Trisalyn Nelson

Director and Foundation Professor
Faculty w/Admin Appointment
TEMPE Campus


Trisalyn Nelson is a Foundation Professor and director of the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Her research develops and uses spatial and spatial-temporal analyses to address applied questions in a wide range of fields from ecology to health. Currently, her research focuses on two areas: wildlife movement and active transportation. Her research team is developing new GIScience approaches to quantifying movement, particularly from wildlife telemetry data, and applying methods to better understand conservation strategies for grizzly bears. Most recently, Nelson has led the creation of, a web-map and App to gather volunteered geographic information on cycling collisions and near misses. Nelson's research team uses and other crowdsourced data to quantify and monitor patterns of urban cycling safety and ridership.

Professor Nelson enjoys working collaboratively and has worked with more than 100 co-authors on more than 110 publications. She has secured $13.2 million research dollars ($9.3 million jointly and $3.9 solely) and been the primary supervisor of 24 graduate students. She is particularly energized by working with industry partners to develop and solve applied research questions. She has partnered with software companies, mapping agencies, urban planning consultants, police departments, and insurance agencies. She also works with cities and national governments on issues ranging from safe cycling to forest management. 

Professor Nelson was at the University of Victoria in Geography from 2005 to 2016. There she founded and directed the Spatial Pattern Analysis and Research (SPAR) Lab, was director of the Geomatics Program, and held the Lansdowne Research Chair in Spatial Sciences.


  • Ph.D. Geography and GIS, Wilfrid Laurier University
  • M.S. Geography, University of Victoria
  • B.S. Geography, University of Victoria

Research Interests

The world is changing faster than ever and many pressing questions require characterization of change over space and through time. New spatial technologies (e.g., satellites, GPS, and Google Maps) are providing opportunities to investigate spatial-temporal processes, but new data science methods are required to convert the growing amount of data into knowledge. Through her research, Trisalyn Nelson develops and applies spatial and spatial-temporal analyses to address applied questions in ecology, transportation, and health. She enjoys a wide range of collaborative and transdisciplinary research, but her current work emphasizes wildlife movement and active transportation.

Nelson's wildlife movement research has been fueled by collaborators questions about how grizzly bears survival and reproduction is impacted by landscape. Together with her students, Nelson has developed methods that can be applied to telemetry data sets to quantify patterns of movement and the impacts of landscape disturbance on movement. The methods developed have application for other wildlife research and the team is increasingly interested in extending methods to investigate human mobility.

Active Transportation is a newer area of research and cycling safety has quickly become a passion that intersects Nelson's professional interest in spatial data with her personal interest in cycling. In 2014, her research team developed a citizen science web-mapping tool to crowdsource data on cycling collisions and near misses. Citizens have mapped cycling incidents on from over 35 countries. Data are being used for research and planning that can help make cycling safer. From the project came a research emphasis on transforming "big" data from personal fitness apps (i.e., Strava) into tools that can be used to address gaps in planning data, such as mapping ridership for exposure.


Here are publications for the last several years:

Konzack, M., McKetterick, T., Ophelders, T., Buchin, M., Giuggioli, L., Long, J., Nelson, T., Westenberg, M.A., and Buchin, K. (2016). Visual analytics of delays and interaction in movement data. International Journal of Geographical Information Science.

Trant, A.J., Nijland, W., Hoffman, K.M., Mathews, D.L., McLearen, D., Nelson, T.A., Strazomski, B.M. (2016). Intertidal resource use over millennia enhances forest productivityNature Communication. 7:12491 doi:10.1038/ncomms12491.

Branion-Calles, M.C., Nelson, T.A., and Martin, G. (2016). Adjusting local alcohol consumption data for influence of tourists. Journal of Substance Use. DOI: 10.3109/14659891.2016.1140235.

