GGIS Welcomes Five New Faculty Members!



Geography & Geographic Information Science is thrilled to welcome five new faculty members to the department this fall!  We have asked them to provide a brief self-introduction and please visit their individual profile pages linked at the bottom of this page to learn more and get in touch.


Nikolai Alvarado, Assistant Professor

nikolai alvarado

I started as a Marine Biology major before eventually switching to Latin American Studies for my Bachelor’s. As an undergraduate, I would often  write papers on land conflicts and racism in countries including Chile, Brazil, and Costa Rica. Eventually, I presented one of these papers at a student conference where a geography graduate student from Brazil told me that my work was squarely within the concerns of political ecology. She encouraged me to look into geography as I moved forward in my education, and I am happy to have taken her advice seriously. My research lies at the intersection of urban politics, racism, and South-South migration.




Siân Butcher, Assistant Professor

sian butcher

While getting my degree in Development Studies at the University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa, I took an elective during my 4th year of study called “Geography of Development” with Professor Sophie Oldfield that introduced me to Geography’s relational approach to the political, social, economic, spatial, and environmental. I fell in love with Geography; the way it grappled with theoretical concerns as well as the lived urgencies and contradictions of my local context, Southern Africa, in global perspective. I went on to do my Masters in Geography at UCT, and then my PhD in Geography at the University of Minnesota. My research sits at the intersection of critical human geography, critical development studies and southern urbanism.



Ziqi Li, Visiting Assistant Professor

Ziqi Li

My research interests are spatial statistical and computing methods, spatial data science, and the application of these techniques in multidisciplinary fields. I received my PhD from Arizona State University and my dissertation focused on the Multi-scale Geographically Weighted Regression (MGWR) model. In addition, I advocate for open and reproducible science. I'm the developer of an MGWR python package and several other pieces of open-sourced software.





Michael Minn (PhD, 2014), Teaching Assistant Professor and PSM Advisor

michael minn

I look forward to teaching and developing courses that help students from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds integrate quantitative and qualitative analysis into their work in ways that will benefit both their professional development and their own personal understanding of our world. 






Xuantong "Tony" Wang, Teaching Assistant Professor

tony wang

I obtained my PhD in Geography from the University of Denver in 2020 and my research interests include sustainability science, economics, and geographic information science. I enjoy working with students to explore our planet with GIS techniques.