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Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach, Chair 305 E. 23rd Street • CLA 3.306 • A3100 • Austin, Tx 78712 • 512-232-1595

Jennifer A. Miller

Professor Ph.D., San Diego State University/UC-Santa Barbara

Associate Professor and Director of GIScience Center, Associated Faculty, Department of Statistics and Scientific Computing
Jennifer A. Miller

Contact

  • Phone: 512-232-1587 (prefer contact through email)
  • Office: CLA 3.428
  • Office Hours: Spring 2014: T‐Th 2:00-3:00, or by appt.
  • Campus Mail Code: A3100

Biography

Dr. Jennifer Miller teaches introductory and advanced courses in GIS at the undergraduate level. Her graduate seminars focus on GIScience and ecological applications.

Dr. Miller's general research interests lie at the confluence of GIScience, spatial analysis, and biogeography. Her specific research focus is in the application area of species distribution modeling (SDM), and much of her previous work has addressed explicitly spatial issues associated with SDM, such as incorporating spatial autocorrelation and representing spatial accuracy and uncertainty. Current research investigates the effects that spatial structure, scale and sampling strategies have on SDM using simulated data; using SDM to investigate the effects of climate change; and using spatial simulation to analyze (animal) species movement and interaction.

**Prospective students, please read this**

Selected Publications (my google scholar page):

Miller, J. (2014). Virtual species distribution models: using simulated data to evaluate aspects of model performance. Progress in Physical Geography 38(1):117-128.

Miller, J. (2012). Species distribution models: spatial autocorrelation and nonstationarity. Progress in Physical Geography 36(5):681-692.

Miller, J. (2012). Using spatially explicit simulated data to analyze animal interactions: a case study with brown hyenas in Northern Botswana. Transactions in GIS 16(3):271-291. 

Miller, J. and R.Q. Hanham (2011). Spatial nonstationarity and the scale of species-environment relationships in the Mojave Desert, CA, USA. International Journal of Geographical Information Science 25(3):423-438.

Miller, J. (2010) Species Distribution Modeling. Geography Compass 4(6):490-509.

Miller, J. and J. Franklin (2010). Incorporating spatial autocorrelation in species distribution models, in Handbook of Applied Spatial Analysis, M. Fischer and A. Getis, eds. Springer Pubs, Pgs 685-702.

Franklin, J. and J. Miller (2009). Statistical methods - Modern regression, in Spatial Inference and Prediction with Biogeographical Data, J. Franklin, auth. Cambridge University Press, pgs. 113-153.

Aspinall, R., J. Miller, and J. Franklin (2009). Calculations on the back of a climate envelope: addressing the geography of species distributions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106(16): E44.

Miller, J., J. Franklin, and R. Aspinall (2007). Incorporating spatial dependence in predictive vegetation models. Ecological Modelling 202(225-242).

Miller, J. (2005). Incorporating spatial dependence in predictive vegetation models: residual interpolation methods. The Professional Geographer 57(2): 169-184.

Interests

GIScience, Environmental/Ecological Modeling, Spatial analysis, Biogeography

GRG 360G • Envir Geographic Info Systems

37630-37645 • Fall 2014
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm CLA 0.128
show description

This course introduces basic concepts underlying geographic information systems and science (GIS), including related or integrated technologies and applications such as global positioning systems (GPS), cartography, and spatial analysis. It combines an overview of the general principles of GIS with a theoretical treatment of the nature and issues associated with the use of spatial environmental information. Although the course has a laboratory component that introduces students to the most commonly used GIS software package, the focus is on the “science behind the software” (eg, types and implications of functions and analysis, rather than just how to do the analysis).

GRG 368C • Spatial Anly/Geograph Info Sys

37655 • Fall 2014
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm CLA 1.402
show description

In this course we will explore in greater depth and breadth spatial analysis concepts introduced in GRG 360G (or similar intro GIS course). The course addresses ‘spatial problem solving’ by focusing on both the theoretical/conceptual and practical aspects of GIS modeling and spatial statistics.

GRG 360G • Envir Geographic Info Systems

37840-37855 • Spring 2014
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm CLA 0.128
show description

GRG 360G ENVIR GEOGRAPHIC INFO SYSTEMS

An introduction to the creation and use of geographic information systems.

Prerequisite: Geography 310C.

May be counted toward the quantitative reasoning flag requirement.

GRG 396T • Species Distribution Modeling

37930 • Spring 2014
Meets T 500pm-800pm CLA 4.106
show description

Prerequisite: Graduate standing; additional prerequisites vary with the topic and are given in the Course Schedule.

