USC Dornsife Spatial Sciences Institute

USC GIS Faculty Recognized for Exceptional Teaching and Research

Since its founding in 2010, the University of Southern California’s Spatial Sciences Institute has earned an international reputation for pushing the boundaries of geographic information science (GIS), as well as offering unparalleled world-class education. Students learn from top thinkers and practitioners in the field by taking courses focused on some of the most vital issues in geographic problem-solving, remote sensing, visualization, geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) and human security. Recently, OnlineEngineeringPrograms.com praised the excellence of USC’s GIS department and faculty, noting the distinguished achievements of several professors as researchers and instructors.

The website’s guide to three of the best GIS programs in North America spotlighted departments that provide comprehensive, cutting-edge education at the undergraduate and graduate levels, demonstrate high levels of student satisfaction and support breakthrough research. Individual faculty members were singled out for their contributions, based on factors like peer recognition and professional service in administrative positions or on advisory boards.

The USC faculty cited for their exceptional work are:

  • Steven D. Fleming, Professor of the Practice of Spatial Sciences
  • Andrew J. Marx, Associate Professor of the Practice of Spatial Sciences
  • Jennifer N. Swift, Associate Professor (Teaching) of Spatial Sciences
  • Robert O. Vos, Associate Professor (Teaching) of Spatial Sciences and Director of Graduate Studies
  • John P. Wilson, Professor of Sociology and Spatial Sciences and Founding Director of the Spatial Sciences Institute

The accolades from OnlineEngineeringPrograms.com are just the latest indication that the innovative thinking at the Spatial Sciences Institute makes a difference in the classroom, the discipline and beyond.

Previously, the institute has been designated a Center of Academic Excellence in Geospatial Studies by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and an Esri Development Center. The Spatial Sciences Institute is also a member of the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF), and the Master of Science in Human Security and Geospatial Intelligence (HSGI) program is the first degree of its kind to be accredited by this organization dedicated to GEOINT dialogue and education.

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How USC’s Students and Faculty Shape the Future of GIS

In addition to pushing the boundaries of GIS problem-solving for a wide range of applications across multiple disciplines, USC professors offer invaluable mentorship to the next generation of GIS professionals. As a result, students have participated in peer-reviewed studies that take on issues like efficiently collecting information from historical maps, using remote sensing techniques to track the impact of pesticides on human health or investigating the effects of resources and social forces on a population’s access to fast, accurate healthcare diagnoses.

USC’s HSGI Lab is a major hub for leveraging geographic information to address conflicts and human suffering around the world. Graduate students co-authored groundbreaking geospatial scholarship that could help to save lives and oppose human rights abuses. For example, Andrew Marx has collaborated with students on multiple peer-reviewed papers in the HSGI field:

  • Marx and students Yu-Hsi Chou, Kevin Mercy and Richard Windisch co-authored a study on effectively using the high-quality 3D data collected by unmanned aerial systems. The article presented a system for efficiently performing time-series analysis on the large image files generated by drones, which may enable in-depth monitoring of cities, dams, coastlines and even the landscapes of other planets.
  • Windisch, Marx and Jong-Su Kim worked on a case study exploring how small satellite technology could be used to remotely sense signs of humanitarian crisis. The researchers implemented an algorithm to detect evidence of villages burning in Myanmar’s Rakhine state from near-infrared imagery. This approach has the potential to empower human rights organizations as they gather crucial evidence of mass atrocities.

USC’s GIS and HSGI programs build on this vibrant research and equip professionals for emerging roles in the acquisition, analysis and visualization of spatial information. Many students participate in an excursion to Catalina Island, where they work closely with USC faculty and other researchers while gaining hands-on experience in developing and executing their own GIS research projects.

The USC Spatial Sciences Institute stands out from other departments by connecting students directly with the innovators who employ geospatial technology and methods to transform how we see the world.

About USC’s GIS Graduate Programs

The University of Southern California offers a comprehensive selection of online and residential GIS programs. This includes both GIS master’s degrees and GIS graduate certificates. Click on the programs below to learn about our leading geographic information science education.

GIS Master’s Degrees

GIS Graduate Certificates

*The application for the residential graduate certificates and online M.S. in Spatial Economics and Data Analysis (SEDA) program will open in early August.