Faculty and Staff

Santiago Lopez

Assistant Professor

B.Eng. Geographical and Environmental Engineering, Escuela Politécnica del Ejército
M.A. Geography, Arizona State University
Ph. D. Geography and the Environment, University of Texas at Austin

Office: UW2-333
Phone: 425-352-3393
Email: cslopez@uw.edu
Mailing: Box 358530, 18115 Campus Way NE, Bothell, WA 98011-8246


In my teaching experiences to date, whenever possible I have attempted to teach key geographical concepts that are intended to stimulate quantitative and qualitative spatial thinking. In all of the classes and labs that I have taught, I have resolved not to focus my teaching efforts on particular software or tools. Students often tend to think that geotechniques classes are software-based technical guidelines; by contrast, I am convinced that students should be guided on how to think spatially to solve a variety of problems and that in so doing they become better analysts, problem solvers, and project managers rather than software experts. My classes usually involve a hands-on computer-based component which is oriented to put into practice the material covered during lectures. Although I enjoy working with students during lab sessions, I believe that students should put additional effort outside class time to solve spatial problems on their own. Nevertheless, it is clear to me that my assistance is necessary and I am willing to work with students individually to overcome any problem they may experience inside or outside class.

Recent Courses Taught

BIS 242 Environmental Geography
BIS 342 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
BIS 442 Advanced Geographic Information Systems


My research interests are wide ranging. However, the thread that runs through all of my research is its theoretical and empirical base in geographic information science (GISc) (i.e. the science behind geotechnologies such as geographic information systems, global positioning systems, remote sensing, and spatial statistics). My interest relies on how spatial and social theories can be merged and how spatial technologies can help to answer a variety of questions like: How are social and spatial theories and techniques used to improve our knowledge about the places we live in? Can we always rely on them to advance our understanding of societies and the environment? What conceptual formulations best represent the spatial and temporal dynamics we observe in natural and anthropogenic landscapes? How important is the spatial context for understanding social behavior and decision making? How are environmental policies affected by social and biophysical characterizations of the places we live in?

Selected Publications

2014. López, S. Modeling agricultural change through logistic regression and cellular automata: A case study on shifting cultivation. Journal of Geographic Information System, 6(1): 220-235.

2014. Stokes, D., Church, E., Cronkright, D., and López, S. Pictures of an Invasion: English Holly (Ilex aquifolium) in a Semi-natural Pacific Northwest Forest. Northwest Science, 88(2): 75-93.

2013. López, S., Beard, B, and Sierra, R. Landscape change in Western Amazonia. The Geographical Review, 103(1): 37-58.

2012. Postigo, J., Peralvo, M., López, S., Zapata-Caldas, E., Jarvis, A., Ramirez, J., Lau, C. Adaptation and Vulnerability of Andean Productive Systems. In: Andean Panorama on Climate Change: Vulnerability and Adaptation in the Tropical Andes, Cuesta F., Bustamante, M., Becerra, M.T., Postigo, J., Peralvo, M. (eds.). CONDESAN, SGCAN, Lima-Peru.pp. 147-177.

2011. López, S., and Sierra, R. A resource demand model of indigenous production: The Jivaroan cultivation systems of Western Amazonia. Journal of Agricultural Systems, 11(3): 246-257.

2010. Peralvo, M., Postigo, J., López, S. Adaptación en Sistemas Productivos Andinos a los efectos del Cambio Climático: revisión y síntesis del estado del conocimiento. Serie Panorama Andino sobre Cambio Climático. CONDESAN, SGCAN. Lima-Quito.

2010. López, S., Sierra, R., and Tirado, M. Tropical Deforestation in the Ecuadorian Chocó region: logging practices and spatial relationships. The Geographical Bulletin 51(1):3-22.

2010. López, S., and Sierra, R. Agricultural Change in the Pastaza River Basin: A Spatially Explicit Model of Native Amazonian Cultivation. Applied Geography 30: 355-369.

2008. López,  S. From the Household to the Community: A Resource Demand and Land-Use Model of Indigenous Production in Western Amazonia. Doctoral Dissertation, ProQuest - University of Texas at Austin.

Work in Progress

2015 (expected publication year). López, S., and López, MF. “The socio-ecological systems of southeastern Ecuador: Processes and patterns of land use change”. Book chapter on “Socio-Ecological perspectives on Global Changes in Latin America”. Young, K., and Postigo, J. (eds). The University of Texas at Austin.

2016 (expected publication year). López, S. and Stokes, D. Modeling the invasion of Holly (Ilex aquifolium): Spatial relationships and spread trajectories. Submitted to The Professional Geographer, a journal of the Association of American Geographers.

López, S.  Climate and land use changes in the Tropical Andes: Environmental monitoring and communal perceptions.  To be submitted to the journal of Mountain Research and Development