Prof. Alexander Klippel was appointed chair of the Laboratory of Geo-information Science and Remote Sensing by the Executive Board of Wageningen University & Research on 1 July 2021.
This chair group aims to improve spatial competences for a sustainable world through research and education. Geo-information has become a societal commodity. Moreover, most data used in any research have a geo-spatial component to them. Prof. Klippel: “Geo-information is not limited to environmental research. Whether your research concerns biodiversity, unemployment or any other subject, your data will most likely be linked to a location somewhere on earth. Our group specialises in processing and working with such spatial data, and how to make predictions in a spatial context. This adds to the general movement of data science, and can support decision-making and policy-making in many disciplines.”
Since his appointment in the summer, Prof. Klippel has already seen many inspiring developments. For example, the chair group’s close linkages to the Wageningen Data Competence Center, which supports developments in the field of (big) data and data science. The chair group also works together with the WANDER-lab in using cutting-edge visualisation techniques, which turn intangible data into interactive experiences. Prof. Klippel: “Spatial data are usually visualised in maps, charts, graphs, and so on. But now we can visualise 3D data through a 3D medium such as VR, which we haven’t been able to do before on this scale. It also requires learning how to best integrate these tools into the portfolio of methods that we already have to understand our environments.”
Visualisation and geoinformatics
Prof. Klippel was born in Northern Germany, just two hours from Wageningen. He received a Master's degree in physical geography from the University of Trier, Germany, but focused early on in his career on visualisation (cartography) and geoinformatics. He developed a deep interest in human communication, behaviour, and decision-making in their spatial environments. For his PhD studies, he joined a transdisciplinary graduate programme and a German science foundation priority programme on spatial cognition in Hamburg. Following his supervisor, Prof. Christian Freksa, he received his PhD in Informatics and Mathematics from the University of Bremen, Germany.
Prof. Klippel worked as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information at the University of Melbourne. He also spent time at the Geography Department and Cognitive Science Emphasis at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Before joining Wageningen University & Research, he was a professor at the Pennsylvania State University (PSU), Department of Geography, an affiliated professor in Information Science and Technology, and a co-hire at PSU's Institute for Computational and Data Science (ICDS). He led Penn State's research efforts in immersive technologies and became the inaugural Director of Penn State's Center for Immersive Experiences, a signature strategic planning initiative involving 12 colleges and ICDS.