from MODIS data. International Journal of Remote Sensing. Volume 37, Issue 6, pages 1476-1503.

Hill, Michael, J., and Jane Southworth. 2016. Anthropogenic change in savannas and associated forest biomes. Journal of Land Use Science, Volume 11: Issue 1, Pages 1-6.

Southworth, J., Zhu, L., Bunting, E., Ryan, S.J., Herrero, H., Waylen, P.R., Hill, M. 2016. Changes in vegetation persistence across global savanna landscapes, 1982-2010. Journal of Land Use Science, Volume 11, Issue 1, pages 7-32.

Ryan, S.J., Southworth, J., Hartter, J., Dowhaniuk, N., Fuda, R., Diem, J. 2015. Household level influences on fragmentation in an African park landscape. Applied Geography 58: 18-31.

Sun, J., J. Southworth, and Y. Qiu. 2015. Mapping multiscale impacts of deforestation in the Amazonian rainforest from 1986 to 2010. Journal of Land Use Science, Volume 10, Issue 2, pages 174-190.

Christopher Baraloto, Paula Alverga, Sufer Baéz Quispe, Grenville Barnes, Nino Bejar Chura, Izaias Brasil da Silva, Wendeson Castro, Harrison da Souza, Iracema Elizabeth de Souza Moll, Jim Del Alcazar Chilo, Hugo Dueñas Linares, Jorge Gárate Quispe, Dean Kenji, Matthew Marsik, Herison Medeiros, Skya Murphy, Cara Rockwell, Alexander Shenkin, Marcos Silveira, Jane Southworth, Guido Vasquez, and Stephen Perz. 2015. Effects of road infrastructure on forest value across a tri-national Amazonian frontier. Biological Conservation, 191, pages 674-681

Zhu Likai, Jane Southworth, Jijun Meng. 2015. Comparison of the driving forces of spring phenology among savanna landscapes by combining spatial and temporal heterogeneity. International Journal of Biometeorology, October 2015, Volume 59: Issue 10, pp. 1373-1384.

Sancahayeeta Adhikari, Jane Southworth, and Harini Nagendra. 2015. Understanding forest loss and recovery: a spatio-temporal analysis of land change in and around Bannerghatta National Park, India. Journal of Land Use Science, 10 (4)

Baraloto, C., P. Alverga, S. Baéz Quispe, G. Barnes, N. Bejar Chura, I. Brasil da Silva, W. Castro, H. Da Souza, I. De Souza Moll, J. Del Alcazar Chilo, H. Duenas Linares, J. Garate Quispe, D. Kenji, H. Medeiros, C. A. Rockwell, A. Shenkin, M. Silveira, J. Southworth, G. Vasquez, and S. Perz. 2014. Trade-offs among forest value components in community forests of southwestern Amazonia. Ecology and Society 19(4): 56

Waylen, P.R., Southworth, J., Gibbes, C., and H. Tsai. 2014. Time series analysis of land cover change: Developing statistical tools to determine significance of land cover changes in persistence analyses. Remote Sensing, 6, 4473-4497.

Sun, J., Z. Huang, Q. Zhen, J. Southworth, and S. Perz. 2014. Fractally deforested landscape: Pattern and process in a tri-national Amazon frontier. Applied Geography, 52: 204-211.

Gibbes, C., Southworth, J., Waylen, P., and B. Child. 2014. Climate variability as a dominant driver of post-disturbance savanna dynamics. Applied Geography, 53: 389-401.

Tsai, H., Southworth, J., and P. Waylen. 2014. Spatial persistence and temporal patterns in vegetation cover across Florida, 1982–2006. Physical Geography, 35(2): 151-180.

Sun, J., J. Southworth., and Y. Qiu. 2014. Mapping multiscale impacts of deforestation in the Amazonian rainforest from 1986 to 2010. Journal of Land Use Science.

Miguel A. Campo-Bescos, Rafael Muñoz-Carpena, Jane Southworth, Likai Zhu, Peter R. Waylen, and Erin Bunting. 2013. Combined Spatial and Temporal Effects of Environmental Controls on Long-Term Monthly NDVI in the Southern Africa Savanna. Remote Sensing, 5, 6513-6538.

