Dave Bennett

Dave Bennett
Professor and Department Chair
306 Jessup Hall
Research Interests: 
geographic information science; the processes and effects of environmental decision-making, human/environment interactions

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 am 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.


  • GEOG: 1050 | Fundamentals of GIS
  • GEOG: 3520 | GIS for Environmental Studies: Introduction
  • GEOG: 4520 | GIS for Environmental Studies: Applications
  • GEOG: 4020 | Field Methods: Mapping and Mobile Computing
  • GEOG: 4030 | Senior Project Seminar
Graduate Advisees: 


Current Graduates    

Patrick Bitterman     



Haoyi Xiong PhD  
Shuang Xu PhD  
James Madden MS  
Past Graduates    
Heather Conley    PhD         2006      
Susana Cortina PhD 2011
Jerry Mount



Raja Sengupta



Wenwu Tang



Michael Bulfin



Dan Field



Lifang Huang



Kris Lund



Songfeng Wang



Xiaoying Yang



Dengke Liu MA 2016
Reid Simmer MA 2016
Grants & Funding: 

Selected Grants

NSF-CNH. 2011-2016. Principal investigator for “People, Water, and Climate: Adaptation and resilience in agricultural watersheds” (#1114978) $1,011,739 with Nandita Basu, William Gutowski, Marian Muste, and Silvia Secchi.

NSF-EPSCoR. 2011-2014. Senior personnel on Iowa EPSCoR: Harnessing Energy Flows in the Biosphere to Build Sustainable Energy Systems, $20,000,000. Cyberinfrastructure.  Brown, R. (PI), Butler, P. (Co-PI), Nordmeyer (Co-PI). Bennett, D.A. (senior personnel responsible for UI’s CI platform).

NSF IGERT. 2010-2014 . Co- principal investigator for “Geoinformatics for Environmental and Energy Modeling and Prediction (GEEMaP)”, $2,631,084. With Kate Cowles (PI), Marc Armstrong, Alberto Segre, and Kathleen Stewart.

IA-WIND. 2011-2013. Principal investigator for “Undergraduate Certificate in Wind Energy.” $99,156. With Marc Linderman, Marc Armstrong, Marian Muste, Pablo Carrica, and Andrew Kusiak.

NSF-CDI. 2008-2011. Co-principal investigator for “CDI-Type II: Understanding Water-Human Dynamics with Intelligent Digital Watersheds.” (#0835607) $899,391. With Jerald L. Schnoor (PI), Andrew Kusiak, Marian Muste, and Silvia Secchi.

NSF Human Social Dynamics. 2006-2011. Principal investigator for “Collaborative Research: AOC Social Complexity and the Management of the Commons.” (#0624297) with Paul Robbins, David McGinnis, Catherine Kline,  (Full grant $675,000, UI $198,355).

NGA NURI. 2008-2010. Principal investigator for “Simulating Spatiotemporal Interactions of Mobile Entities.” $299,000. With Kathleen Stewart.

NSF EPSCoR Planning Grant. 2009. Senior Personal for “Iowa EPSCoR: Harvesting Energy Flows in the Biosphere” $200,000. With Robert Brown (PI), Greg Carmichael (Co-PI, with participants from ISU, UNI.

USDA. 2008-2009. Principal investigator for “A Geographical Information System (GIS) for the FSM:  Building Capacity to Sustain Culture and Biodiversity” $40,000.

NSF-SGER. 2008. Co-principal investigator for “Modeling Community Response to Natural Disaster.” $44,484. With Kathleen Stewart (PI).

NSF Biocomplexity in the Environment: Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems, 2002-2008. Principal investigator for "Complexity across boundaries - coupled human and natural systems in the Yellowstone Northern Elk Winter Range." (#0216588) $106,230. This is a subgrant through Idaho State University, PI Dave McGinnis, with Duncan Pattern, Jason Shogren, and Bill Travis (full grant $750,000).

National Cancer Institute. 2002-2005. Investigator for "A GIS-based workbench to interpret cancer maps." PI. Gerard Rushton, with Barry Green. $1,494,201.

NSF/EPA/USDA Water and Watersheds. 1999-2002. Principal investigator for "Understanding the social context for ecological restoration in multiple-ownership watersheds: the case of the Cache River, Illinois". $91,000. This is a sub-grant through SIUC- Steve Kraft (PI), Chris Lant (PI), with Jeff Beaulieu, Jane Adams, Leslie Duram (full grant $718,000).

USDA, 2002-2004. Co-principal investigator for "Water quality protection in agroecosystems: integrating science, technology, and policy." $384,000. with R. Rajagopal (PI) and David Osterberg.

NSF Biocomplexity in the Environment: Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems, incubator grant. 2001-2002. Co-principal investigator for "Modeling biocomplexity and socio-economic decision-making under uncertainty." $46,183. with David McGinnis (PI).


