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Doug Leasure awarded 2021 Breheny Prize

Congratulations to Dr Douglas Leasure, Senior Data Scientist at the Centre, and his former colleagues at WorldPop who recently won the 2021 Breheny Prize.

This annual SAGE journal prize, awarded in recognition of Michael Breheny, is given to the most innovative paper in ‘Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science’.


The 2021 Breheny Prize was awarded to Doug and fellow WorldPop researchers for their paper on Classifying settlement types from multi-scale spatial patterns of building footprints.


With urban populations continuing to grow in size, remote sensing techniques are becoming ever more instrumental in monitoring urbanisation and changes in settlement patterns.


The winning paper, which has been downloaded over 6,800 times, outlines an approach to classify settlement types using remote sensing techniques that map urban changes.

The technique takes advantage of very high resolution imagery and advances in computational power to monitor unrbanisation changes, particularly in low and middle income countries that tend to lack this information.


Before joining the Centre in 2021, Doug led the Spatial Statistical Population Modelling team at WorldPop who developed methods for small area population estimation in the absence of a national census. Doug is now Visiting Fellow in the University of Southampton’s School of Geography and Environmental Science where WorldPop is based.


Doug and the Centre continue to collaborate with WorldPop on research that monitors population changes including forthcoming papers on remote sensing in difficult-to-access regions of Colombia and using social media activity to monitor population displacement in Ukraine.


Following the announcement, Doug said ‘’It’s a pleasure to have received this award alongside former colleagues at WorldPop and I’m delighted to continue collaborations on this important topic at the Centre.’’


Well done to Doug, Warren Jochem, Oliver Pannell, Heather Chamberlain, Patricia Jones and Andrew Tatem for winning the award!

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