Robin Wilson

Research Fellow, Geography & Environment, University of Southampton


Satellite imaging; Geographic Information Systems; Air pollution; Open-source geographic software; Reproducible research; Software citation


I am currently a research fellow at the University of Southampton, where my main work is developing new methods to monitor air pollution (specifically PM2.5) from satellite data. My other research activities sit alongside this, either focusing on new methods for quantitatively processing satellite data to produce useful information, or contributing further to research on air pollution and its effects.  Alongside this, I am working with the Flowminder Foundation on the use of mobile phone data to understand human mobility, and I led their response to the Nepal earthquake.

My background is a mixture of geography and computing: I did a pre-university gap year writing software to control nuclear power stations (yes, really!), an undergraduate degree in Geography, followed by a PhD in Complex Systems Simulation & Geography.

All of my work is carried out computationally, and can involve processing data ranging from a tiny CSV file to a stack of many 20Gb satellite images. I write most of my code in Python, but will use whatever language is necessary for the job - and have written relatively-large code bases in R, C++ and the .NET framework.

I am active in open-source software development, and have a large number of repositories on Github. The most popular software tools I have developed are Py6S (a Python interface to a radiative transfer model used a lot in satellite imaging) and recipy (an automatic provenance framework for Python).

I have worked closely with the SSI on the development of `recipy` - it was originally developed at a Collaborations Workshop 'hack day' and later extended, with contributions from SSI staff. I was also the originator of the CITATION file idea which has been broadly accepted.

Online Presence

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