Michael Goodchild

Mike Goodchild
UCGIS is pleased to announce that Mike Goodchild, professor of Geography and Director of the Center for Spatial Studies at UC-Santa Barbara, is the recipient of the 2010 UCGIS Research Award. He becomes the second scholar, after David Mark, to win both the UCGIS Education (2002) and Research Awards.  

The UCGIS Research Award is given annually to the originator(s) of a particularly outstanding research contribution to geographic information science (GIScience). The main criterion for choosing the awardee is the impact of the research on the theory and/or practice of GIScience, or on research using GIS, or on geographic information technology. Each year nominations are taken from any of the 75 UCGIS institutional members. A committee of well-recognized UCGIS scholars, representing many GIScience disciplines and including past awardees, evaluates the nominations.  

Mike’s contribution to GIScience are staggering and cannot be overestimated. He is in fact, considered by many to be the father of GIScience itself, hearkening back to his landmark 1992 paper, simply entitled “Geographical Information Science,” published in what was then the International Journal of Geographical Information Systems. That paper was actually based on two keynote addresses that Mike had given to the Fourth International Symposium on Spatial Data Handling in Zurich, Switerzerland, July 1990 and the Second European Conference and Exhibition on GIS in Brussels, Belgium, April 1991.  

Mike is being recognized by the UCGIS for his work within three specific themes: spatial data accuracy, digital libraries, and GIS interoperability. To quote the nomination letter:

The [research] theme of spatial data accuracy remains central, dating back to the origins of the NCGIA in 1988, and includes important contributions based on measurement theory, and on communicating and visualizing error in GIS. The importance of accuracy and uncertainty on GIS function and data models led to work on co-kriging as a conflation mechanism and the conclusion that a process model that simulates error is more valuable than static metrics.  

The digital libraries theme in [Mike’s] work is traceable to a paper in 1978. [But] the latest period includes work on the necessity of rethinking spatial scale for digital libraries, on redefining the library for the Internet era, and argues that a new appreciation of the communications approach is necessary if libraries are to make the digital transition. These themes have directly influenced work by the National Academy and are closely linked to the Alexandria Digital Earth Prototype (ADEPT), [following on from the famous Alexandria Digital Library].  

Last but not least, the NCGIA initiative on GIS interoperability pioneered and strongly influenced an emerging consensus around the need for and mechanisms to promote this goal. This work has already significantly influenced the commercial world of GIS, and a new set of applications is beginning to emerge as a consequence.  

Indeed Mike has emerged as possibly the most important figure globally not only in GIScience, but in the broader discipline of geography. He is a member of both the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. And most recently he was elected to the British Royal Society, the world’s oldest scientific academy, where new members sign their names alongside the likes of Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Stephen Hawking, and over 60 Nobel Laureates. This is particularly significant for Mike given his British roots, having taken his B.S. in physics from Cambridge, before heading to North America for a Ph.D. in Geography from McMaster University in Canada, and then faculty posts at Western Ontario and UCSB. Other awards include honorary degrees from several universities in Canada and the UK, the Founder's Medal from the Royal Geographical Society, Lifetime Achievement Awards from ESRI and GITA, induction into the URISA GIS Hall of Fame, and the French Prix Vautrin Lud, the closest thing that geography has to a Nobel Prize.

For many of us, Mike is known simply as a caring, humble, and selfless colleague and research mentor. There are thousands of GIScientists worldwide who would like to… “be like Mike.” Therefore, please join us in offering our congratulations to Michael F. Goodchild for his original and long-standing contributions to the field of GIScience.