Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Earth Observation for SDG1: Spatiotemporal poverty mapping using deep learning and statistical models

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) Improving prediction of trends in prevalence of child wasting at country level: Exploring the impact of survey timing; (2) Mapping gender related barriers for immunisation using Geographic Information Systems (GIS); (3) Developing a childrens climate risk index with UNICEF. 

Current PhD Students:
  1. John Mutua: Estimating livestock diets in support of improved estimation of greenhouse gas emissions for the livestock sector – a case study in East Africa. 
  2. Philip Barthelme: exploring the impact of humanitarian mine clearances on tropical forest carbon storage. 
  3. Michael Renfrew: Estimating livestock population using Earth Observation and Machine Learning – a case study in East Africa. 
  4. Saeeda Gouhari: Monitoring and Evaluation of Sustainable Development Goals using Earth Observation and Artificial Intelligence in Rural Africa
  5. Reason Mlambo: Spatiotemporal poverty mapping using earth observation data and deep learning in Africa
  6. Seán Ó Héir: Explainable Population Estimation Using Deep Learning from Satellite Imagery

PhD Opportunities: Places for September 2024 currently advertised:


PhDs Submitted:

  1. Sam Harrison:  biodiversity and the socioeconomic links to agroforestry in the tropics 
  2. Peter Hargreaves: Using Earth observations to research human wellbeing in rural spaces

Past/Completed Projects:

Teaching: Gary teaches the following postgraduate courses in 'EO4SDGs', ‘Applied research skills in environment and society’,  ‘Research practice and project planning’, ‘Principles and Practices of Remote Sensing’ and undergraduate courses in 'Key Methods in Physical Geography'. 

Administrative Roles

Deputy Director for SENSE Centre for Doctoral Training 

Co-chair of the Inclusive Wealth Working Group of the ISPRS (International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing)

Steering Committee member for Belgian Science Policy funded project 

External Expert: World Health Organisation - selecting indicators to monitor the impact of extreme heat on Maternal, Newborn, Child Health 

Collaborative Activity

  • Affiliate of the Jameel Observatory for Food Security Early Action
  • International Livestock Research Institute
  • Member of the Data for Children Collaborative with UNICEF
  • Lupane State University and Bulawayo Municipal Government, Zimbabwe. 
  • Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems
  • Ecoinformatics and Biodiversity, Aarhus University, Denmark  - USES project
  • International Institute of Applied Systems Science, Austria - Using Remote Sensing for monitoring and evaluating international development projects
  • Southampton University
  • University of Florida/Columbia University, USA - USES project (analysing Millennium Villages Data)


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


Visiting Researcher , Novel Data Ecosystems for Sustainability, International Institute for Advanced Systems Analysis (IIASA), Austria

30 Sept 2001 → …


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


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