Steve Prager

Welcome to my personal home page. This page contains an assortment of information that you will hopefully find useful. In the event that you cannot find something you need in these pages, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

I am currently an associate professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Wyoming. My research here has been in the area of GIScience and specifically the development of approaches for understanding complex, uncertain and spatio-temporally varying geographic systems. Much of this work is related to my long-term interests in the area of understanding human-environment interactions in the context of questions surrounding sustainability. I have always taken an interdisciplinary perspective in my research and, increasingly, I draw from a broad array of theory including hierarchy theory, complexity theory, topology, and social-ecological systems theories. I am very interested in applying ideas from these areas to geographic questions and in understanding the role of space in affecting the resilience of human-environment systems. My current research is evaluating how an assortment of analytic and modeling approaches can be used to better understand how different spatial configurations and nestings affect human-environment systems and how those systems can be made more resilient for the people that depend on them.

The linked pages detail some of my current research, some of the courses that I teach, and some of my long-term research goals.

At the University of Wyoming I maintain close affiliation with the UW Program in Ecology and the Wyoming Geographic Information Science Center and I serve on the faculty of the Interdisciplinary MS Program in Water Resources. In addition I am also currently serving as the president-elect and vice president of the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science and have previously sat on the board of directors of the GIS Certification Institute. My interest in these board positions is to ensure that both academia and industry are advancing with respect to the latest and most pressing challenges in GIS and GIScience application, research and education.

A Quick History

"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." Emerson

Suffice it to say, my professional and academic trajectories have been anything but conventional. I have an undergraduate degree in earth science and master's degree in geography, both from the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Following that, I moved to Simon Fraser University in British Columbia where I received my PhD in Geography in 2002 following quite a few years of time split between the Puget Sound area and Vancouver, BC. Towards the latter part of this time period I began working, initially as a contractor and then later in a full capacity, for the Advanced Simulation Center, a division of Lockheed Martin Simulation, Training and Support. Though my time at LM put some distance between my degree and my first tenure track position, this was very valuable in that I was able to hone a variety of skills ranging from proposal writing and software engineering to project management. In addition, I was involved in cutting edge research and development which was ultimately a segue into my research in my current position.

Current Students

Updated March 10, 2012
Students in my lab work in a cross-section of areas with their research typically drawing and merging elements from a set of common themes including: advanced analytic and modeling techniques, decision making and decision sciences, human-environment issues, sustainability and resilience, and stakeholder engagement. I currently have several active graduate students. Among them:

Recent Graduates

Updated on October 10, 2013

I have recently graduated several students who have gone on to bigger and better things:

Lacey Johnsen sucessfully defended her thesis in 2012. Lacey developed an approach to use decision support methods, specifically the Analytic Hierarchy Process, for identifying the most appropriate enterprise GIS configurations for modern rural electric cooperatives. Lacey is putting her excellent skills to use with the Powder River Energy Corporation Cooperative.

Adam Regula graduated in 2011. Adam's research addressed issues regarding the sense of experience and place on the Appalachian Trail. His research involved numerous interviews with a variety of stakeholders and a review of the different ways in which sense of place is cultivated among the diverse set of individuals who identify the Trail as important in their lives. Building on his experiences at Wyoming, Adam is pursuing a second master's degree with the Peace Corps Master's International program with the WVU Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Design. His current research examines hardwood regeneration in central Appalachia and landowner and resident perceptions of prescribed burning.

Grant Gardner completed his master's degree in 2011. His thesis, "Using Bird Diversity to Evaluate Ecosystem Change in the Madrean Sky Islands," examines how changes in bird diversity over time can be used to evaluate ecosystem state. Over the long-term, Grant is interested in understanding the potential effects of climate change and development on bird biodiversity how we can use this information to inform adaptive management in the area. Grant was funded by the Geography GIS Teaching Assistantship and a Department of Geography scholarship. He is currently a GIS Specialist for Western EcoSystems Technologies in Laramie, Wyoming.

Arjun Dongre defended his thesis and graduated in 2010. His thesis, "A Spatially Explicit Model to Minimize Landscape Disturbance in Wyoming Energy Development Sites," uses geodesign approaches to support decision making in order to minimize the impact of road building in energy development areas. Arjun's research combines network analysis techniques with spatial decision support methods and landscape metrics and offers a new approach for designing road networks in sensitive areas. His research was partially funded by the UW School of Energy Resources. Arjun works as a GIS Specialist/Environmental Scientist for Golder Associates, based in Denver, Colorado, and is currently on assignment in Calgary, AB Canada.

Patrick Dammann graduated in 2010 when he defended his thesis on issues regarding the representation and visualization of network concepts for purposes of creating complex functional networks (e.g., multi-modal transportation networks serving a specific purpose - see my Student Showcase for a screen shot of his work). Patrick was here on exchange from Hochschule Karlsruhe - Technik und Wirtschaft in Germany. He is currently working for exp Energy Services, Inc. in Tallahassee, Florida as part of their Geomatics division. There, among other projects, he is involved in the design and planning of the Keystone XL Pipeline Project.

Please contact me if you are interested in the work of any of these students. Students are frequently interested in hearing about job opportunities or graduate school options in their areas of expertise.

Graduate Opportunity!

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We award a graduate assistantship to a talented incoming or continuing student every year to support our GIScience curriculum. The responsibilities of this position include serving as the teaching assistant for one class a semester (usually Intro and Advanced GIS) and includes a full waiver of tuition and fees along with the student stipend. This is a challenging position and requires a unique balance of teaching skills (or potential) and deep understanding of ArcGIS. If you are sharp, skilled with GIS, and think you have what it takes, please contact me or see our graduate admissions page.

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