Jestico, B., Nelson, T.A., and Winters, M. (2016). Mapping ridership with crowdsourced cycling data.  Journal of Transport Geography. 52: 90-97 doi:10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2016.03.006

Kite, R., Nelson, T.A., Stenhouse, G., and Darimont, C. (2016). A movement-driven approach to quantifying grizzly bear (Ursus arctos) near-road movement patterns in west-central Alberta, Canada. Biological Conservation. 195: 24-32. doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2015.12.020.

Perez, L., Nelson, T.A., Coops, N.C., Fontana F., and Drever C.R. (2016). Characterization of spatial relationships between three remotely sensed indirect indicators of biodiversity and climate: a 21 years’ data series review across the Canadian boreal forest. International Journal of Digital Earth. doi:10.1080/17538947.2015.1116623

Powers, R.P., Coops, N.C., Nelson, T.A. and Wulder, M.A. (2016). Evaluating natural reserve design efficacy in the Canadian Boreal forest using time series AVHRR data. Canadian Journal of Remote Sensing. Vol. 42, No. 3, pp. x-x. doiI:

Thompson, S.D., Nelson, T.A., Giesbrecht, I., Frazer, G., and Saunders, S.C. (2016). Data-driven regionalization of forested and non-forested ecosystems in coastal British Columbia with LiDAR and RapidEye imagery. Applied Geography 69: 35-50. doi:10.1016/j.apgeog.2016.02.002

Andrew, M.E., Wulder, M.A., Nelson, T.A., and Coops, N.C. (2015). Spatial data, analysis approaches, and information needs for spatial ecosystem service assessments: A review. GIScience & Remote Sensing. 52(3): 344–373.

Branion-Calles, M.C., Nelson, T.A., and Henderson, S.B. (2015). A geospatial approach to the prediction of indoor radon vulnerability in British Columbia, Canada. Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology. Doi: 10.1038/jes.2015.20

Branion-Calles, M.C., Nelson, T.A., and Henderson, S.B. (2015). Evaluation of different radon guideline values based on characterization of ecological risk and visualization of lung cancer mortality trends in British Columbia, Canada. BMC Public Health 15:1144. DOI: 10.1186/s12889-015-2438-2

Brooks, R., Nelson, T.A., Amolins, K., and Hall, G.B. (2015). Semi-automated building footprint extraction from orthophotos. Geomatica. 69(2): 231–244.

Fitterer, J. and Nelson, T.A. (2015). A systematic review of the statistical methods used to study alcohol-attributable crime. PLOS One. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0139344. Sept 29, 2015.

Fitterer, J., Nelson, T.A., and Nathoo, F.S. (2015). Predictive crime mapping. Police Practice and Research. 16(2): 121–135. DOI:10.1080/15614263.2014.972618.

Fitterer, J.L., Nelson, T.A., and Stockwell, T. (2015). A review of existing studies reporting the negative effects of alcohol access and positive effects of alcohol control policies on interpersonal violence. Frontiers in Public Health. 16. DOI 10.3389/fpubh.2015.00253

Holmes, K.R., Coops, N.C., Nelson, T.A., Fontana, F., and Wulder, M.A. (2015) Indicators of vegetation productivity under a changing climate in British Columbia, Canada. Applied Geography. 56: 135–144.

Lawrence, H., Robertson, C., Feick, R. and Nelson, T.A. (2015). Identifying optimal study areas and spatial aggregation units for point-based VGI from multiple sources. Advances in Spatial Data Handling and Analyis. Select Papers from the 16th Symposium on Spatial Data Handling. F.Harvey & Y. Leung, eds. Springer International Publishing. Heidelberg. pp: 65–84.

Long, J.A., Nelson, T.A. (2015) Home range and habitat analysis using dynamic time geography. Journal of Wildlife Management. 79(3):481–490. DOI: 10.1002/jwmg.845

Long, J.A., Webb, S.L., Nelson, T.A., and Gee, K.L. (2015). Mapping areas of spatial-temporal overlap from wildlife tracking data. Movement Ecology. 3:38. doi:10.1186/s40462-015-0064-3

Nelson, T.A. (2015). Book Review of Statistical Analysis of Spatial and Spatio-Temporal Point Patterns by P.J. Diggle. International Journal of Geographical Information Science. 29(4): 690-691.

