Board on Earth Sciences and Resources, US National Academies

I am honored and pleased to be appointed to the Board on Earth Sciences and Resources (BESR) at the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. The BESR oversees a wide range of Earth science issues, including research, the environment, natural hazards, resources, geographic science and geospatial information, and data and education. It also provides guidance on U.S. participation in international Earth science programs.

I am looking forward to some very stimulating conversations and activities.

More on the BESR

Mapping Science Committee of the US National Academies

I am honored and excited to be appointed to a second term as chair of the Mapping Science Committee of the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

The Mapping Science Committee organizes and oversees National Research Council studies that provide independent advice to society and to government at all levels on geospatial science, technology, and policy. It also addresses aspects of geographic information science that deal with the acquisition, integration, storage, distribution, and use of spatial data. Through its studies, the committee promotes the informed and responsible development and use of spatial data for the benefit of society.

We have a excellent committee for the 2021-2023 term – accomplished scientists, professionals and leaders in the field, spanning a wide range of geospatial science, technologies and applications:

  • Harvey Miller, chair, The Ohio State University
  • Stewart Fotheringham, Arizona State University
  • Oceana Francis, University of Hawai’i at Manoa
  • Hendrik Hamann, IBM T.J. Watson Research Center
  • Kristen Kurland, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Marguerite Madden, University of Georgia
  • Keith Masback, Plum Run, LLC
  • Kathleen Stewart, University of Maryland
  • Eric Tate, University of Iowa


Mesogeography Social physics, GIScience and the quest for geographic knowledge

New publication: Miller, H.J.Mesogeography: Social physics, GIScience and the quest for geographic knowledge,” Progress in Human Geography, 42, 600-609.

Abstract: The 20th century witnessed the rise of social physics: the application of models and techniques developed for physical processes to social phenomena. Social physics left an enduring legacy in human geography via its stepchildren, spatial analysis and GIS, shifting geography from microgeography (description-seeking) and towards macrogeography (law-seeking). Social physics is back in the 21st century, and its renaissance with a concurrent rise in computational and data-driven approaches to science and policy raises a wide range of concerns, including the claim that this is just macrogeography writ large: a single-minded pursuit of social laws at the cost of treating people as particles and spatial context as abstract and sterile. I argue that this time is different: a more sophisticated social physics, spatial analysis and GIScience are emerging that emphasize heterogeneity and spatial context as key drivers of interesting behavior. I also argue that new social physics suggests another path to geographic knowledge somewhere in the middle: mesogeography – a focus on how processes evolve in spatial context. I discuss GIScience techniques and approaches that can facilitate the quest for mesogeographic knowledge.

Keywords: GIScience, social physics, spatial analysis, spatial context, spatial heterogeneity