Research

HyperspectralComplex human-environment systems. Transformation of the earth's social and ecological systems is occurring at a rate and magnitude unparalleled in human experience. Many attendant challenges, such as feeding growing populations or dealing with global environmental change, are manifestations of complex human-environment systems. Complex systems theory argues that some complicated systems like economies are best understood as emerging ‘bottom up’ from local interactions among constituent entities such as firms or households. I advance knowledge in a variety of research areas, including interactions among agriculture, population, and institutions; and urban issues including disease, environmental, and residential mobility. The Ecological Society of America recognized this cholarship with the Sustainability Science Award for 'outstanding contributions to sustainability science.

TrackingSpatial Science. Spatial science examines spatial phenomena, processes, and patterns through technologies such as computer mapping and mathematical modeling. Spatial computing brings together data from an array of sensors, ranging from GPS units in mobile phones to satellite-based cameras, on a range of human and environmental systems. I have published extensively in this area and have a particular interest in spatial big data and in methods arising from the complexity sciences, such as agent-based models and cellular automata. IonE has an overview on spatial thinking and environmental challenges.

Cyberinfrastructure and Big Data. Scholars interested in a wide array of social, natural, and human-environment questions face a dearth of detailed, multidecadal, global-scale data. In response to these data needs, colleagues and I have conduct cyberinfrastructure for ‘gold standard’ research data on population, socioeconomics, health, and environment. Scientists increasingly use 'big data', or very large data sets and attendant analysis approaches, to understand an enormous array of phenomena, ranging from social networks on the internet to large scale deforestation. I help direct several large projects, including the National Historical Geographic Information System (NHGIS), the largest publicly-accessible population database in the world; Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS) the world's largest individual-level population database; and IPUMS Terra, which is among the largest curated and integrated global data sets for combined human-environment data.

National Historical Geographic Information System (NHGIS) is the nation's most comprehensive source for census data, geographic data, and metadata describing population characteristics of American regions, places, and neighborhoods from 1790 to the present. With 382 billion data points, NHGIS is the largest publicly accessible population database in the world and is an essential component of the shared data infrastructure for population and health research. NHGIS collects US census data from diverse sources, formats them consistently, develops machine-readable documentation, and creates high-precision boundary files describing census geographic units over time. To eliminate major obstacles for studies of small-area population change, NHGIS has developed geographic time series that link comparable data across multiple census years. The data are broadly accessible to researchers through powerful dissemination tools that make it easy to navigate the intricacies of the US statistical system. The availability of large-scale integrated census data has opened exciting new opportunities for fine-grained contextual analyses of population dynamics and health. These data are essential for spatial analysis of mortality and disease incidence and for assessing the impact of neighborhood characteristics on health and well-being. NHGIS reduces costs for population and health researchers by minimizing redundant effort, simplifying data access, and improving data reliability. Over the past five years, the number of NHGIS users has increased 250%, and the project now disseminates seven terabytes of data per year. NHGIS is supported by:

  • National Science Foundation Methodology, Measurement, and Statistics Program, Economics Program, Geography and Spatial Science Program, and Sociology Program (08/15/2018–07/31/2023). National Historical Geographic Information System (SES-1825768). S. M. Manson, , E. Wrigley-Field, C. Fitch, and J. P. Schroeder ($999,900).
  • National Institutes of Health, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (08/15/2018–08/15/2023). National Spatiotemporal Population Research Infrastructure (2R01HD057929-11). S. M. Manson, D. Van Riper, J. P. Schroeder, and T. Kugler ($2,924,060).
  • National Institutes of Health, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (09/01/2013–08/31/ 2018). National Spatiotemporal Population Research Infrastructure (2R01HD057929). S. M. Manson, S. Ruggles, J. Schroeder, D. Van Riper, W. Thomas ($3,020,552). 
  • National Science Foundation Methodology, Measurement, and Statistics Program, and Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics (08/15/2013–07/31/ 2018). National Historical Geographic Information System (SES-1324875). S. M. Manson, J. Adams, C. Fitch. K. Genadek, S. Ruggles ($869,999). 

IPUMS Terra integrates population and environmental data across disciplinary scientific domains, enabling research into dramatic transformations of human populations, the environment, and their interactions. IPUMS Terra was recently named one of GIS Geography's top 10 GIS data sources and featured in articles on GIS Geography and GIS Lounge. IPUMS Terra is supported by:

  • National Science Foundation Sociology and Data Infrastructure Programs (09/01/17–02/28/22). RIDIR: IPUMS-Terra: Global Population and Agricultural Data (SMA-1738369). S. M. Manson, L. Cleveland, J. DeWaard, S. Ruggles, and L. Samberg ($1,452,537). 
  • National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health (09/01/2013–06/30/2018). Integrated Samples of Latin American Censuses,1960–2003 (2R01 HD044154-06). R. McCaa, D. Levison, S. M. Manson, S. Ruggles and M. Sobek. ($2,024,345).
  • National Science Foundation (09/01/2011–12/31/2016). OCI: Terra Populus: A Global Population/Environment Data Network (0940818). S. Ruggles, V. Interrante, S. M. Manson, S. Shekhar, and J. Srivastava. ($7,998,550). 

See the Human-Environment GIS site for more detail on research projects.

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