Dan Brown, Ph.D.


Ph.D. Geography, 1992, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

M.A. Geography, 1989, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

B.A. Geoenvironmental Studies, 1987, Shippensburg University

Research interests focus on land use change and its effects on ecosystems and on human vulnerability. This work connects a computer-based simulation (e.g., agent-based modeling) of land-use-change processes with GIS and remote sensing based data on historical patterns of landscape change and social surveys. We are working to couple these models with GIS-based data and other models to evaluate consequences of change. We are also working to understand the ways in which land-use decisions are made. Collaborative research investigate the effects of spatial and social neighborhoods on the physical and social risks on human health.

Though most of my earlier work has been in the US, my work is becoming increasingly international, with projects in China, Africa, and India.

Research on land-cover and land-use change is funded by the NASA Land-Cover Land-Use Change Program and by programs at the National Science Foundation on Human and Social Dynamics (HSD) and the Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems (CNH) and conducted in collaboration with colleagues in SNRE and in the Center for the Study of Complex Systems. Research on spatial aspects of public health is conducted in collaboration with colleagues in the School of Public Health and funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Teaching Interests

Teaching on conceptual and practical aspects of geographic information system (GIS), spatial analysis and modeling applied to ecological and environmental questions, especially landscape ecology. Additional teaching on the role of land use in global change.

Current/Recent Teaching

  • Principles of GIS
  • GIS and Landscape Modeling
  • Land Use and Global Change

Selected Recent Publications

  • Sun, S., Parker, D.C., Huang, Q., Filatova, T., Robinson, D.T., Riolo, R.L., Hutchins, M., and Brown, D.G.  2014.Market impacts on land-use change: An agent-based experiment. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 104(3): 460-484. doi:10.1080/00045608.2014.892338
  • Magliocca, N.R., Brown, D.G., and Ellis, E.C. 2014. Cross-site comparison of land-use decision-making across land system with a virtual agent-based laboratory. PLoS One., 9(1):e86179.  doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0086179
  • Brown, D.G., Agrawal, A., Sass, D.A., Wang, J., Hua, J., Xie, Y. 2013. Social responses to climate risks and opportunities across national and ecological boundaries: Changing household strategies on the Mongolian Plateau.Environmental Research Letters, 8: 045011. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/8/4/045011
  • Brown, D.G., Verburg, P.H., Pontius, R.G., and Lange, M.D.  2013. Opportunities to improve impact, integration, and evaluation of land change models.  Current Opinion on Environmental Sustainability, 5(5):452-457. doi:10.1016/j.cosust.2013.07.012
  • Magliocca, N.R., Brown, D.G. Ellis, E.C., 2013. Interactions between market-driven livelihood transitions and induced agricultural intensification. PLoS One. 8(9): e73241. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0073241
  • Wang, J., Brown, D.G., and Agrawal, A. 2013. Climate adaptation, local institutions, and rural livelihoods: A comparative study of herder communities in Mongolia and Inner Mongolia, China. Global Environmental Change, 23(6): 1673-1683. doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2013.08.014
  • Wang, J. Brown, D.G., and Chen, J. 2013. Drivers of the dynamics in net primary productivity across agro-ecological zone on the Mongolian Plateau. Landscape Ecology, 28(4):725-739. doi:10.1007/s10980-013-9865-1
  • Robinson, D.T., Sun, S., Hutchins, M., Riolo, R.L., Brown, D.G., Parker, D.C., Filatova, T., Currie, W.S., and Kiger, S.  2013.   Effects of land markets and land management on ecosystem function: A framework for modelling exurban land change. Environmental Modelling and Software, 45:129-140 doi:10.1016/j.envsoft.2012.06.016
  • Sylvester, K.M., Brown, D.G., Deane, G., and Kornak, R. 2013.  and transitions in the American Plains: Multilevel modeling of drivers of grassland conversion (1950 to 2000). Agriculture Ecosystems and Environment, 168: 7-15. doi:10.1016/j.agee.2013.01.014
  • Agrawal, A., Brown, D.G., Rao, G., Riolo, R.L..,Robinson, D.T., Bommarito, M. 2013. Interaction between organizations and networks in common-pool resource governance.  Environmental Science and Policy, 25: 138-146. doi:10.1016/j.envsci.2012.08.004
  • Zhao, T., Brown, D.G., Fang, H., Theobald, D.M., Liu, T., Zhang, T., 2012. Vegetation productivity consequences of human settlement growth in the Eastern United States. Landscape Ecology, 27(8): 1149-1165. doi:10.1007/s10980-012-9766-8
  • Cheong, S., Brown, D.G., Lopez-Carr, D., and Kok, K. 2012. Mixed methods in land-change research: Towards integration. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 37(1):8-12. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2011.00482.x
  • An, L., Brown, D.G., Nassauer, J.I., and Low, B. 2011. Variations in development of exurban residential landscapes: Timing, location, and driving forces.Journal of Land Use Science, 6(1): 13-32. doi: 10.1080/1747423X.2010.500686
  • Smajgl, A., Brown, D.G., Valbuena, D., and Huigen, M.G.A.  2011.Empirical characterisation of agent behaviours in socio-ecological systems.  Environmental Modelling and Software, 26(7):837-844. doi:10.1016/j.envsoft.2011.02.011
  • Churkina, G., Brown, D.G., and Keoleian, G.  2010. Carbon stored in human settlements: Conterminous US.  Global Change Biology, 16: 135-143.    
  • Zellner, M.L., Page, S.E., Rand, W., Brown, D.G., Robinson, D.T., Nassauer, J., and Low, B. 2009. The emergence of zoning policy games in exurban jurisdictions: Informing collective action theory. Land Use Policy, 26(2): 256-367.
  • Jiang, L., Bergen, K.M., Brown, D.G., Zhao, T., Tian, Q., and Qi, S., 2008. Land-cover change and vulnerability to flooding near Poyang Lake, Jiangxi Province, China. Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing, 74(6): 775-786.
  • Brown, D.G., Robinson, D.T., An, L., Nassauer, J.I., Zellner, M., Rand, W., Riolo, R., Page, S.E., and Low, B. 2008. Exurbia from the bottom up: Confronting empirical challenges to characterizing complex systems. GeoForum, 39(2): 805-818.
  • Robinson, D.T., Brown, D.G., Parker, D.C., Schreinemachers, P., Janssen, M.A., Huigen, M., Wittmer, H., Gotts, N., Promburom, P. Irwin, E., Berger, T., Gatzweiler, F., and Barnaud, C. 2007. Comparison of empirical methods for building agent-based models of land and resource use. Journal of Land Use Science, 2(1): 31-55.
  • Brown, D.G., Johnson, K.M., Loveland, T.R., and Theobald, D.M. 2005. Rural land use change in the conterminous U.S., 1950-2000. Ecological Applications, 15(6): 1851–1863.
  • Brown, D.G., Riolo, R., Robinson, D.T., North, M., and Rand, W. 2005. Spatial process and data models: Toward integration of agent-based models and GIS. Journal of Geographical Systems, 7(1): 25-47.
  • Brown, D.G., Page, S.E., Riolo, R.L., Zellner, M., and Rand, W. 2005. Path dependence and the validation of agent-based spatial models of land-use. International Journal of Geographical Information Science, 19(2): 153-174.