Selected Publications: 

Ding, D., Bennett, D.A., Secchi, S. in review. Investigating impacts of alternative crop market scenarios on land use change with an agent-based model. Land.

Smith, B., Mount, J., Bennett, D.A., Shed, P. 2014. Collaborative research methodologies and the construction of a national geospatial clearinghouse to conserve biodiversity in the Federated States of Micronesia. Applied Geography. 54:198-208

Nyerges, T., Roderick, M., Prager, S., Bennett, D., Lam, N. 2014.  Foundations of Sustainability Information Representation Theory: Spatial-Temporal Dynamics of Sustainable Systems. International Journal of Geographical Information Science, 28(5): 1165-1185.

Stewart, K., Glanville, J., Bennett, D.A., 2013. Exploring spatiotemporal and social network factors in community response to a major flood disaster. Professional Geographer. DOI:10.1080/00330124.2013.799995.

Gong, Z, Tang, W., Bennett, D.A., and Thill, J.C., 2013, Parallel agent-based simulation of individual-level spatial interactions within a multi-core computing environment. International Journal of Geographical Information Science, 27(6):1152-1170.

Muste, M., Bennett, D.A., Secchi, S., Schnoor, J., Kusiak, A., Arnold, N. Rapolu, U., Ding, D., Mishra, S. 2013, End-to-End Cyberinfrastructure for Decision-Making Support in Watershed Management. J. of Water Resources Planning and Management, 139:565-573.

Bennett, D.A., Tang, W., and Wang, S. 2011. Toward an understanding of provenance in complex land use dynamics. Journal of Land Use Science, 6(2):211-230.Tang W. and Bennett D.A. 2011. Parallel agent-based modeling of spatial opinion diffusion accelerated using graphics processing units,  Ecological Modelling, 222(19):3605-3615.

Tang, W., Wang, S., Bennett, D.A., and Liu, Y., 2011, Agent-based modeling within a cyberinfrastructure environment: a service-oriented computing approach. International Journal of Geographical Information Science, 25(9):1323-1346.

Tang, W., Bennett D.A., Wang, S. 2011. A Parallel agent-based model of land use opinions. Journal of Land Use Science, 6(2):121-135.

Tang, W., Bennett, D.A. 2010.  Agent-based modeling of animal movement: a review. Geography Compass, DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-8198.2010.00337.x

Bennett, D.A., and McGinnis, D. 2008. Coupled and Complex: Human-Environment Interaction in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, USA. Geoforum, 39:833–845.

Gartner, G., Bennett, D.A., and Morita, T. 2007. “Toward Ubiquitous Cartography” Cartography and Geographic Information Science, 34(4):247-257.

Xiao, N., Bennett, D.A., Armstrong, M.A. 2006. Interactive evolutionary approached to multiobjective spatial decision making: a synthetic review.  Computers, Environment, and Urban Systems, 31: 232-252.

Bennett, D.A., and Tang, W. 2006. Modeling Yellowstone's northern range elk herd as adaptive, spatially aware, and mobile agents. International Journal of Geographical Information Science, 20(9):1039-1066.

Brown, D.G., Aspinall, R., Bennett, D.A. 2006, Landscape models and explanation in landscape ecology—a Space for generative landscape science? The Professional Geographer, 58(4):369–382.

Armstrong, M.P. and Bennett, D.A. 2005. A manifesto on mobile computing for geographic education. The Professional Geographer 57(4):506-513.

Lant, C.L. Kraft, S.E., J. Beaulieu, D. Bennett, T. Loftus, and J. Nicklow, 2005. Using Ecological-Economic Modeling to evaluate policies affecting agricultural watersheds. Ecological Economics 55(4): 467-484.

Bennett, D.A., Xiao, N., Armstrong, M.P. 2004. Exploring the geographic consequences of public policies using evolutionary algorithms. Annals of the Association of American Geographers. 94(4):827-847.

Armstrong, M.P ., Xiao, N., Bennett, D.A. 2003. Using genetic algorithms to create class intervals for choropleth maps. Annals of the Association of American Geographers. 93(3):595-623.

Sengupta, R.R. and Bennett D.A. 2003. Agent-based modeling environment for spatial decision support. International Journal of Geographic Information Science.17(2): 157-180.

Xiao, N., Bennett, D.A., Armstrong, M.P. 2002. Using evolutionary algorithms to generate alternatives for multiobjective site-search problems, Environment and Planning A. 34 (4): 639-656.

Xiao, N., Bennett, D.A., Middleton, B., Fessel, K. 2002. SISM: a multi scale model for cypress swamp regeneration. Geographical and Environmental Modelling. 6(1):99116.

Bartley, J.D., Buddemeier, R. W., Bennett, D.A. 2001. Coastline complexity: a parameter for the functional classification of coastal environments. Journal of Sea Research, 46(2):87- 97.

