prof.dr. J.I. Blanford (Justine)

Full Professor

About Me


Since my time of scrambling over mountains and through bat guano, I have accumulated considerable and varied research experiences as an active researcher and educator.  I use GIS, big datasets, and a variety of geospatial computational and analysis methods to address applied research questions across a range of topics from sinkholes to sky islands, tornadoes, malaria and migration, among others.  At its core, my research has focused on broad issues related to human health, particularly in relation to climate and climate change, examining causes and consequences from local to global spatial and temporal scales, and anywhere in between that is relevant to the system of study.

As the quantity and availability of geospatially enabled data continue to increase, so do the concomitant challenges and opportunities associated with the appropriate gathering, analyzing and dissemination of the findings from these data.  Spatial Data and GIScience clearly play a central role in addressing many real-world problems and, from an educational perspective, I am interested in expanding and strengthening Spatial Data and GIScience education, as well as building scholarly communities and networks to foster multi-disciplinary research and education.

Areas of Expertise: Spatial Data Science, geohealth, spatial analysis, data mining


It is an exciting time to be in the field of GIS/ Geospatial (Data) Sciences! Technologies have evolved making the collection and communication of spatial data much easier. Although there has been an explosion in the availability of geospatial data, asking pertinent questions and sifting through streams of data to make sense of the world in which we live, remains a challenge.


I use GIS, big datasets, spatial analysis methods and visualizations to address applied research questions across a wide range of topics.  My work concerns issues related to:

  • health geographics/geohealth, in particular understanding the ecology of disease/health across space and time;
  • the use of novel technologies and data sources to better understand mobility and perceptions within communities;
  • how places are connected and how this affects the health and well-being of society.

Consequently, my work intersects all aspects of geography (physical, human, GIScience and environment and society).

The fun part of using GIS/Geospatial (Data) Science and Spatial Analysis is that it can be applied to all disciplines to view where something is, explore patterns and relationships, model different outcomes and develop hypotheses whether this ranges from sports analysis to disease risk.  To do so may require the use of large datasets, alongside data-driven and/or theoretical approaches. In general, I am interested in using Geospatial technologies and GIS/ Spatial Data Science:

  • to better understand mechanisms influencing health and well-being across space and time
  • to leverage diverse data sources to understand changing risks;
  • to determine how we can effectively integrate these into a framework that enhances decision-making processes and provides sustainable solutions.

From an educational perspective, I am interested in:

  • expanding and strengthening Geographic Information Science education;
  • building scholarly communities and networks to foster multi-disciplinary GIScience research;
  • promoting education that balances interactions in both a face-to-face and online learning environment.

As an academic who has taught in a program geared towards working professionals, and who has also worked outside of academia, I appreciate the many levels of education needed to help students and professionals develop skill sets that enable them to excel within the realm of GIS, GIScience and the Spatial Data Sciences across a wide range of disciplines and industries.  As a result, I am interested in enhancing online learning experiences for students by promoting student scholarship through the development of an interactive community-based environment that enables the exchange of knowledge, enhances collaborations between students, and builds professional social networks.


Blanford, J. I., Bowlick, F. J., Gidudu, A., Gould, M., Griffin, A., Kar, B., Kemp, K., de Róiste, M., deSabatta, S., Sinton, D., Strobl, J., Toppen, F., & Unwin, D. (2022). Lockdown lessons: an international conversation on resilient GI science teaching. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 46(1), 7-19. https://doi.org/10.1080/03098265.2021.1986687
Blanford, J. I., & Jolly, A. M. (2021). Public health needs GIScience (like now!). 1-11. Paper presented at 24th AGILE Conference on Geographic Information Science, 2021, Virtual Conference. https://agile-giss.copernicus.org/articles/2/18/2021/
Green, B. , & Blanford, J. I. (2020). Refugee cAmp population estimates using automated feature extraction. In T. X. Bui (Ed.), Proceedings of the 53rd Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, HICSS 2020 (pp. 2197-2206). (Proceedings of the Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences; Vol. 2020-January). IEEE Computer Society. https://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/handle/10125/64009
Felmlee, D. H. , Blanford, J. I., Matthews, S. A., & MacEachren, A. M. (2020). The geography of sentiment towards the women’s March of 2017. PLoS ONE, 15(6), 1-21. [e0233994]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0233994
Other Contributions

Selected Publications

UT Research Information System

Google Scholar Link


Education: building community

e!geoCommunity@ITC - join our geospatial education community to learn more about important topics concerned with education.

geohealth courses@ITC:

geohealth - interested in learning how to integrate geographic information, geospatial technologies and spatial data science with health and disease? Join us for a 10 week online course

In addition to the geohealth courses we also offer a wide range of courses that will help you build your geospatial knowledge and skills.

Affiliated Study Programmes


Courses Academic Year  2022/2023

Courses in the current academic year are added at the moment they are finalised in the Osiris system. Therefore it is possible that the list is not yet complete for the whole academic year.

Courses Academic Year  2021/2022

Contact Details

Visiting Address

University of Twente
Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation
ITC (building no. 75), room 2-116
Hengelosestraat 99
7514AE  Enschede
The Netherlands

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Mailing Address

University of Twente
Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation
ITC  2-116
P.O. Box 217
7500 AE Enschede
The Netherlands

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