Nelson, T.A., Denouden, T., Jestico, B., Laberee, K., and Winters, M. (2015). a global tool for collision and near miss mapping. Frontiers in Public Health.doi:10.3389/fpubh.00053.

Nelson, T.A., Long, J.A., Laberee, K., and Stewart, B.P. (2015). A time geographic approach for delineating areas of sustained wildlife use. Annals of GIS. 21(1): 81–90.

Perez, L., Nelson, T.A., Bourbonnais, M., and Ostry, A. (2015). Modelling the Potential Impact of Climate Change on Agricultural Production in the Province of British Columbia. Energy and Environment Research. 5(1): 45–62. DOI:10.5539/eer.v5n1p49-62

Sorensen, A.A., Stenhouse, G.B., Bourbonnais, M.L., and Nelson, T.A. (2015). Effects of habitat quality and anthropogenic disturbance on grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) home range fidelity. Canadian Journal of Zoology. 93(11): 857-865. doi: 10.1139/cjz-2015-0095.

Suarez, C., Nelson, T.A., and Laberee, K. (2015). Cosine: A tool for constraining spatial neighbourhoods in marine environments. Geomatica. 69(1): 95–111.

Thompson, S.D., Nelson, T.A., White, J.C., and Wulder, M.A. (2015). Mapping dominant tree species over large forested areas using Landsat best-available-pixel image composites. Canadian Journal of Remote Sensing. 41(3): 203-218.

Andrew, M.E., Wulder, M., and Nelson, T.A. (2014). Potential contributions of remote sensing to ecosystem service assessments. Progress in Physical Geography. 38(3): 328–352. doi:10.1177/0309133314528942.

Bourbonnais, M.L., Nelson, T.A., and Wulder, M.A. (2014) Geographic analysis of the impacts of mountain pine beetle infestation on forest fire ignition. The Canadian Geographer. 58(2): 188–202. DOI: 10.1111/j.1541-0064.2013.12057.x

Bourbonnais, M.L., Nelson, T.A., Cattet, M.R.L., Darimont, C.T., Stenhouse, G.B., and Janz, D.M. (2014). Environmental factors and habitat use influence body condition of individuals in a species at risk, the grizzly bear. Conservation Physiology. Doi: 10.1093/conphys/cou043

Coops, N.C., Fontana, F., Harvey, G., Nelson, T.A., and Wulder, M.A (2014). Monitoring national-scale indirect indicators of biodiversity using a long time-series of remotely sensed imagery. Canadian Journal of Remote Sensing. 40(3): 179–191.

Laberee, K., Stewart, B.P., Nelson, T.A., McKay, T, and Stenhouse, G.B. (2014). Oil and gas infrastructure and the spatial pattern of grizzly bear habitat selection in Alberta, Canada. The Canadian Geographer. 58(1): 79–94. DOI: 10.1111/cag.12066

Long, J.A., Nelson, T.A., and Nathoo, F.S. (2014). Towards a kinetic-based probabilistic time geography. International Journal of Geographical Information Science. 28(5): 855–874.

Long, J.A., Nelson, T.A., Webb, S.L., and Gee, K.L. (2014b). A critical examination of indices of dynamic interaction for wildlife telemetry studies. Journal of Animal Ecology. 83(5): 1216-1233. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2656.12198.

Nelson, T.A., Coops, N.C., Wulder, M.A., Perez, L., Fitterer, J., Powers, R., and Fontana, F. (2014). Predicting climate change impacts to the Canadian boreal forest. Diversity 6: 133–157.

Rickbeil, G.M., Coops, N.C., Drever, M.C., and Nelson, T.A. (2014). Assessing coastal species distribution models through the integration of terrestrial, oceanic and atmospheric data. Journal of Biogeography. 41(8): 1614–1625. doi/10.1111/jbi.12340/abstract

Rickbeil, G., Coops, N.C., Andrew, M.E., Bolton, D.K., Mahoney, N., and Nelson, T.A., (2014) Assessing conservation regionalization schemes: Employing a beta diversity metric to test the environmental surrogacy approach. Diversity and Distributions. 20: 503–514.

