Robert is a distinguished scientist in the GeoAI group at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and a Professor in the Bredesen Center at the University of Tennessee. His interests are primarily in the geospatial dimensions of risk and decision making under uncertainty. Areas of application vary widely including population dynamics, environmental risk, maritime safety, transport risk, climate impacts, and change detection. Preferred methods vary but are usually probabilistic in nature and grounded in spatial statistics, machine learning, probabilistic graph models, Bayesian reasoning models, and so forth. Recent interests have increasingly focused on methods for eliciting expert knowledge as Bayesian priors in applications with sparse data. As a faculty member at UT, Robert engages graduate students in Geography, Mathematics, and the Bredesen Center Data Science Ph.D. program. He regularly serves on thesis committees, advising, and facilitating internships at ORNL.
Robert is a member of IEEE (senior member), ACM, AAAS, and AAG. He has served on numerous panels/committees, organized conference workshops. Robert is presently an editorial board member of the Journal Transactions in GIS and the International Journal of Geographical Information Science. He is serving on multiple panels including the federal advisory panel for the Natural Hazards Mitigation Needs Assessment Study conducted by the National Institute for Building Sciences and the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the International Working Party on Technical, Environmental and Safety Aspects of Decommissioning and Legacy Management for the Organisation for Economic Co-Development (OECD) Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), Paris. He is regularly a co-chair for the ACM Deep Spatial Workshop and program chair for ACM KDD. In the past he has served as ORNL liaison to the World Health Organization Chemical Risk Network and chaired the AAG's Geographic Information Science and Systems Specialty Group at AAG.
Before arriving at ORNL, Robert was a senior research scientist at the University of Tennessee where he engaged in a variety of projects around spatial analysis including initialization and maturation of the SADA program which is continue today. SADA is internationally recognized for its success in “spatializing” regulatory human and ecological risk models and integrating it across all aspects of the characterization and restoration process from sample design to final decision outcomes.
In 2011 Robert received his Ph.D. from the Geography Department at the University of Tennessee for his work in connecting the spatial sciences with exposure modeling and regulatory guidance for radiological contaminated sites. Robert holds a Masters and Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from UT as well.
UT-Battelle Distinguished Researcher Award, 2023
ORNL National Security Sciences Directorate Distinguished Innovation Team Award, 2023.
ORNL National Security Sciences Directorate Distinguished Researcher Award (2022)
Ecological Society of America Sustainability Science Award for US cities can manage national hydrology and biodiversity using local infrastructure policy, doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1706201114 (2021)
DOE Appreciation Letter from Director of the Office of Science for COVID pandemic modeling under the National Virtual Biotechnology Laboratory (2021)
Oak Ridge National Laboratory Significant Event Award for WSTAMP deployment. (2019)
DoD Appreciation Letter from the Pentagon for life saving work in population modeling (2019)
Oak Ridge National Laboratory Significant Event Award for WSTAMP deployment. (2014)
Environmental Protection Agency 2010 Scientific and Technological Achievement Award (2010)
IEEE Computational Intelligence Society Government Task Force Lead, (2023)
DoD Civilian Harm Mitigation and Response Action Plan Working Groups (2023)
Member of International Working Party on Technical, Environmental and Safety Aspects of Decommissioning and Legacy Management for the Organisation for Economic Co-Development (OECD) Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), Paris (2023 -present)
Federal advisory panelist for the Natural Hazards Mitigation Needs Assessment Study conducted by the National Institute for Building Sciences and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (2023)
Editorial board member of International Journal of Geographical Information Science (2023- present)
Editorial board member of the Transactions in GIS (2/20/2022 – 12/31/2025)
Chair, American Association of Geographers GISS Specialty Group (2018-2019)
Bredesen Center Data Science Professor, (6/1/2022 – 5/31/2027)
Joint Faculty Professor, Geography Department, University of Tennessee (since 2012)
SIGKDD Program Committee Member (2022-present)
ACM Deep Spatial Workshop Co-Chair (2021-present)
World Health Organization Chemical Risk Network ORNL Liaison (2014-2015)
International Society for Bayesian Analysis
IEEE (+CIS, +Computer, +GRSS)
Association of American Geographers (+GISS, +SAM)
American for Computing Machinery (+SIGKDD, +SIGSPATIAL)
American Association for the Advancement of Science