Southworth, J., Rigg, L., Gibbes C., Waylen, P., Zhu, L., McCarragher, S., Cassidy, L. 2013. Integrating Dendrochronology, Climate and Satellite Remote Sensing to Better Understand Savanna Landscape Dynamics in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. LAND, 2: 637-655.

Campo-Bescos, M.A., R. Munoz-Carpena, D.A. Kaplan, J. Southworth, L. Zhu, and P.R. Waylen. 2013. Beyond precipitation: physiographic thresholds dictate the relative importance of environmental drivers on savanna vegetation. PLoS ONE, 8(8): e72348.

J. Sun, J. Southworth. 2013. Retrospective analysis of landscape dynamics using normalized spectral entropy. Remote Sensing Letters, Vol. 4, No. 11, 1049–1056.

Likai Zhu and Jane Southworth. 2013. Disentangling the relationships between net primary production and precipitation in southern Africa savannas using satellite observations from 1982 to 2010. Remote Sensing, 5, 3803-3825.

J. Sun, J. Southworth. 2013. Indicating structural connectivity in Amazonian rainforests from 1986 to 2010 using morphological image processing analysis. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 34(14): 5187-5200.

Cassidy, L., J. Southworth, C. Gibbes, & M.W. Binford. 2013. Beyond classifications: Combining continuous and discrete approaches to better understand land-cover change within the lower Mekong River region. Applied Geography, 39: 26-45.

Erin Bunting, Jessica Steele, Eric Keys, Shylock Muyengwa, Brian Child, Jane Southworth. 2013. Local Perception of Risk to Livelihoods in the Semi-Arid Landscape of Southern Africa. LAND 2(2): 225-251.

Xia Cui, Cerian Gibbes, Jane Southworth, Peter Waylen. 2013. Using Remote Sensing to Quantify Vegetation Change and Ecological Resilience in a Semi-Arid System. LAND, 2(2): 108-130.

Sun, J., Z. Huang, J. Southworth. Y. Qiu. 2013. Mapping fractality during the process of deforestation in an Amazon tri-national frontier. Remote Sensing Letters, 4:6, 589 -598.

Perz, S., Y. Qiu, Y. Xia, J. Southworth, J. Sun, M. Marsik, K. Rocha, V. Passos, D. Rojas, G. Alarcon, G. Barnes, C. Baraloto. 2013. Trans-boundary infrastructure and land cover change: Highway paving and community-level deforestation in a tri-national frontier in the Amazon. Land Use Policy, 34, 27 – 41.

Sun, J., & J. Southworth. 2013. Remote Sensing-Based Fractal Analysis and Scale Dependence Associated with Forest Fragmentation in an Amazon Tri‑National Frontier. Remote Sensing, 5(2): 454-472.

Educational Background

  • PhD in Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University, 2000
  • M.S. in Geography, Specialization in Meteorology & Climatology, 1996
  • B.S. in Geography, Leicester University, 1992

Current Graduate Students



  • Co-advise Tyler Schaper (with Greg Glass)


Recent Graduate Students


  • Dr. Hannah Herrero Summer 2019
  • Dr. Meshari Alenezi Summer 2019
  • Dr. Xavier Haro-Carrion Summer 2019
  • Forrest Stevens – Fall 2014
  • Mehmet Ozdes – started PhD Fall 2012
  • Erin Bunting Summer 2014
  • Tim Fullman Summer 2014 Co-Chair, Dr. Brian Child
  • Jessica Steele Summer 2014
  • Likai Zhu Summer 2014
  • Jing Sun Summer 2013
  • Muhammad Almatar Fall 2012
  • HuiPing Tsai Fall 2012
  • Cerian Gibbes Spring 2011
  • Sanchayeeta Adhikari Spring 2011
  • Pinki Mondal Fall 2010
  • Claudia Stickler December 2009
  • Jaclyn Hall Summer 2009
  • Amy Daniels Summer 2009
  • Matt Marsik Fall 2008 Co-Chair, Dr. Peter Waylen
  • Joel Hartter Fall 2007 Co-Chair, Dr. Abe Goldman


  • Mariano Gonzalez Fall 2009
  • Forrest Stevens Spring 2009
    Muhammad Almatar Spring 2008
  • Cerian Gibbes Fall 2006
  • Rob Lopez Spring 2006