John W. Hessler

Mathematician, GIS Scientist, and Professor in Baltimore, MD

John W. Hessler

Mathematician, GIS Scientist, and Professor in Baltimore, MD

Read my COVID-19 articles...

When not climbing in the Alps or racing in the saddle of a carbon fiber Cervelo, I am a Specialist in Computational Geography & Geographic Information Science (GIS) at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC and a lecturer in Evolutionary & Quantum Computing in the Graduate School of Advanced Studies of the Krieger School of the Arts and Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University.

Over the past few years I have given lectures or taught seminars in quantum field theory & computing, evolutionary computation, evolutionary game theory, GIS for bioinformatics, and the History and Science of Pandemics. Interested in the interface of computation and neuroscience, I have also taught classes in the mapping of the human brain, and computational theories of consciousness.

I am the founder of the New Geometries Laboratory (NGL), where we combine evolutionary computation & geospatial data, along with advances in bioinformatics, to study complex spatial analysis problems, like mapping COVID-19. Recently, I spoke about the science of mapping COVID-19 & phylogenetics in an interview with CITYLAB and about the history of pandemics in the Americas on C-Span.

At the NGL, we are also interested in the foundations of evolutionary computing and its relationship with the theory of natural selection. We ponder the mathematical intricacies of evolutionary game theory, wonder about the mysteries of the spatial dynamics of zoonotic pathogens, and marvel at the complexity to be found in Darwin’s tangled bank.

We have recently become interested in mapping the geography of bat based zoonotic pathogens related to Ebola, Marburg Virus, SARS and SARS-CoV-2. Our main projects focus on how understanding the spatial dynamics of zoonotic pathogens and species distribution helps identify and understand past, current and future virus spillovers.

The author of more than one hundred articles and books, including the New York Times selection, MAP: Exploring the World, my writing and work has been featured in many national media outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, Discover Magazine, WIRED, the Atlantic’s CITYLAB, the BBC, CBS News and most recently on NPR’s All Things Considered.

I find being close to the gentle hum of supercomputers, the subtle, yet meaningful aerodynamics of a Cervelo racing bike, and the mind-bending complexities of RNA mutation, strangely comforting.

  • Work
    • Johns Hopkins Univeristy / LoC