Richard Church, currently Professor of Geography and Associate Dean of Mathematical, Life and Physical Sciences at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has been selected for the 2014 UCGIS Research Award. He is a leading figure in scientific efforts to use and integrate spatial analytical methods with GIS. He has made seminal and sustained academic contributions to GIS, location analysis and modeling, natural resource management and transportation, and his findings have impacted a range of disciplines and enhanced planning and decision making for urban, regional and environmental management.
Dr. Church has authored over 230 publications during his 39-year career, with a vast array of co-authors representing a wide range of disciplines, including geography, business, environmental science, civil and industrial engineering, operations research, management science, mathematics and statistics, among others. His research has had a major influence on the field of GIScience. According to Google Scholar, his work has been cited over 7,900 times, giving him an h-index of 43 (ISI Web of Science indicates over 2,500 citations and an h-index of 27). He has made seminal contributions to location analysis, most notably by introducing the “Maximal Covering Location Problem” in a 1974 article in the Papers in Regional Science. This article and the problem it formalizes has become crucial to siting and facility location in that it operationalizes notions of central place theory in an optimization model that considers budgetary constraints. This work and its later extensions constitute a major contribution to the theory and application of location analysis, evidenced by over 1,350 citations to date. It has also made the transition to location software packages included in commercial GIS, such as ArcGIS and TransCAD.
A second influential aspect of Dr. Church’s research pertains to the integration of GIS and location modeling, evidenced by a large number of highly cited articles and book chapters. The culmination of this perspective on GIScience is his recent book on Business Site Selection, Location Analysis and GIS. In this work, he demonstrates how GIS and location modeling are intimately linked in a number of ways – abstraction, data quality, model specification, computational requirement and geo-visualization. In addition, he has made significant contributions to natural resource management, transportation and system vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure.
He was elected Fellow of the Regional Science Association International (2009), and Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2009), and received the Lifetime Achievement Award, Section on Location Analysis of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS – 2012).