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.
- Green, B. and Blanford, J.I. (2020) Estimating populations in refugee camps: a toolkit using remotely sensed data. Proceedings of the 53rd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. Pp 2197- 2206.
- Blanford, J.I., Huang, Z., Savelyev, A. and MacEachren, A.M. (2015) Geo-located tweets. Enhancing mobility maps and capturing cross-border movement. PLos ONE10(6): e0129202DataLink
- Blanford, J.I., Blanford, S., Paaijmans, K., Schreiber, K., Crane, R., Mann, M., Thomas, M.B. (2013) Implications of temperature variation for malaria parasite development across Africa. Scientific Reports
- Blanford, J.I., Kumar, S., Luo, W. and MacEachren, A.M. (2012) It’s a long, long walk: accessibility to hospitals, maternity and integrated health centers in Niger. International Journal of Health Geographics.
- Paaijmans, K.P., Blanford, S., Bell, A.S., Blanford, J.I., Read, A.F. & Thomas, M.B. (2010). Influence of climate on malaria transmission depends on daily temperature variation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 107: 15135–15139.
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Education: building community
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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.