Restricted enrollment; contact the department for permission to register for this class. Course number may be repeated for credit when the topics vary.

GRG 368C • Spatial Anly/Geograph Info Sys

37920 • Fall 2013
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm CLA 1.402
show description

In this course we will explore in greater depth and breadth spatial analysis concepts introduced in GRG 360G (or similar intro GIS course). The course addresses ‘spatial problem solving’ by focusing on both the theoretical/conceptual and practical aspects of GIS modeling and spatial statistics. This class does not have a formal computer lab session but the exam, final project, and most of the assignments will require significant GIS analysis to be performed in a campus computer lab or on your own computer (see me if you would like a 1 year student copy of ArcGIS software (v.10)).

GRG 368C • Spatial Anly/Geograph Info Sys

37560 • Spring 2013
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm CLA 1.108
show description

In this course we will explore in greater depth and breadth spatial analysis concepts introduced in GRG 360G (or similar intro GIS course). The course addresses ‘spatial problem solving’ by focusing on both the theoretical/conceptual and practical aspects of GIS modeling and spatial statistics.

GRG 396T • Species Distribution Modeling

37645 • Spring 2013
Meets T 500pm-800pm CLA 3.106
show description

GRG 368C • Spatial Anly/Geograph Info Sys

37470 • Fall 2012
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm GRG 312
show description

In this course we will explore in greater depth and breadth spatial analysis concepts introduced in GRG 360G (or similar intro GIS course). The course addresses ‘spatial problem solving’ by focusing on both the theoretical/conceptual and practical aspects of GIS modeling and spatial statistics.

GRG 470C • Advanced Geographic Info Sys

37415-37420 • Spring 2012
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm GRG 312
show description

In this course we will explore in greater depth and breadth spatial analysis concepts introduced in GRG 360G (or similar intro GIS course). The course addresses ‘spatial problem solving’ by focusing on both the theoretical/conceptual and practical aspects of GIS modeling and spatial statistics.

GRG 393D • Geog Info Sys & Ecol Modeling

37480 • Spring 2012
Meets TH 330pm-630pm GRG 408
show description

While this seminar will cover some technical aspects, the main focus is to increase a student’s understanding of the steps involved in conceptualizing inferential models in a GIS environment. Although many of the concepts of model-building and integrating spatial analysis and GIS discussed here are general enough to be appropriate for other types of applications, examples will focus on ecological models in general, and species distribution models (SDM) in particular. There is no formal lab component although students are expected to be familiar enough with a GIS software package (ESRI ArcGIS is recommended) in order to perform analysis for their final project as well as for a group modeling exercise. Additional experience with spatial statistics or other statistical analysis is highly recommended. An introductory GIS course is the only prerequisite, although students are expected to be very computer proficient in general.

GRG 470C • Advanced Geographic Info Sys

37430-37435 • Fall 2011
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm GRG 312
show description

GRG 360G • Envir Geographic Info Systems

37610-37625 • Spring 2011
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm GRG 102
show description

This course introduces basic concepts underlying geographic information systems and science (GIS), including related or integrated technologies and applications such as global positioning systems (GPS), cartography, remote sensing, and spatial analysis. It combines an overview of the general principles of GIS with a theoretical treatment of the nature and issues associated with the use of spatial environmental information. Although the course has a laboratory component that introduces students to the most commonly used GIS software package, the focus is on the “science behind the software” (eg, types and implications of functions and analysis, rather than just how to do the analysis).

GRG 470C • Advanced Geographic Info Sys

37640-37645 • Spring 2011
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm GRG 316
show description

Study of methods of spatial analysis, design and implementation of a geographic information system, vector and raster modeling, and advanced applications of geographic information systems.

Prerequisite: Geography 360G and consent of instructor.

GRG 360G • Envir Geographic Info Systems

37215-37230 • Fall 2010
Meets MWF 200pm-300pm RLM 5.104
show description

Course description & outcomes: This course introduces basic concepts underlying geographic information systems and science (GIS), including related or integrated technologies and applications such as global positioning systems (GPS), cartography, remote sensing, and spatial analysis. It combines an overview ofthe general principles of GIS with a theoretical treatment of the nature and issues associated with the use of spatial environmental information. Although the course has a laboratory component that introduces students to the most commonly used GIS software package, the focus is on the “science behind the software” (eg, types and implications of functions and analysis, rather than just how to do the analysis).

