Research Areas

The Department has attracted on average over $1.5 million in research funding over the past five years.  Clearly, faculty and graduate students in the Department of Geography and Environment are active in a wide range of research projects, and are supported by extensive field and laboratory infrastructure.

The following information below provides a summary description about our core areas of research. 

Physical Geography

Studies of earth surface processes in hydrology, geomorphology, climatology, biogeography and pedology using instrumented field sites, terrain analysis, remote sensing and GIS. Current projects include urban heat island, forest fragmentation, subglacial hydrology, and fluvial sediment transport.

Environmental change studies include: paleoenvironmental reconstructions using dendrochronology and dendrogeomorphology, paleolimnology and environmental archeology, the response of river and vegetation systems to environmental change, and modified climates in urban areas.

Regional emphases include the Rocky Mountains, Canadian High Arctic, southwestern Ontario and the Boreal Plains.

Core faculty in this area include: Peter AshmoreGeneviève Metson, Natasha MacBeanKatrina Moser, James Voogt and Jinfei Wang.

Geographic Information Science (GIS)

Theoretical and applied studies of geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing and cartography. Interests in GIS include: spatial modelling and visualization, database structures and pattern recognition. Application of GIS to: urban land use, locational analysis, wildlife habitat, wetlands, arctic soils and vegetation, glacier dynamics, and landscape. Planetary cartography and mapping of asteroids. Applications of remote sensing to resource management, cartography, and earth surface processes (including vegetation patterns, river channel form, and urban surface temperatures).

Core faculty in this area include: Michael BuzzelliJason Gilliland, Jinhyung Lee, Agnieszka Leszczynski, Jed LongIsaac Luginaah, Natasha MacBeanJames Voogt and Jinfei Wang.

Urban Studies

Cities are confusing places: in some locales, we find rapid economic growth, with an infusion of firms and high-paying jobs; in others, we find clusters of dilapidated housing and high crime rates. The range of issues across the social and economic landscape is also perplexing. What causes these phenomena to occur? Urban Studies research focuses on phenomenon and societal issues in the context of cities. The research topics include urban development, urban land and real estate economics, urban morphology, planning, housing, health, history, culture and geomatics.

Current projects by members of the Department of Geography include research on: recent decline in the downtown quaternary functions in North American cities; spatial demographics of educational demand; urban opportunities for youth gambling; urban environmental influences on childhood obesity; geographic studies of paediatric trauma; urban forms for seniors' independence and mobility; property acquisition and social mobility; spatial patterning of urban crime; geographies of personal networks; urban demographics and housing choices; uncertainty and household mobility; and the Imag(in)ing London historical GIS project.

Core faculty in this area include: Godwin Arku, Sâkihitowin Awâsis, Jamie Baxter, Michael Buzzelli, Jason Gilliland, Jeff Hopkins, Isaac Luginaah, Geneviève Metson, Roza Tchoukaleyska and Jinfei Wang.

Environment, Development and Health

The environment, development and health cluster focuses on the ways that human societies are transforming the natural world, and the ways that biophysical changes, political environments, and social inequality together impact human health and well-being. Research in health geography is generally more focused in Canada, including both Indigenous and settler communities, and examines a range of topics including: environmental hazards, risk perceptions, inequalities, air pollution, processes of environmental dispossession, and relations between urban form and children’s health and quality of life. Environmental justice is a prominent theme in the development-oriented research in the cluster, both in Indigenous and settler communities in Canada, as well as in a range of international settings. This involves work on agriculture and food systems, energy systems and resource extraction, environmental repossession, Indigenous knowledge, and water management – all of which increasingly interrelate to climate change at some level.

Faculty members in the EDH cluster employ a range of methodologies and approaches, and have collaborative links with the physical geography, urban studies and Geographical Information Science clusters within the department. They also have active connections to researchers in other departments and faculties across the university and at other universities inside and outside of Canada, and several members work closely with government, private sector, communities and non-profit organizations.

Core faculty in this area include: Vanessa Ambtman-Smith, Godwin Arku, Sâkihitowin Awâsis, Jamie Baxter, Michael Buzzelli, Jason Gilliland, Carol Hunsberger, Jinhyung LeeIsaac Luginaah, Geneviève Metson, Katrina Moser, Chantelle Richmond, Dan ShrubsoleRoza TchoukaleyskaTony Weis and Lewis Williams.