2013 Distinguished Career Award Recipient - Keith C. Clarke

Dr. Keith Clarke received his BA from Middlesex Polytech in London and his MA and PhD from the University of Michigan. He was a faculty member at Hunter College from 1982-1986 and has been on the faculty at UCSB since 1996.


In the research realm, Dr. Clarke has been highly thought of for his work in four areas. His early work dealt with terrain modeling, where he used the techniques of fractals and spectral analysis to develop a novel method for estimating the fractal dimension of terrain. A second theme of Dr. Clarke’s research has involved an examination of the history of geographic information technologies and their roles in military and intelligence applications. An example of his work here is his controversial argument that a large proportion of technical developments that now underpin geographic information technologies originated in issues surrounding the Corona spy-satellite program in the 1960s.


Perhaps Dr. Clarke is best known for his pioneering work on the application of cellular automaton models to urban growth. Urban growth models are often difficult to calibrate, but his work has produced major advances. Finally, Dr. Clarke is known for his novel work in field GIS.  In collaboration with others at UCSB and Iowa State, he has promoted the use of mobile computing technologies and wireless connectivity to exploit the use of GIS tools in the field. For example, he has promoted the use of computers embedded in user’s clothing.


These research ideas have been published in more than 100 refereed journal articles and book chapters, and supported by numerous grants from NSF, NASA, and USGS.


In the teaching realm, Dr. Clarke has supervised 21 PhD and 40 Master’s students, and he has frequently published papers with these students.  Although certainly successful with graduate students, he also has been active in undergraduate teaching. He is author of the widely known text Getting Started With Geographic Information Systems (now in its fifth edition) and is the author of the just released e-book Maps & Web Mapping: An Introduction to Cartography. It is not surprising that in 2003 UCGIS recognized Dr. Clarke as Educator of the Year.


In the service realm, Dr. Clarke has been active at a variety of levels. For example, he chaired the department at UCSB for six years, served as President of CaGIS, served as North American editor of the prestigious journal IJGIS, chaired several National Research Council Committees, and has edited the book series in Geographic Information Science for Pearson over a 22-year period.

Reflecting these achievements, Dr. Clarke has been the recipient of numerous awards – particularly noteworthy is the John Wesley Powell Award, the USGS’s highest award for achievement.