GRG 470C • Advanced Geographic Info Sys

37235-37240 • Fall 2010
Meets MWF 1200pm-100pm GRG 316
show description

Study of methods of spatial analysis, design and implementation of a geographic information system, vector and raster modeling, and advanced applications of geographic information systems.

Prerequisite: Geography 360G and consent of instructor.

GRG 360G • Envir Geographic Info Systems

37420-37435 • Spring 2010
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm GRG 102
show description

This course introduces basic concepts underlying geographic information systems and science (GIS), including related or integrated technologies and applications such as global positioning systems (GPS), cartography, and spatial analysis. It combines an overview of the general principles of GIS with a theoretical treatment of the nature and issues associated with the use of spatial environmental information. Although the course has a laboratory component that introduces students to the most commonly used GIS software package, the focus is on the “science behind the software” (eg, types and implications of functions and analysis, rather than just how to do the analysis).

GRG 390L • Research In Geography

37540 • Spring 2010
Meets T 400pm-700pm GRG 408
show description
A. Course Purpose and Objectives
 

This course is about research in Geography, more specifically research design in Geography.  This latter term refers to the overall formulation of a research project, from its inception to completion. The careful, thorough, ordered, and informed construction of this design is a prerequisite for a successful and valuable research outcome, be it in Geography, another discipline, or in interdisciplinary settings. An essential presumption of this process is that the structure of this design must always include several specific and essential components. The character of each of these components is likely to vary dramatically from one project to the next, but they must be present. Another (and closely related) presumption is that these components must be highly integrated, interactive, and symbiotic with one another.  The need for outlining these parts and the ways in which they are related is absolutely essential for quality research, regardless of its subject matter.  You must always remember, however, that there is never one and only one possible design combination for your subject at hand. It is your task to explore the many possible combinations and find the one that is right for you and your successful research project!

 

So, what are these components and what does it mean to formulate a research design?  How do you do it?  How do you do it for your subject at hand? These questions may seem particularly daunting because of the highly eclectic and inclusive nature of Geography.  We have available to us an array of conceptual and topical perspectives within a virtually infinite number of research settings, and yet we have to make decisions, we have to make choices, as to how we put together an approach, a design, as to how to conduct research. These questions are our task at hand; these questions are the source and heart of the purpose and objectives of this class.

 

A primary concern of this course, then, is with research design, with your research design, the one that constitutes the frame of your thesis, dissertation, or even a major publication.  We are interested in the structure of that frame, in the way you intend to conduct or are conducting your research, and with the ways and means you can justify those choices you are making.  But clearly and importantly, this course is not solely about design; there is a second part, which reflects the immortal words of David Byrne: “well, how did I get here?”  This second (and very closely related to the first) focus of this course is an exploration of those frames from which you drew your approach.  That is, what are the directions in geographic research that have influenced the way in which you are constructing your research? A related question to you is: are these the most appropriate and most contemporary possible approaches available to you? In sum, then, we are interested in the design of your research and with the realm of possibilities from which you have drawn your ideas.

 

We believe that it is a mistake to try and explore the discipline as a whole and within this frame in one semester, and so we will engage contemporary geography in the context of the research being conducted by you. Some issues will be left out. If nobody is working on post-colonial theory, Lefebvre and urban design, synoptic heavy rainfall events, nonequilibrium in ecosystems, or chaos theory in geomorphology, we may not get there, at least in any detail. Conversely, the areas in which you are engaged will become of interest to all.  This means that the individual who conducts research on intra-urban migration and neighborhood change will be learning about contemporary landscape ecological changes in Botswana emanating from government policy, and vice versa. Both will be learning about the subjects at hand, certainly, but more important, s/he will be learning about the ways in which the research design for the respective topic has been developed and will become familiar with the frameworks from which the choices have been made. We will be reading many examples so we know how others who are a step ahead of us are doing it.

 

As we will soon learn and detail, ad nauseam, the two major parts to the research design are the theoretical framework and methodology.  The first provides the set of assumptions, guidelines, and questions for the work to be done, while the second tells us how you are going to do it.  And, as noted above, the two must be meticulously linked.  Now, let us add yet another important presumption of this course, namely, that an essential path to discovering the combination of theory and methodology that is just right for you is to read, read, and then read some more! How can you know if you are choosing the best direction if you don’t know the alternatives? There is no substitute for knowing the literature of your subject.  What you choose and why you choose it is yet another challenge, but you must be aware of all the choices.   An important implication here is that you must be aware of alternatives to the direction you have chosen, which makes the justification for your work yet simpler. So, did I mention that you need to explore the literature of your field and that you do this by reading?

