Rob Feick

Associate Professor
School of Planning (cross-appointed to Geography & Environmental Management)
University of Waterloo

Contact information

My research focuses broadly on using spatial information technology to assist decision making and public participation in land management and planning. My current research centres on Web 2.0 GIS tools that facilitate citizen involvement in planning through spatially referenced forms of community dialogue and volunteered geographic information (VGI), spatial decision aiding methods such as GIS-based multi-criteria analysis, and Web-based spatial data visualisation methods.


Haydn Lawrence - PhD candidate, Geography, (Colin Robertson co-advisor)


Haydn Lawrence is a PhD student at the University of Waterloo.  He received his Bachelor of Computer Science (Information Systems) from the University of New Brunswick in 2002 and later obtained his Advanced Diploma in GIS from the Centre of Geographic Sciences in 2011. 

He just completed his Master of Science in Geomatics at Wilfrid Laurier University.  He loves traveling and languages, dabbling in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and of course French as he is originally from New Brunswick in Canada.





Maju Sadagopan - MSc student, Geography


I graduated from the University of Waterloo's School of Planning with the GIS Diploma of Excellence and the Urban Design specialization. My graduate research interests lie in the use of GIS and spatial support systems in the field of planning. I am particularly interested in studying the possible use of emerging GeoDesign tools and visualization techniques to engage citizens in issues associated with land management and planning. Through my research I hope to touch on topics such as VGI, Web 2.0 and decision support systems.




Samantha Dunlop - MA student, Planning


Samantha is a Masters student in the Planning program at the University of Waterloo. She completed a Honours Bachelor of Arts in Geography (Geomatics option) at Wilfrid Laurier University under Colin Robertson's supervision in 2015.

Her current research interests include identifying the opportunities of using geosocial data to understand better the way humans interact and feel about city environments, and benefits of parks and green spaces.





Recent Graduates:

Jim Huebner - PhD, Planning, (Brent Hall co-advisor) (2018)

Jim's thesis research, "Organizational strategy, technology and public participation in municipal planning", draws upon his experience as a senior and chief executive in corporate management, project management and IT development.  His research examines how customer relationship management (CRM) systems and corporate strategy and quality assurance methods can be applied to public participation in local and regional governments.  He develops a model for exploring how Citizen Relationship Management systems (CiRMs) can enrich public engagement and participation at the local and regional scales and tests the model through extensive interviews with local government staff and elected officials.

Jim is currently working as Senior CRM Engineer, Independent Purchasing Cooperative, Miami, Florida.



Ashley Zhang - PhD, Geography (2018)

Ashley successfully defended her thesis, "Public participation in the Geoweb era: Geosocial media use in local government", in June 2018.  In her thesis research, she examined the potential for growing volumes of geotagged social media (e.g. Twitter, Instragram, etc.) to be to augment existing methods of citizen participation at the local government level.  She developed a "Smart Sidewalks" application and piloted it in Kitchener-Waterloo during the construction of a light rail transit line to examine how citizens could collaboratively monitor and report on dynamic urban conditons using geosocial media.  Prior to her doctoral research, she completed a Masters degree at the Univeristy of Georgia with a thesis focused on spatio-temporal changes in the socio-spatial structure of Beijing, China.

She currently has a post-doctoral position in the School of Architecture and Urban Planning, Nanjing University, China.  Her current research interests include the use of spatial information technology to investigate social media data, geovisual analytics for discovering human activity patterns and city dynamics, and the role of Web 2.0 and location-aware social media in improving the performance of smart cities.


Kenson Richards - MES, Planning (2017)

Kenson Richards has a Bachelors of Science Degrees in Agribusiness and Geography from the University of the West Indies Trinidad and Tobago and has been employed with the Ministry of Education in Grenada for the past fifteen years.   Through this experience, he developed a keen interest on school systems planning in the Caribbean context.  His thesis centres on opportunities to enable community participation in the school location planning process in Grenada, BWI.

Thesis: An Assessment of the School System Planning Process for Primary and Secondary Schools: The Case of Saint George Grenada



Jonathan van Dusen - H.BES student, Geomatics (2015)

I graduated from the Geomatics program at the University of Waterloo in 2016. My research interests relate to the usability of geographic applications in desktop and mobile contexts and I am passionate about usability, human–computer interaction, and geographic information. In my honours thesis, I investigated the usability of VGI creation using OpenStreetMap’s “iD” editor, specifically in terms of its workflows for humanitarian data creation.

Thesis: User-needs assessment & usability evaluation of OpenStreetMap “iD” editor for humanitarian use.
Current position: Higher education developer / analyst - Esri Canada


April Fang - MA, Planning (2015)

My Master’s research focuses on wind farm implementation and social acceptability in Ontario.  I developed and applied a GIS-based multi-criteria analysis approach to siting issue in order to assist decision makers to identify suitable locations for potential wind farms given physical and social constraints. 






Andrew Blakey - MSc, Geography (2013)

I completed my Bachelor’s degree in Geography at the University of Waterloo in 2010, where I specialized in GIS and remote sensing. My undergraduate thesis was on designing a web-GIS application for investigating green energy feasibility. My Master’s research expanded on this topic by developing solar resource datasets and a Web-GIS tool (SunSpot) for the public to investigate rooftop photovoltaic feasibility. 

When I’m not neck-deep in programming code, you may find me moderating Reddit Science, cheering for the Blue Jays or Leafs, or busy completing very old video games with my friends. I am currently employed as a GIS Developer at ClearPath Robotics.

Thesis: SunSpot: A Spatial Decision Support Web-Application for Exploring Urban Solar Energy Potential
Current Position: GIS Developer - ClearPath Robotics


Terri Cowan - MA, Planning (2013)

My undergraduate BSc thesis in Geomatics at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad focused on flood risk mapping for north-west Trinidad. 

My Masters research at Waterloo explored measures to help integrate VGI into planning processes as a form of public participation by addressing barriers such as VGI validation and visualisation by planners. This is realised through the conceptualisation, creation and testing of an interactive web 2.0 application.  In my spare time, I enjoy playing lawn tennis, ultimate frisbee and engaging in other outdoor sporting activities.  

Thesis: A framework for investigating VGI relevance in planning.
Current position: GIS Analyst - Metrolinx



Jan van der Weijst – MA (2012) Planning


Thesis: Farmers making sense out of a cartographic landscape.

Current position: Advisor on conflict management to German Ombudsman in Peru





Vivien Deparday – MSc (2011) Geography (UW) and Engineering (École Centrale de Lille)


Thesis: Enhancing Volunteered Geographical Information (VGI) Visualization with Open Source Web-Based Software.

Current position: Technical Lead - World Bank, Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery






Noel Dyer – MES (2011) Geography

Research paper: Going Green: Green Roof Potential at the City & Neighborhood Scale

John Taranu - MSc (2009) Geography

Thesis: Building Consensus using a Collaborative Spatial Multi-Criteria Analysis System.
Current position: Senior application developer, Cloud Sherpas

Samantha Gibbon - MES (2008) Geography

An Evaluative Framework for the Review of the Rural Mixed Use/Agricultural Cluster Land Use Policy: Township of Wellesley

Anika Grant - MA (2007) Geography

Thesis: Fighting Fire with Fire: Investigating Prescribed Burns for Fuel and Fire Management in Quetico Provincial Park, Ontario.
Current position: Ecology Lab Manager, Faculty of Environment, University of Waterloo