Crime research reaps rewards for SFU prof
A Simon Fraser University criminologist’s contributions to the geographies of crime and international trade have earned him the Julian M. Szeicz Award for Early Career Achievement from the Canadian Association of Geographers (CGA).
Martin Andresen, an associate professor of criminology who has taught at SFU since earning his PhD in geography in 2006, focuses on Canadian issues in researching both types of geography. Andresen uses spatial statistics and geographic information systems to study urban crime patterns.
His BA and MA in economics in combination with his PhD have given him a unique insight into international trade.
In fact, his most impressive accomplishment to date is solving the “border puzzle”—a 15-year-old economic concept that claimed there was 22 times more trade between Canadian provinces than with U.S. states.
While that theory did control for factors such as the economic size of provinces and states, and the distances between them, “it just didn’t make any sense,” says Andresen. “And if you did the math, it basically was impossible.”
He says that gathering the correct data and using appropriate statistical methods make that border-effect disappear. “Before free trade, we traded a little bit more with Canadian provinces because of the trade barrier. After free trade we started trading a little bit more with the U.S.—but only by a factor of two, not 22 times as much.”
Solving the puzzle, he says, “is a big deal, because people had spent 15 years talking about the previous statistics and I came along and said ‘no’.” Bucking the experts wasn’t easy. “I had a hard time getting some of my research published,” he says, making the CGA award all the sweeter.
In September, Andresen published his first textbook, The Science of Crime Measurement. It synthesizes all of his research into an overview of how spatial crime data can be used to analyse crime patterns across the urban environment.
In 2010 Andresen also won the SFU Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences’ dean’s medal for academic excellence in recognition of his high levels of scholarship in research, teaching and university service.
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