 

Well, how do we (as a class) get there? Over the course of the semester, you will be presenting to your colleagues the nature of your research design and the sources that help you construct it, that is, the nature of your field and the range of alternatives you considered when making your choice.  The product of your work will certainly be an outline of your research design, but as important, it will be a detailed description of the essence of your research area(s) and a justification for your choices. For some, this may mean an original outline for MA work to be done, for others, it may be Chapter One (or Two) of your dissertation.  Your work will be compared, then, with progress you have made on your project, and not necessarily with the final product vis a vis your colleagues. You will be reading works in your area and presenting them to the class, you will be writing justifications of your choices, you will be demonstrating the linkages between different components of your proposal (e.g., why this methodology, given that theoretical frame?), and you will be presenting your research directions to colleagues (Jenifer and Leo included) who may not know the nature of your area; that is, you have to make the whole process intelligible to a wider geographic audience.  We will do all this through some assigned readings, many readings of your choice, and, quite important, through the demonstration of the research process by faculty and advanced graduate students who “have been there and done that.”  These visitors will provide insight into the many ways research is designed, which will include the same basic themes we will be emphasizing over and over.

 

There is more detail, much more detail, to come!

 
B. Schedule and Subject Itinerary
 
Given that this is a seminar and that exploration is the key to our collective success, Jennifer and Leo believe in little detailed structure.   We will continue to pursue the same fundamental themes that surround research design over and over again, albeit in changing forms.   This is going be cool!
 
C. Grading
 
The following percentages will be used to calculate your grade
 
Class participation                25% of your total grade
Projects, papers                     25% of your total grade
Final Presentation                 10% of your total grade 
Final Proposal                       40% of your total grade
 
 
Participation is an essential part of a seminar, so please be prepared to discuss the subject at hand, particularly within the frames and intentions of this course.  This also means that you should be prepared to discuss all assigned readings. The fact that half of your final grade is earned at the end of the semester may seem a bit steep, but the idea is that this course involves an accumulation of knowledge, perspectives, practices, and critical ways of thinking. In terms of grade, then, you must be able to demonstrate a comprehensive set of skills, abilities, and perspectives to formulate a research project within the frame of major geographic discourses; in essence, you need to describe your research in terms of its conceptual genesis.  Providing the design of a project, no matter how clever and appropriate, is not enough.  It must include the roots and sources of its development and strong justifications for the theoretical frames you have chosen, including those that are available and yet not chosen. 
 
Finally, an “A” grade in a graduate seminar is for superior work, while a “B” grade is for very good work and a “C” is for achievement that is not acceptable at the graduate level.  Pluses and minuses are given at UT for graduate courses. The purpose of this statement is to let it be known that a “B” or B+ is not for low quality work and that it is possible that some of you will earn that grade. But, this is NOT a zero-sum game, which means you are being compared to a standard, not to one another. 
 
D. Readings
 
There will be many assigned readings by me or our visitors for some classes, while at other times you will do your own readings and provide summaries and discussion. There are no assigned texts, but The Dictionary of Human Geography (2000), edited by Johnston, Gregory, Pratt, and Watts (Malden: MA, Blackwell Publishers) is really a must for most of you, including those in GISc.  There is much in the book that would be of interest to the physical geographer, although there is a Dictionary of Physical Geography, through the same publishers.  They are surprisingly inexpensive; around $40 apiece through Amazon. And trust me, they are quite sophisticated and valuable; they are not simple listings of geographic terms. I use mine often.
 
I realize you know the important journals of Geography and of your sub-disciplinary areas, but now is time to get yet more familiar with them and their brethren you don’t yet know.  You should know every article published over the last ten years in the Annals of the AAG, for example, that deals directly with your subject matter.  You should spend time (fortunately you can do it on the web) getting to know Progress in Human Geography and/or Progress in Physical Geography as a start.  Clearly, knowing the literature in your research area and in related directions is essential if you are going to make the right choices in developing your research design, so I strongly encourage you to start exploring the journals in your research directions.  Beyond the journals, of course, is a world of books, chapters, and other assorted publications relevant to your work.  Get to know them!
 
