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Principal's Profile

Professor Tonny J. Oyana is an internationally-recognized and seasoned expert in GIS, data management, strategies, GIS/GPS methods, algorithms, data visualization, spatial analysis, and data science communication. He earned his PhD in geographical information systems (GIS) at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo in 2003; Master of Science in GIS at the National University of Ireland, Cork, Ireland, in 1996; and Bachelor of Science in Education at the University of Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, in 1993.

His research and teaching interests lie in the use and development of geographic information science and computational intelligence concepts, tools, algorithms, and strategies and applications of spatial analytical methods. His research focuses on three principal lines of inquiry: (1) establishing the relationship between environmental health and life course exposure; (2) advancing GIS and data science methods, algorithm design, spatial analytical methods, rules, and strategies; and (3) understanding the factors that contribute to land systems change.

Professor Oyana has authored over 100 scientific publications including 50+ peer-reviewed journal articles, 1 book, 24+ refereed conference proceedings, 10 book chapters, 10 book reviews, presented over 120 papers at regional, national, and international conferences, and written 20+ technical reports. Internet access to his published work is through Google Scholar, Scopus, and PubMed.

He received postdoctoral training at the Department of Internal Medicine, SUNY at Buffalo with Dr. Jameson Lwebuga-Mukasa; and previously served as an Assistant and Associate Professor at the Southern Illinois University Carbondale for 12 years; and Professor and Director of Spatial Analytics and Informatics Core, UT Institute for Research, Innovation, Synergy, and Health Equity (iRISE), and was also in charge of the GIS and Spatial Science Environmental Health (GiSSE) Research Lab, at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis for four years. He has served in several administrative and senior scientific positions.

He has over 24 years of proven research and academic experience in North America, South America, Asia, Europe, and Africa. He has received over 18 national and international honors and awards. He spent his eight-month sabbatical leave as a Visiting Professor in 2010 at Yonsei University, South Korea. He was a visiting Research Fellow at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Colombia, South America. Professor Oyana's contribution to CIAT included the first applications of GIS in environmental health.

Professor Oyana has a strong record of excellence and research leadership in GIS and spatial science. He has strong hands-on data science experience, knowledge, and skills in major computing platforms and programs, including centralized network systems, cloud-based systems, database systems, and a wide array of GIS data services and applications. He has developed several research products, including four computational algorithms (FES-k-means, MIL-SOM, Flexible Genetic Algorithm, and Reaction-Diffusion mechanistic models for spatiotemporal modeling) and streamlined Diggle’s method for a disease cluster detection software application.

As a major advisor, he has directed the dissertation work of over 20 Master and 3 PhD students, many of whom have gone on to responsible positions in academic, industrial, and government. In total, he has successfully mentored to 7 PhDs, 34 master students, 2 resident fellows, 2 medical physicians, and many undergraduates. He has taught GIS, cartographic design, data visualization, and spatial analysis courses for more than 22 years.

Professor Oyana has been awarded over $1.4 million in external, internal, and service grants. His work has been funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Health Effects Institute, START International, and Kaleida Health Foundations.

Earlier studies at Makerere University were funded by the Center for Development Research of Denmark, University of Nairobi, and the United Nations Center for Regional Development. Prior to that Professor Oyana conducted research in development issues—the role of small scale enterprises in Africa's Industrial Development, and a study on cross-border activities and its implications on regional development.

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