Faculty Spotlight

Prof. Timothy Nyerges

Dr. Tim Nyerges received his Ph.D. in Geography in 1980 from Ohio State University where he specialized in geographic information systems (GIS) focusing on systems design and map query languages. He spent the next five years in the GIS software industry working on various GIS software development projects as a software systems architect. From 1983-1988 he was appointed to the National Committee on Digital Cartographic Data Standards as a software industry expert, and served as chair of the subcommittee on spatial data transfer.

Dr. Nyerges joined the Department of Geography at the University of Washington in 1985. Upon joining the Department he was tasked with designing a curriculum in computer-assisted cartography and GIS. He brought several course innovations to the program, developing one of the first service-learning project-focused courses in 1993, that remains an exciting capstone experience for undergraduates. In that same year he worked with the UW Libraries to develop a computer collaboratory to support group-based learning within the vacated Geography Library space. These developments helped initiate a specialty about software designs, development, and evaluation focused on group-based participatory GIS, while at the same time fostering the emergence of research and education around the world about participatory geographic information science. He was appointed Affiliate Professor in the Interdisciplinary PhD in Urban Design and Planning at University of Washington in 1995.

In 1993, Dr. Nyerges was funded by the National Science Foundation to undertake the first group-based GIS research experiments with software developed to explore collaborative spatial decision making. This lead to a series of projects funded by National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to explore beginning to end decision support. The projects explored complex decision situations for land use, transportation, water resource, and climate change involving small group to very large group social-behavioral studies about human-computer-human interaction in collaborative spatial decision making. That research scoped some of the first ideas about spatial-temporal decision support related water resource planning.

Starting in 2006, Dr. Nyerges started developing his teaching and research interests around spatial-temporal aspects of complex human-environment systems. In 2010, Guilford Press published his textbook (with co-author Piotr Jankowski) about “Regional and Urban GIS: A Decision Support Approach”. The book outlines various decision support approaches to sustainability management in urban and regional settings. In 2010, Dr. Nyerges, together with colleagues, developed the Master of GIS for Sustainability Management Program in the Department of Geography Department with Professional and Continuing Education at the University of Washington, and became its first Director. Also in 2010, he became co-PI of a National Science Foundation-funded CyberGIS Project that emphasizes high performance computing with an emphasis in spatial-temporal computing. Deliberation support software developed on previous NSF project was integrated into a CyberGIS environment.

Since 2012, the spatial-temporal research has been refined and generalized to address modelling of sustainable systems using geodesign methods. Although his teaching and research interests in decision support over the past decide have included geodesign methods, he is now deepening and broadening those efforts to compute resilience of/in sustainable systems. A recent publication about sustainable systems describes how Dr. Nyerges together with others are cultivating ideas about sustainability information science. At the core of those ideas is an ontology for computing with seven concepts: sustainable systems, resilience, vulnerability, risk, adaptation, transformation, and sustainability. Tim looks forward to working with others on these exciting developments, as well as spending time whenever possible traveling with his spouse Pat and now and again scuba diving, snorkeling, body boarding and playing golf.


Past featured faculty

Peter May