Robertson, C., and Nelson, T.A. (2014). An overview of spatial analysis of emerging infectious diseases. The Professional Geographer. 66(4): 579-588. DOI: 10.1080/00330124.2014.907702

Robertson, C., Long, J.A., Nathoo, F.S., Nelson, T.A., and Plouffe, C.C.F. (2014). Assessing quality of spatial models using the structural similarity index and posterior predictive checks. Geographical Analysis. 46(1): 53–74.

White, C.F.H., Coops, N.C., Nijland, W., Hilker, T., Nelson, T.A., Wulder, M.A., Nielsen, S.E., Stenhouse, G. (2014) Characterizing a decade of disturbance events using Landsat and MODIS satellite imagery in western Alberta, Canada for grizzly bear management. Canadian Journal of Remote Sensing. 40(5): 336–  


Summer 2018
Course Number Course Title
GPH 595 Continuing Registration
GIS 684 Internship
GPH 795 Continuing Registration
Spring 2018
Course Number Course Title
GPH 591 Seminar
GCU 591 Seminar
GIS 591 Seminar
PUP 591 Seminar
GPH 595 Continuing Registration
GIS 595 Continuing Registration
GIS 692 Research
GCU 795 Continuing Registration
GPH 795 Continuing Registration
Fall 2017
Course Number Course Title
GPH 595 Continuing Registration
GPH 695 Continuing Registration
GPH 795 Continuing Registration
GCU 795 Continuing Registration
Summer 2017
Course Number Course Title
GPH 595 Continuing Registration
GPH 795 Continuing Registration
Spring 2017
Course Number Course Title
GCU 591 Seminar
PUP 591 Seminar
GPH 591 Seminar
GIS 591 Seminar
PUP 595 Continuing Registration
GPH 595 Continuing Registration
GPH 795 Continuing Registration
Fall 2016
Course Number Course Title
PUP 595 Continuing Registration
GPH 795 Continuing Registration
GCU 795 Continuing Registration


Here are selected recently-awarded grants:

2016-2018: Public Health Agency of Canada, BikeMaps: A citizen web-mapping surveillance tool for safe and accessible bicycling and healthy living promotion. Co-Applicant  $929,738.

2016-2018: NSERC CRD, Grizzly-PAW: Grizzly Population Assessment in the YelloWhead, Co-Applicant, $1.313,337.

2016: Capital Regional District (CRD) Healthy Living Promotion. Sole Investigator,  $5,000

2016: NSERC Engage. Spatial Analysis for Cycling Safety Surveillance. Industry Partner: Urban Systems. Sole Investigator, $25,000.

2015-2016: University of Victoria, Lansdowne Research Chair in Spatial Science, Sole Investigator.

2015: NSERC Engage. Quantifying the safety of cycling infrastructure in Metro Vancouver. Sole Investigator. Industry Partner: Bunt and Associates. $25,000.

2015: Mitacs sponsored by CAA. App Development. Sole Investigator, $15,000.

2014: Hakai Institute, Tula Foundation. Spatial mapping and regionalization of Hakai Ecosystems. Sole investigator, $8,000.

2014-2015: Capital Regional District (CRD) Active Transportation Special Events Funding. Citizen Web-Mapping of Bike Accidents and Near Misses. Sole Investigator.  $8,000.

2014-2017: Hakai Institute, Tula Foundation. Spatial Analysis of 100 Islands Biogeography. $1.2 million (Co-applicant).

2014: NSERC Engage. Web Mapping of Bike Accidents, Sole Investigator. Industry Partner: Canadian Automobile Association, Grant #EGP 468640-14, $25,000.

2014: NSERC Engage. Foundry Spatial Air Analytics, Sole Investigator. Industry Partner: Foundry Spatial Ltd, Grant # EGP 468443-14, $25,000.