Lant, C., Loftus, T., Kraft, S., and Bennett, D.A. 2001. Land-use dynamics in a southern Illinois (USA) watershed. Environmental Management, 28(3): 325-340.

Bennett, D.A. and Vitale, A. 2001. Evaluating non-point pollution policy using a tightly coupled spatial decision support system. Environmental Management, 27(6):825-836.

Sengupta, R., Bennett, D.A., Beaulieu, J., and Kraft, S.E. 2000. Evaluating the impact of policy -induced land use management practices on non-point source pollution using a spatial decision support system. Water International, 25(3),437-445.

Bennett, D.A., Wade, G.A., and Armstrong M.P. 1999. Exploring the solution space of semi-structured geographical problems using genetic algorithms. Transactions in GIS. 3(1):51-71.

Bennett, D.A. 1997. Managing geographical models as repositories of scientific knowledge. Geographical and Environmental Modelling. 1 (2): 115-133.

Bennett, D.A. 1997. A framework for the integration of geographical information systems and modelbase management. International Journal of Geographical Information Science 11(4): 337-357.

Bennett, D.A., Armstrong, M.P. 1996. An inductive knowledge-based approach to terrain feature extraction. Cartography and Geographic Information Systems. 23(1): 3-19.

Armstrong, M.P. and Bennett, D.A. 1990. A bit-mapped classifier for groundwater quality assessment. Computers and Geosciences, 16(6): 811-832.

Bennett, D.A., and Armstrong M.P. 2010. Fundamentals of geographic information systems (GIS). In Manual of Geospatial Science and Technology, second edition, edited by J. Bossler (London:Taylor and Francis).

Bennett, D.A. and Tang, W. (2008), "Mobile aware intelligent agents," in Understanding Dynamics of Geographic Domains, eds. M. Yuan and K. Stewart, Boca Raton: CRC Press/Yaylor & Francis, pp. 171-186.

Bennett, D.A. 2007. Evolutionary Algorithms. Encyclopedia of Geographic Information Science, edited by K. Kemp (Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications).

Bennett, D.A., Armstrong, M.P., Mount. J.D. 2007. MoGeo: A location-based educational service. In Lecture Notes in Geoinformation and Cartography: Location Based Services and Telecartography, edited by G. Gartner, W. Cartwright, and M.P. Peterson (New York: Springer): 493-508.

Mount, J.D., Bennett, D.A., Armstrong, M.P. 2006. Mobile geographic education: the MoGeo system. In Lecture Notes in Geoinformation and Cartography: Geographic Hypermedia- Concepts and Systems, edited by E. Stefanakis, M.P. Peterson, C. Armenakis, V. Delis (New York: Springer): 447-465.

Feddema, J.J. Shields, J., Taylor, 0., Bennett, D. 2004. Simulating the development and migration of the monarch butterfly. In Monarch Butterfly Biology and Conservation, edited by K. Oberhauser and M. Solensky (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press).

Bennett, D.A., and Armstrong M.P. 2002. Fundamentals of geographic information systems (GIS). In Manual of Geospatial Science and Technology, edited by J. Bossler (London:Taylor and Francis).

Sengupta, R., and Bennett, D.A. 2001. Making Internet-based depositories of geographical data usable with intelligent agent technology. In Geographic Data Mining and Knowledge Discovery, edited by H. J. Miller and J. Han (London:Taylor and Francis): 110-128.

Bennett, D.A., Sengupta, R., Beaulieu, J.R., Kraft, S.E. 2000. Integrating simulation models and geographic information for environmental problem solving. In Spatial Information for Land Use Management, edited by M. J. Hill and R. J. Aspinall (Newark, NJ: Gordon & Breach Publishing):69-80.

Bennett, D.A., Wade, G.A., Sengupta, R. 1999. Geographical modeling in heterogeneous computing environments. In Interoperating Geographic Information Systems, edited by M. Goodchild, M. Egenhofer, R. Fegeas, and C. Kottman, (New York: Kluwer Publications).

Hageman, J. and Bennett, D.A. 1999. Construction of digital elevation models for archaeological applications. In Practical Applications of GIS to Archaeology: a Toolkit, edited by K.L. Westcott and J. Brandon (London: Taylor and Francis):113-127.

Bennett, D.A, Armstrong, M.P., and Weirich, F. 1996. An object-oriented model base management system for environmental simulation. In GIS and Environmental Modeling: Progress and Research Issues, edited by M.F. Goodchild, B.O. Parks, and L. T .Steyaert (Fort Collins: GIS-World Books):439-443.

Malanson, G.P., Armstrong, M.P., and Bennett, D.A. 1996. Fragmented forest response to climatic warming and disturbance. In GIS and Environmental Modeling: Progress and Research Issues, edited by M.F. Goodchild, B.O. Parks, and Steyaert (Fort Collins: GIS- World Books):243-247.