Santiago Lopez

Associate Professor

Santiago Lopez

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

Adjunct Associate Professor
Department of Geography, UW Seattle

Office: UW2-333
Phone: 425-352-3393
Mailing Box: 358530, 18115 Campus Way NE, Bothell, WA 98011-8246


I use advances in my ongoing research as stepping stones for introducing students to new research ideas and approaches to geographical sciences. I put emphasis on active learning through lab and outdoor activities, and hands-on activities. I am convinced that active learning in the context of quantitative geography courses influences students’ comprehension of scientific concepts, Earth processes, and geographic principles. 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

BES440 Remote Sensing of the Environment
BIS442 Advanced Geographic Information Systems and Applications
BIS343 Geovisualization
BIS344 Intermediate Geographic Information Systems and Applications
BIS342 Introductory Geographic Information Systems
BIS242 Environmental Geography
BIS 489 Socio-Environmental Studies in the Ecuadorian Mainland and Galapagos Islands


The focus of my research comes from my longstanding fascination with our changing environment and with the use of technologies to monitor these changes. A significant part of my work concentrates on an interdisciplinary field of inquiry commonly labeled as land change science to seek answers to challenging such as what kinds of land use and land cover changes are occurring and why, and what are the consequences of these changes for biogeochemical cycling, ecosystem functioning and services, and human welfare. My work also spans over the human and physical dimensions of global change and lies at the intersection between climate and land use change. The thread that runs through all my research is its theoretical and empirical base in geographic information science (GISc). My work highlights the creative use of GIS not only as a tool, but more importantly as a scientific framework that can help produce transformative geospatial knowledge. My research focuses on the intersection between spatial and social theory, and on how spatial technologies can help to answer a variety of questions like: 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?

Key Areas: GIS, remote sensing, socio-environmental geography, Latin America, Pacific Northwest.

Selected Publications

2023. López, S., and Maldonado, A. New insights on water quality and land use dynamics in the Napo Region of Western Amazonia. In Lopez, S (ed.) Socio Environmental Research in Latin America: Interdisciplinary Approaches Using GIS and Remote Sensing Frameworks. Springer Nature, Switzerland. pp. 81-115.

2023. López, S (ed). Socio Environmental Research in Latin America: Interdisciplinary Approaches Using GIS and Remote Sensing Frameworks. Springer Nature, Switzerland.

2022. López, S. Deforestation, forest degradation, and land use dynamics in the Northeastern Ecuadorian AmazonApplied Geography 145: 102749

2020. López, S., López-Sandoval MF., Jung J-K. New Insights on Land Use, Land Cover, and Climate Change in Human–Environment Dynamics of the Equatorial AndesAnnals of the American Association of Geographers.

2020. López, S., López-Sandoval MF., Gerique, A., and Salazar, J. Landscape change in Southern Ecuador: An indicator-based and multi-temporal evaluation of land use and land cover in a mixed-use protected areaEcological Indicators 111.

2020. López-Sandoval MF., and López, S. Between techno-science and experience: hybrid knowledge as a foundation for applied research on climate change. In Carrion, A., and Acosta, M.E. (eds). Applied research on climate change: Contributions to Latin American cities. FLACSO, Quito. Pp.  21-38.

2017. López, S, Jung, JK, and López, MF.  A hybrid-epistemological approach to climate change research: Linking scientific and local knowledge sysems in the Ecuadorian Andes. Anthropocene 17: 30-45.

2017.  López, S., Wright, C., Costanza, P. Environmental change in the equatorial Andes: Linking climate, land use, and land cover transformations. Remote Sensing Applications: Society and Environment 8: 291-303.

2016.  López, S., and López, MF. “The socio-ecological systems of southeastern Ecuador: Processes and patterns of land use change”. In Young, K., and Postigo, J. (eds).  “Nature and Society: Socio-Ecological perspectives on Global Changes in Latin America”. Instituto de Estudios Peruanos:Lima Peru, pp. 67-108.

2015.  López, S. and Stokes, D. Modeling the invasion of Holly (Ilex aquifolium): Spatial relationships and spread trajectories. The Professional Geographer. 68(3): 399-413

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. 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.