John W. Hessler, FRGS

Mathematician, GIS Scientist, and Professor in Baltimore, MD

John W. Hessler, FRGS

Mathematician, GIS Scientist, and Professor in Baltimore, MD

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When not climbing in the Alps or racing a carbon fiber Cervélo, I am a specialist in Computational Geography & Geographic Information Science (GIS) at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC., and a lecturer at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD.

Over the last few years I have given seminars about or taught classes in Evolutionary & Algorithmic Game Theory; Complexity Science & the Modeling of Pandemics; and the Mathematics of the Redistricting & Gerrymandering Problem.

I am the founder of the λ-LAB where our philosophy is to apply the theory of complex systems to some of the difficult policy issues facing the world today.

The lab’s theoretical work is centered on developing new Bayesian and statistical mapping techniques for tracing the hosts and spread of current and historic zoonotic pathogens, especially Ebola virus and SARS-CoV-2.

Some of our recent projects include using bioacoustic recordings and wavelet analysis to track bat populations, and studying the geospatial and phylogenetic variation of Rhinolophus bats—thought to be the hosts of SARS-CoV-2.

Interested in the policy analysis applications of complex systems theory, I have given briefings to Congressional staff and policy makers around the US on a wide range of current challenges such as the science of redistricting, internet and broadband access, the geospatial dynamics of health care and the de-industrialization of small cities.

We are also focused developing new statistical tools for mapping far from equilibrium processes, like the spread of pandemics, the rapid economic shifts, brought about by war and natural disasters, and mass population movements and refugee flows.

The author of more than one hundred articles and books, including the New York Times bestseller, MAP: Exploring the World , my work has been featured in many media outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, the BBC, CBS News and NPR’s All Things Considered.

Trying to imagine a process based ontology for the next generation of spatial computing and GIS, I am currently trying to turn a mess of scribbled mathematical course notes into a book entitled, Lectures on Mereotopology and the Ontological Foundations of Geographic Information Science.

A Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, I find being close to the gentle hum of supercomputers, pondering the depths of James Joyce’s Ulysses, and confronting the intricate philosophical knots of evolutionary algorithms, strangely comforting.