Dr. Nick Hedley  [email]

Associate Professor, Geovisualization & Geospatial Interface Research, SFU Geography [link]

Dr. Nick Hedley is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography at Simon Fraser University. Dr. Hedley has been researching geovisualization and interfaces for over 14 years, and virtual environments / mixed reality for a decade or so. He simultaneously works in the areas of new interface technology design, empirical human interface use evaluation, and the development of new theories about how humans engage information and each other through these technologies. His current research emphasis is on geospatial tangible augmented reality (GeoSTAR), mobile geospatial augmented reality, and serious games applied to real geographic problems.

Dr. Hedley designs and develops new interfaces to visualize and interact with three-dimensional geospatial data, aiming to maximize the transparency of user interfaces. His ongoing research aims to develop a more sophisticated understanding of how geographic visualization technologies influence practical, conceptual and abstract spatial knowledge acquisition, and to develop cutting-edge visualization technologies to advance exploratory, analytical and presentation-based geographic visualization. He has designed and developed visualization interfaces in a variety of training/education/communication contexts, including risk mitigation, collaborative spatial decision-making, data exploration, complex environmental systems, human exposure to environmental hazards, dynamic oceanographic processes, uncertainty in remotely sensed data, hydrogeology, avalanche hazards, and tsunami ssimulation.

Dr. Hedley's academic research projects have been funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Energy, the US National Research Center for Statistics and the Environment, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), the Canadian Water Network (CWN), Geomatics for Informed Decisions (GEOIDE).

In addition to academic research, Dr. Hedley has consulted for numerous major organizations in broadcasting, public education and the movie industry. These include the British Broadcasting Corporation (UK), Broken Hill Proprietary (Australia) and for several well-known science museums, including the Museum of Science (Boston, USA). He was the designer/creator of the augmented reality exhibit seen in the popular museum exhibit Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination - which toured North America between 2005-2008, and internationally between 2009 and 2012.


Sonja Aagesen (PhD Candidate)

Sonja's research interests lie at the intersection of archeological research, spatial analysis and geovisualization. Following up on successful Masters research, Sonja aims to explore the role of 3D geovisualization and geospatial interface research might support powerful new ways to deliver analytical archaeological visualizations in non-linear, user-driven interface environments. Sonja is the holder of a prestigious four-year SSHRC PhD research grant.

Chris Lonergan (MSc Student; BSc Fall 2011)

Olympia Koziatek (MSc Student; BSc Summer 2013)

Olympia is focusing her spatial information, geovisualization and spatial interface skills on interactive geovisual analytical interfaces for marine debris modelling, analysis and geovisualization. She is pursuing new forms of 3D spatial representation and analysis to characterize nearshore bathymetric environments, kelp forests, and how we might generate local debris arrival simulations using ocean basin scale circulation models.

Nick Benoy (MSc Student; BSc Summer 2013)

Interested in geovisualization and interfaces, Nick is focusing his Masters research towards 3D urban analysis - to enable all citizens to perceive environmental conditions in urban environments, and the implications of proposed urban development futures. 

SHOULD YOUR NAME BE HERE?? Contact Dr. Nick Hedley at to discuss current opportunities!


Alex Chen (BSc anticipated Summer 2014)

Alex has studied with Dr. Hedley for a couple of years. In 2013, as a result of the 3D geovisualization and spatial interface skills he acquired in Dr. Hedley's GEOG 356 and GEOG 457 courses,  he was approached to work on a new sea level rise project at the University of PEI's (UPEI) Climate Lab. This led to a significant new collaboration between Dr. Adam Fenech (Director, UPEI Climate Lab) and Dr. Hedley (DIrector, SIRL), in which Alex and a UPEI colleague Andrew Doiron developed CLIVE an interactive Coastal Impact Visualization Environment - which visualizes the impacts of various climate change futures and coastal erosion model for the entire province of PEI.  


Matt Kurowski (MSc graduate)

Matt completed a MSc in tsunami visualization research. His research (Exploring the Relationship Between Geovisualization Interface Characteristics and Mental Models of Tsunami Hazards) has surveyed existing methods to mitigate risk by educating citizens about tsunami hazards. He is developing new visualization methods and interface technologies as potential solutions to update and improve Provincial capabilities to mitigate tsunami risks through public education. After completing his MSc, Matt was hired by FP Innovations to apply his spatial information and visualization skills in new an exciting ways as a research and development specialist. Nice!

