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I was raised in the Lake District in northwest England, attended a grammar school that was founded in 1613 and studied geography at the University of Salford in Greater Manchester (B.Sc. (Hons), 1987-90) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) at the University of Edinburgh (M.Sc., 1990-91).
From 1992-94 I was a research associate at the North West Regional Research Laboratory at Lancaster University, working with Professors Tony Gatrell and Robin Flowerdew on a number of research projects and contracts for government agencies, mainly concerned with socio-economic issues. Apart from my current occupation, this was the best job I’ve ever had, allowing me to get to know many great people in the academic world of geography and resulting in an invitation from Professor Michael Batty to conduct Ph.D. research at the National Center for Geographic Information (NCGIA) at the State University of New York at Buffalo, starting in August 1994.
With an excellent Ph.D. committee led by Professor Athol Abrahams and including Professors David Mark and Mike Woldenberg I studied small-scale runoff processes in semi-arid ecosystems as part of the National Science Foundation’s Jornada Basin Long Term Ecological Research project in southern New Mexico. I was particularly interested in tying spatial modeling procedures to field research and enjoyed many days of surveying and conducting rainfall simulation experiments in the desert near Las Cruces.
After completing my Ph.D., I had a short stint at an environmental engineering company in the Buffalo area working on a water quality modeling project. Then came a big move to the Pacific northwest to work with major agrichemical companies on endangered species risk assessment projects, a position that provided a good deal of experience in many areas, such as conducting workshops, managing staff and developing processes to meet private sector and Environmental Protection Agency requirements. My last position was another short one, this time working in a GIS consulting company in Seattle.
In April 2012 it was time to set up my own business. Specifically, I focus on developing GIS tools and processes along with supporting infrastructure, but more generally I help people think clearly about things in ways they wouldn’t otherwise have done, an ability I attribute to my strong and varied experience in academia and the private sector, as well as to living in and traveling in different cultures.
In the spirit of helping people, I started the Lone GIS Professional Initiative in 2008 to support those working in GIS on their own or in small groups and have orchestrated several conference events as part of this effort, most recently at the 2013 Washington GIS Conference in Lynnwood, Washington on the subject of running your own GIS business. At that conference I was elected to the Washington URISA Board of Directors, which gives me a new platform for continuing to support the work of GIS professionals at all levels and in a wide variety of organizations.
Outside of work, I enjoy climbing mountains, hiking, running, cycling, traveling and am a big fan of Bob Dylan.
I became a United States citizen in October 2010.
For further details of my experience and education, please see my professional background page.