Core Faculty and Staff


Tony H. Grubesic is the Director of the Center for Geospatial Sciences and currently holds a position at the University of California at Riverside in the School of Public Policy.  His research and teaching interests are in geographic information science, regional development and public policy evaluation.  Author of over 150 research publications, his recent work focuses on community vulnerability, broadband Internet deployment, health disparities and air transportation systems.  Grubesic is also an FAA certified commercial drone pilot.  Tony's research has been funded by the National Academies of Science, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Institute for Museum and Library Services and many other state and federal agencies.  Grubesic holds a Ph.D. from Ohio State University.

Ran Wei is an Associate Professor in the School of Public Policy at UC Riverside and a co-founding faculty member of the Center for Geospatial Sciences. Her research interests lie in the development and implementation of GIScience methods and techniques to address substantive social and environmental problems. There are three methodological themes to her research: (1) spatial data uncertainty, (2) spatial optimization, and (3) spatial statistics. With an academic background in GIScience, urban planning and engineering, she contributes to these areas by pursuing quantitative and interdisciplinary methods for use in substantive contexts, especially those related to transportation and public health.

Amr Magdy is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Engineering and a co-founding faculty member of the Center for Geospatial Sciences. His research interests include database systems, spatial data management, big data management, large-scale data analytics, indexing, and main-memory management. His research is published in prestigious research venues, including ACM SIGMOD, ACM SIGSPATIAL, IEEE ICDE, IEEE TKDE, and VLDB Journal. Amr's research is recognized among best papers in IEEE ICDE 2014 and ACM SIGSPATIAL 2019, and has been incubated by several industrial collaborators. In 2019, he received NSF CRII award, in addition to two NSF grants with collaborators from UC Riverside, San Diego State University, and the American Association of Geographers (AAG).

Edward Helderop is a systems analyst and associate director of the Center for Geospatial Sciences at the University of California at Riverside. His main interests include GIScience, big data, and network analytics (particularly as applied to urban infrastructure systems). His previous research explored turnover and resiliency in plant-pollinator networks and urban disaster evacuation modeling. Eddie received his M.S. in Geography from Oregon State University and his Ph.D. in Geography from Arizona State University.


Affiliated Faculty


Hoori Ajami is an Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences at UC Riverside. Hoori's main area of expertise is in Catchment Hydrology and Spatial Analysis. She uses observational data and various modeling tools to understand hydrologic processes such as groundwater recharge, surface water-groundwater interactions, and land surface processes at a catchment scale. Hoori has extensive experience in spatial analysis and custom application development for hydrological models. Her research interests are in mountain hydrology, computationally efficient hydrologic model development, ecohydrology, and application of remote sensing and isotopic data in characterizing hydrologic cycle.

Qingfang Wang is a professor of geography and public policy and academic director of the Inland Center for Sustainable Development at UC Riverside. Her research and teaching interests lie broadly in inequality and development with a particular concern for underserved communities (such as immigrants, people of color, and women). Funded by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Kauffman Foundation, the Washing Center for Equitable Growth, and other agencies, her work focuses on the following areas: racial/ethnic labor market segmentation; fostering inclusive entrepreneurship; higher education and community & regional development; and transnational migration of knowledge and labor.

Vassilis J. Tsotras is a Professor at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at UC Riverside (UCR) where he directs the UCR Data Science Center. He is currently the director of the Data Science Major (a new undergraduate degree offered between the Computer Science and Statistics departments). His research is in the general area of Databases with a focus on big data management and spatial and spatio-temporal data . His work has been supported through various grants from NSF, the Department of Defense, and industry. He holds a PhD from Columbia University.

Jake R. Nelson is a geographic information scientist focusing on social and environmental outcomes of humans’ interaction with the built and natural environment. He is specifically focused on social and environmental vulnerability as it relates to exogenous shocks that are either anthropogenically or naturally induced. He approaches these phenomena through a spatial lens, emphasizing the use of geospatial and statistical techniques and relying on unmanned aerial vehicles as a primary data collection tool.

Wei Kang is an Assistant Professor at the University of North Texas. Her research interests are methodological - spatial statistics/econometrics, as well as empirical - housing, urban & neighborhood change, inequality, growth, and sustainability. Her current projects focus on housing, disaster resilience, and neighborhood dynamics. She is the core developer and maintainer of the widely used open-source spatial analysis python library – PySAL.