David Bennett

David Bennett
Professor & Department Chair
Geographical and Sustainability Sciences
307 JH

My research interests lie at the intersection of technology, policy, and science. While my work is squarely focused on geographic information science (GIScience), I am interested in the processes and the effects of environmental decision-making. Much of my research is done in the context of multidisciplinary teams and designed to understand the social and environmental tradeoffs associated with alternative policies.

As I work on these multidisciplinary projects, I find myself most intrigued by the interactions that occur among system components. Such interactions often produce complex, nonlinear responses that would not have been foreseen through the analysis of individual subsystems. As a result, I increasingly frame my work in the context of complexity theory.  The semi-structured nature of environmental problem solving places unique and challenging demands on GIScience. Recent projects designed to address some of these demands include the use of evolutionary algorithms to generate production possibility frontiers that illustrate tradeoffs among computing criteria and the use of multi-agent based simulation to understand the impact of management decisions on the migratory behavior of elk. This latter project has reignited my interest in the representation of spatial cognition and navigation in the digital domain.

GIScience research is also being integrated into the undergraduate learning experience at The University of Iowa. For example, Professor Marc Armstrong, Mr. Jerry Mount, and I are developing The Mobile Geographic Education (MoGeo) system. Using GIS, wireless communication networks, and agent-based technologies, we integrate elements of the classroom, computer laboratory , and field class to create a contextually-aware in situ learning environment with remote, real-time access to: 1) context-specific educational materials; 2) sophisticated spatial analyses; 3) high-end visualization and simulations; 4) feedback and evaluation; and 5) instructors and peers.