John Hessler, FRGS

Applied Mathematician, Geographic Information Systems Scientist, and Professor in Baltimore, MD.

John Hessler, FRGS

Applied Mathematician, Geographic Information Systems Scientist, and Professor in Baltimore, MD.

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When not climbing in the Alps or racing a carbon fiber Cervélo, I am an applied mathematician, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) scientist, and lecturer at Johns Hopkins University, specializing in modeling the transmission of zoonotic diseases and the movement of their animal hosts.

I am the director of the biomap-lab, where our present research centers on modeling the complex transmission pathways of the 2014-2016 Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa, mapping the early spatial dynamics of SARS-CoV-2, studying the historic spatial transmission patterns of plague in Eurasia and Europe, and on tracing the movement of avian H5N1 influenza in wild bird & mammal populations.

An affiliated researcher at the Data Science & AI Institute at Johns Hopkins, I am exploring the use of machine learning in GIS environments, and have joined the struggle to understand the foundations of neural networks, using renormalization group methods.

My theoretical work concentrates on the development of wavelet and spectral techniques for geographic time-series analysis of complex problems in spatial epidemiology, Markov Random Field disease mapping algorithms, and on computational approaches to the uncertain geographic context problem.

Over the last decade at Johns Hopkins University, I have given lectures or taught the seminars, Bioinformatics and the Mapping of Disease; Bayesian Techniques for Disease Mapping; Archaeology, Ancient DNA, & the Science of Pandemics; Algorithmic & Evolutionary Game Theory; and the Mathematics of Machine & Deep Learning.

I also teach summer seminars in the use of GIS for the study of modern and historical epidemics in the Erasmus+ Program, at the Faculty of Science & Engineering of the Sorbonne University, in Paris.

The author or editor of more than one hundred articles and books, including the New York Times bestseller, MAP: Exploring the World, I am now trying to turn a mess of mathematical notes into the book, Lectures on Mereotopology and the Ontological Foundations of Geographic Information Science.

In late summer 2024, I will be giving the plenary address, To Save Lives: Lessons of a Pandemic Cartographer at the annual conference of the Royal Geographical Society, in London.

A Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, I find being close to the gentle hum of supercomputers, pondering the complex labyrinths of renormalization group theory, and exploring the philosophical knots of quantum category theory, strangely comforting.