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Personal profile

Personal profile

I am a Geographer with a PhD in Geography from the University of Leeds, UK. I am a professor in Spatial Agriculture and Food Security at the Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC) of the University of Twente, the Netherlands. I am also head of the Natural Resources Department in ITC.

My academic work uses Earth observation and spatial information for improved food security. The unprecedented availability data allows us to generate new research questions and ideas about the sustainable use of resources for food production, and the resilience of food systems. It also supports the generation of information and datasets that provide more insightful and actionable information about current and future food systems, and I have been active in developing and supporting such open access datasets.

More about my background. I am from Swansea, Wales in the UK though I am now a dual UK/NL citizen. I am/was a first-generation student. I studied Civil Engineering for my Bachelor’s degree (Nottingham, UK), but soon realised that I did not want to build those kinds of bridges and that I was more interested in how everything and everyone is connected and how to understand those connections through maps. After finishing my MSc in Geographic Information Systems (Leicester, UK) in 1997, I worked as a junior research fellow in Colombia at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and started work on my PhD on multiscale analysis of the links between poverty and the environment. This first job experience convinced me to continue working in international research, development, and policy related to agriculture and the environment. I worked for two years at the World Bank in Washington DC contributing to several World Development Reports. I spent four years at the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission in Italy working on environmental indicators and global accessibility mapping. After that I spent six years as a senior scientist and GIS/RS lab manager at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines. I have also worked as a consultant for the United Nations at FAO and UNEP. I joined ITC in 2015.

Research interests

My work – with students and colleagues at ITC and around the world - concerns the following questions that are embedded in some of society’s greatest challenges.

  • Where, when, and how is food produced?
  • How much is produced, what are the risks to production, and how can these risks be mitigated?
  • How do food and people move from A to B and what happens in the event of disruptions or changes to our food transport network infrastructure?

These are quite diverse questions, which have evolved from my background in geography, which is like having a licence to study anything, anywhere. My contributions to these research areas have featured in The Economist, New Scientist, Nature, and Science as well as in flagship policy reports for the World Bank and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO). A fuller list is here.

My research is often conducted through the co-supervision of MSc and PhD students, and you can find out more about these exciting projects here.

I serve on the Advisory Board of the journal Food Security where I am also a Senior Editor.


I lecture and supervise MSc students on Food Security in both the M-GEO and Spatial Engineering MSc programmes at ITC.


I coordinate several research, education and capacity development projects related to food security and the environment.

I have several roles that relate to the three pillars of ITC. With respect to research, I coordinate the research programme within the EENSAT project (Ethiopian Education Network to Support Agricultural Transformation. I am a member of the Steering Group for the 4TU Centre for Resilience Engineering (4TU RE) in the Netherlands. In terms of education, I am the coordinator of the Erasmus+ MSc in Geo-information Science and Earth Observation for Environmental Modelling and Management (GEM). I am co-chair for Capacity Development in the Group on Earth Observations Global Agricultural Monitoring Initiative (GEOGLAM). I am also a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, Geography, University of Leeds


Award Date: 18 Jun 2004

Master, Geographical Information Systems, University of Leicester


Award Date: 17 Dec 1996

Bachelor, Civil Engineering, University of Nottingham


Award Date: 15 Jul 1994

External positions

Senior Scientist, Head of GIS lab, International Rice Research Institute


Scientist, Head of GIS lab, International Rice Research Institute


Consultant, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations


Consultant, World Bank


Post-Doctoral Fellow / Scientific Officer, European Commission Joint Research Centre Institute


Consultant, United Nations Environment Programme


Research fellow, University of Leeds


Consultant, World Bank


Consultant, United Nations Environment Programme


Junior Research Fellow, International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)



  • S Agriculture (General)
  • Food Security
  • G Geography (General)
  • GIS
  • Remote Sensing
  • Q Science (General)
  • Spatial Science

Artificial Intelligence Expert

  • Geo Sciences
  • Energy, Sustainability, Environment and Circularity

Transport Expert

  • Spatial Analysis
  • Environmental / Climate / Resilience
  • Geo Technologies and Tools


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