Research Clusters

Global Environmental Change

Members of this cluster work to understand the effects of stresses upon the Earth's systems from natural and human induced changes.  Research at SFU includes studies of global climate change, glacier melt, land cover, soil degradation, landscape water flows, extinction and defaunation, terrestrial ecosystem conservation and disturbance regimes, rising sea levels from declining glacial ice, and process-based modeling of such Earth system changes.   Understanding the nature of these biogeophysical responses, in combination with drivers of changing human behavior and economics, is critical for policy makers to make appropriate decisions in managing our rapidly changing planet.

Affiliated Faculty

Tracy Brennand, Geoff Mann, Margaret Schmidt, Kirsten Zickfeld, Rosemary-Claire Collard, Pascal Haegeli, Alex Clapp, Nick Hedley, Suzana Dragicevic, Jeremy Venditti,Yildiz Atasoy, William Jesse Hahm, Bing Lu

Geographical Political Economies

Members of the GPE cluster study the inter-relation of economies and politics.  We trace how these processes, practices, and institutions shape and are shaped by local and global transformations and by natural and social environments.  Specifically, we research the discovery, development, and conservation of resources, location dynamics, the globalized delivery of health services and systems, tourism and resource communities, regional economic development, the geographies of law and property, capitalism and the state, and the political ecology of borderland minority groups. 

Affiliated Faculty:

Nick Blomley, Valorie Crooks, Rosemary-Claire Collard, Meg Holden, Kendra Strauss, Yildiz Atasoy, Alex Clapp, Paul Kingsbury, Eugene McCann, Geoff Mann, Peter Hall, Joseph Taylor

Water Sciences

Members of this cluster study the cycling and routing of water through the Earth system, as well as how people use water and the affects this has on both its supply and the functioning of water-dependent ecosystems.   By developing additional expertise in coastal dynamics and eco-hydrology the group aims to create a more holistic view of water in the Earth system, an essential step in conserving and protecting water resources.  Examples of research at SFU include the link between global climate and the hydrological cycle, transport of water and nutrients to the Arctic Ocean from the Mackenzie River basin, flow dynamics control of sediment transport in the Fraser River, effect of changes in energy-moisture balance on vegetation-fire dynamics, quantifying spatial distributions of soil moisture, glacial melt-water controls on landforms and drainage systems, and the limnology of Arctic delta lakes.

Affiliated Faculty:

Tracy Brennand, Pascal Haegeli, William Jesse Hahm, Nick Hedley, Lance Lesack, Margaret Schmidt, Jeremy Venditti, Bing Lu

The City

At SFU, human geographers and spatial and geographic information scientists study the ways that cities concentrate human populations, economic production, cultural creation and environmental impact; we study their global economic influence and ecological footprints.  Specifically, we conduct research that brings spatial, political, social, cultural, economic, and environmental analyses to bear on urban politics, planning, policy, development, transportation, consumption, health services, property and the law.   

Affiliated Faculty:

Martin Andresen, Suzana Dragicevic, Nick Hedley, Paul Kingsbury, Jeff Derksen, Yildiz Atasoy, Nick Blomley, Peter Hall, Meg Holden, Eugene McCann, Kirsten McAllister

Spatial Health

Spatial Health applies geographical thinking and spatial representation to epidemiology, population health and health services. Using core geographic concepts, research in spatial health aims to identify patterns of disease, optimize access to health services, uncover local and global health inequities and detect environmental influences on health status. Some Spatial Health approaches integrate human and physical geography as well as GIScience to enhance existing understandings of health and health care. Members of the Spatial Health cluster use qualitative research in human geography, GIS, remote sensing and climate change data to create a truly inter-disciplinary approach to Spatial Health. 

Associated Faculty:

Valorie Crooks, Paul Kingsbury, Nadine Schuurman

Spatial Information Theory

Spatial Information Theory identifies and describes key conceptual constructs that underlie remote sensing and GIScience. It seeks to understand social and technological influences on the development of the technologies and data structuring techniques. A key aspect of Spatial Information Theory is the quest for optimal ways to identify, visualize and communicate spatial relationships on the earth’s surface. Members of the Spatial Information Theory cluster use visualization, spatial cognition, modeling, and science and technology studies to further Spatial Information Theory.

Affiliated Faculty:

Martin Andresen, Suzana Dragicivec, Nick Hedley, Margaret Schmidt, Nadine Schuurman, Bing Lu