Rick Church Selected for 2014 UCGIS Research Award


Chaowei Yang, Chair of the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS) Research Committee, just made the following announcement: “As Chair of the UCGIS Research Committee, I am honored to announce that Dr. Richard Church was selected for the 2014 UCGIS Research Award for his highly-cited “Maximal Covering Location Problem” paper and relevant fundamental contribution to GIScience. The selection was made by a committee chaired by Dr. Luc Anselin with Drs. Ming Tsou, Jochen Albrecht, and Ross Meentemeyer. We are honored to present this award to someone with Dr.Church’s distinguished record and career accomplishments (as evidenced by the following award citation).

2014 UCGIS Research Award Citation for Professor Richard Church:

Richard Church, currently Professor of Geography and Associate Dean of Mathematical, Life and Physical Sciences at the University of California, Santa Barbara 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. His findings have impacted a range of disciplines and enhanced planning and decision making for urban, regional, and environmental management.

He 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).

Professor Church 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 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award, Section on Location Analysis of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS – 2012).

Editor’s note: Many thanks to Geography graduate student Crystal English for bringing this material to our attention–Dr. Church tends to hide his light under a bushel…

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Richard Church is a Professor of Geography at UCSB. He specializes in the analysis of problems defined over space and time, including logistics and transportation, location theory, water resource systems, and urban and environmental systems, using and developing new techniques in Operations Research, GIS, Decision Theory, and Heuristics. He holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Systems Engineering from The Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Church has taught courses in Civil and Environmental Engineering, Industrial Engineering, Management Science and Geography (photo credit: Randall Lamb)

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Since joining the faculty of the Department of Geography in 1980, Professor Richard Church has advised 14 PhD dissertation committees and 28 Masters theses. He has also served on 25 doctoral and 22 Masters committees. One of his colleagues writes, “It has always amazed me that he can give so much time to his students and still get so many of his own sole-authored papers published and give freely of his time to department and university service.” For his dedication and exemplary mentorship of graduate students Professor Richard Church was awarded the UCSB 2012-2013 Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award