E. Very Basic Rules of the Game
 
1—Attendance is expected and is included in the class participation part of your grade.  Less than ideal attendance is likely to impact your grade negatively. This is particularly important, given that we meet only once a week.  
2—We will be using Blackboard some, which will often help with the articles, although many/most can be taken right off the web through our library. 
3—Late assignments are not accepted. Please, no exceptions.
4—All written assignments must be typed and proofed for spelling, typographical errors, and major grammatical errors. This IS graduate school, after all!
5—We expect everyone to use email as a regular form of staying in contact.  
6—The final project will be comprised of a presentation and a paper. The presentation will be a formal 20 minute lecture that will be given to our class and to invited guests. It will be followed by a question and answer period. The presentations will be scheduled for the last two weeks of the semester. There is no minimum for your paper, but we suspect it should be at least 15-20 pages, which includes the all-important sections on literature, theoretical background, methodology, justification, etc. etc.  We will talk about this much more in the future.
7—Finally, we expect all students to conduct themselves with respect toward one another (professors and students) and to observe the fundamental canons of honesty and integrity. 

GRG 360G • Envir Geographic Info Systems

36835-36850 • Spring 2009
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm GRG 102
show description

This course introduces basic concepts underlying geographic information systems and science (GIS), including related or integrated technologies and applications such as global positioning systems (GPS), cartography, and spatial analysis. It combines an overview of the general principles of GIS with a theoretical treatment of the nature and issues associated with the use of spatial environmental information. Although the course has a laboratory component that introduces students to the most commonly used GIS software package, the focus is on the “science behind the software” (eg, types and implications of functions and analysis, rather than just how to do the analysis).

Reference form

If I've agreed to write you a reference/recommendation letter, please send me the following information:

(Please use a separate form for each reference letter)

 

  1. Your name:

 

  1. What are you applying for:

 

  1. What is the due date:

 

  1. How should the letter be submitted (e.g., on-line, given to you in sealed envelope):

 

  1. What is the link for more information about the program you are applying for:

 

  1. How long have I known you:

 

  1. What classes a) have you taken with me, b) what semester and year, and c) what grade did you make:

 

  1. If applicable, in what other capacity have I known you (research assistant, project assistance, etc.):

 

  1. Describe in a paragraph why you want to pursue this goal (i.e. this grant, this fellowship, this internship, this job, etc):

 

  1. Describe in a paragraph what scholarly or academic accomplishments you think make you uniquely qualified to receive this goal (i.e. this grant, this fellowship, this internship, this job etc):

 

  1. Describe in a paragraph any special non-academic accomplishments or features of yourself (such as professional work, volunteering, participation in community organizations, etc.) that you think make you especially worthy of this goal:

 

  1. Indicate anything else you want me to highlight in my letter:

 

 

 

Information for prospective grad students

General information: Thanks for your interest in working with me in the Geography and the Environment Department at UT-Austin. You’ve no doubt already found information on applying to our graduate program, but you should also check out information on the UT Graduate School in general, and if you’re applying from outside of the US, the information here should be helpful. Lastly, here are some tips and guidelines for compiling your application for graduate school.

Working with me: At UT-Austin, we receive far more graduate applications than we can admit, therefore “fit” with a potential advisor is a very important factor in the admissions decision. Hopefully if you’ve gotten to this page, you’ve already seen my research interests and some of my publications (as well as pages with that information for other faculty members in the department). My research fits in the department’s ‘Digital Landscapes’ research cluster, so you might be interested to see what kind of work is being done in that cluster by other faculty and graduate students.  My primary research interests are using GIScience and spatial modeling/analysis to examine spatial patterns, and the applications or substantive areas in which I’m most interested are related to one or more of:

  • species distributions,
  • movement/interaction,
  • climate change,
  • health/disease.

At this time, I'm only interested in working with students whose research interests are very closely related to mine. If you are interested in GIScience/spatial modeling and at least one of the application areas above, I’d be happy to discuss our graduate program, potential research ideas, UT, or living in Austin in more detail (but please don’t email me any attachments like your CV).

In addition to similar research interests, students interested in working with me should have strong GIS skills (theory as well as concepts), the ability to program in (or willingness to learn) R and/or a GIS scripting language like Python. You should have a pretty solid background in statistics and/or biology/ecology. I strongly encourage students who work with me to pursue a graduate portfolio in either Applied Statistical Modeling or Scientific Computation (more info here).

Our graduate program's emphasis is on doctoral students, but I would also consider working with particularly well-prepared and focused master's students who intend to continue on for a PhD.

Graduate Funding: The department does have a limited number of teaching assistantships available (see here for information) and if I have research assistant opportunities available, I'll advertise them in appropriate places (including on this webpage). However, funding decisions are made after the admission decisions so unfortunately there is very little I can tell you about those opportunities now.

**New** Graduate Research Assistantship in movement ecology to start fall 2015.

 

 

 

rev 9/14

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