Britta Ricker (Research Assistant)

Britta's research in Web 2.0, the semantic web, spatial data infrastructures and ubiquitous gaming, has taken her to developing countries such as Guatemala and Barbados. Through her travels, she has established an understanding of the benefits of the geospatial web for sustainable development. She is interested in the use of the GeoWeb and location-aware devices for environmental learning. After a period at SIRL exporing mobile devices and VGI, she is now pursuing research in Health GIS.

Ranae Kowalczuk (MSc / March 2009)

Ranae has spent the past few years researching the way in which avalanche hazards (in particular, terrain traps) are communicated to winter recreationists. Specifically, there has been an increase in the number of organizations that have adopted interactive, visual interfaces for avalanche education. Her research has explored how various visual and interactive interface elements of such tools may not in fact improve user learning quite the way we might have thought - an important consideration to guide effective future avalanche education. After successfully completing a PDP in teaching, she is now a particularly awesome teacher in Pittsburgh USA!

Cyrille Medard de Chardon (MSc / April 2009)

Cyrille has spent the past couple of years designing and implementing a set of innovative new visual interfaces aimed at improving stakeholder understanding of hydrogeological concepts in the Okanagan Valley, in British Columbia. A talented programmer, Cyrille developed no less than 13 variations of 3 main types of interface for his MSc. These included a new interactive map of the US EPA's DRASTIC model, and a user-driven interactive version of a well-known water use education poster being used in Okanagan communities. The tour de force of Cyrille's MSc work was a new prototype 3D cellular automata tool that he developed to interactively allow users to see the volumetric process of aquifer displacement and recharge in response to surface events. Cyrille is now a professional Geographic Information System (GIS) analyst and research guru at Fracturmedia. Very cool!


Olympia Koziatek (Graduated BSc Summer 2013)

Olympia is particularly interested in combining her spatial information, geovisualization and spatial interface skills to to produce interactive geovisual analytical interfaces for marine debris. She worked on a very exciting 3D marine debris arrival/accumulation 'sandbox' with ocean dynamics, and differential debris buoyancy. This research was presented at CoastGIS 2013.

Nick Benoy (Graduated BSc Summer 2013)

Interested in geovisualization and interfaces, Nick has spent some time working for Environment Canada. He then joined us to work on geovisualization of environmental problems in 3D bathymetric environments. Cool!

Spencer Behn (Graduated Summer 2011)

Calvin Chan (Graduated 2012)

Chris Lonergan  (Graduated BSc 2012)

Helge Aasen

Helge spent a year at SFU Geography on exchange from his home university in Germany. While here at SFU he was deeply involved in courses and research in hydrology and geovisualization, respectively. This led to him pursuing an bold new project to create an interactive geovisualization interface for structural and temporal visual analytics of ephemeral hydrological events - in collaboration with SIRL director Nick Hedley, and Dr. Ilja Tromp van Meerveld. Helge presented the this project at an international conference in Sofia, Bulgaria in 2010. Helge is currently at Universitat Koln.

Ana Brandusescu

Ana is a skilled social geographic scholar, whose interests include exploring the limitations of the GeoWeb and how people who are marginalized in the real world are also being marginalized in the virtual geographies of the GeoWeb. Ana worked on a project with Nick Hedley to develop a new 3D Google Earth mashup of the slums of Mumbai (and an equivalent social-theoretical approach). Following successful research with SIRL director Nick Hedley, Ana has been offered the opportunity to pursue a Masters degree in Geography at McGill University in Montreal. Congrats Ana!

Stefan Lorimer (BA / June 2006)

Stefan Lorimer graduated from Simon Fraser University with a degree in Geography, specializing in geographic information science and geographic visualization. His research spanned sustainable and regional development to developing the first 3D Google Earth visualizations of SFU. While at SFU, Stefan was a research associate of SIRL - helping test new GeoSTAR prototypes. Stefan is now the Technology and Marketing Director at PLAN Institute, where he develops social technology solutions using platforms such as Drupal to improve inter-communication between partner organizations.

Andrea Frustaci (BA / June 2006)

Andrea Frustaci graduated from Simon Fraser University with a degree in Geography, specializing in geographic information science. While at SFU, she was a research associate of SIRL, helping to test GeoSTAR prototypes. Andrea is now a GIS Technician for Teck Cominco. She has also represented Canada as a member of the Canadian National Indoor Volleyball team.


Professor Fran├žois Golay    [link]

In Summer 2006, we were very fortunate to have Prof. Francois Golay from the Swiss Federal Institute of technology (EPFL) spend some time with us to explore new ideas in creative spatial decision-making interfaces. He also gave an excellent  research seminar to SFU grad students. Dr. Golay directs a large group of GIS grad student and staff researchers at the LaSIG lab at EPFL, and specializes in PPGIS and decision-making systems.