Gary Watmough


Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Estimating livestock population using Earth Observation and Machine Learning – a case study in East Africa. Monitoring and Evaluation of Sustainable Development Goals using Earth Observation and Artificial Intelligence in Rural Africa

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Personal profile

Research Interests

Research: Gary's main research focus is in the development of approaches for geographical targeting of scarce government and NGO resources across the planet but particularly in low and middle income countries. Gary’s research supports the UN’s call for a data revolution in support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to help monitoring progress and contribute to geographic targeting of scarce resources. The majority of projects Gary has worked on recently have been co-designed with UN agencies and they are directly dealing with gaps in knowledge and providing required outputs for practitioners as well as furthering scientific knowledge.

Gary specialises in developing proxy metrics for measuring poverty using multi-source non-traditional data such as very-high spatial resolution satellite imagery (<1m) and open street map data. Gary is particularly interested in developing methods for using satellite imagery to map and monitor aspects of human livelihoods and how this could be used to support the targeting of resources to areas that are in specific need. 

Current research projects as principal or co-investigator:  (1) (2) Population Density Estimations using Building Footprint Identification a Data For Children Collaborative with UNICEF Project (3) Developing a childrens climate risk index with UNICEF; (4) STRATA: a collaboration between University of Edinburgh, UNEP and Earth Blox to develop a Climate Risk Index.

Current PhD Students:
  1. Peter Hargreaves: Using Earth observations to research human wellbeing in rural spaces
  2. Sam Harrison:  biodiversity and the socioeconomic links to agroforestry in the tropics 
  3. John Mutua: Estimating livestock diets in support of improved estimation of greenhouse gas emissions for the livestock sector – a case study in East Africa. 
  4. Philip Barthelme: exploring the impact of humanitarian mine clearances on tropical forest carbon storage. 

PhD Opportunities: Places for September 2022 currently advertised:

  1. Estimating livestock population using Earth Observation and Machine Learning – a case study in East Africa. 

Past/Completed Projects:

Teaching: Current teaching responsibilities include being the Programme Director MSc Environmental Sustainability. Gary teaches the following postgraduate courses in 'EO4SDGs', ‘Applied research skills in environment and society’,  ‘Research practice and project planning’, ‘Case Studies in Sustainable Development’, ‘Principles and Practices of Remote Sensing’ and undergraduate courses in 'Key Methods in Physical Geography'.  Gary is a tutor on the Observing Earth from Space MOOC.  

Administrative Roles

Programme Director for MSc in Environmental Sustainability 

Member of the School Ethics Committee, Geosciences

School contact person for the International Union of Forest Research Organisations

Collaborative Activity


B.Sc. Lancaster University, Geography

M.Sc. Southampton University, Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis

Ph.D Southampton University, Exploring the spatial associations between socioeconomic variables and remotely sensed environmental metrics in Assam, Northeast India.

FHEA: Fellow of the Higher Education Academy



personal teaching and research webpage:

External positions

Consultant Research Scientist, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Austria

2015 → …


  • G Geography (General)
  • GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
  • SD Forestry


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