frank witmer

Frank Witmer

Computer Science & Engineering
ECB 308B


2007 Ph.D., University of Colorado, Boulder, Geography. Dissertation: "The Effects of War on Land-Use/Land-Cover Change: An Analysis of Landsat Imagery for Northeast Bosnia"
2003 M.A. University of Colorado, Boulder, Geography
1997 B.S., summa cum laude, Tufts University, Mathematics & Computer Science


Frank Witmer is a computational geographer who conducts research in violent conflict and human-environment interactions using spatial statistical methods, remote sensing data, and simulation. He also uses immersive visualization technology in the Planetarium and Visualization Theater (PVT) to study the effects of environmental changes on salmon and Alaska fisheries. He currently teaches classes in both the Computer Science and Geomatics departments at UAA.

Research Interests

  1. Human-environment geography, with an emphasis on quantifying how human activity (e.g. war, population growth, urbanization) affects environmental conditions (e.g. land use, deforestation, climate) at local and regional scales.
  2. Immersive visualization of environmental changes at multiple scales
  3. Remote sensing, especially as applied to war and land-use/land-cover change detection
  4. Development of methods from spatial statistics, GIScience, and remote sensing for analyzing sociodemographic and environmental change data, including the location and diffusion of point events (e.g. violence, crime)


  1. Witmer, F., A. Linke, J. O’Loughlin, A. Gettelman and A. Laing. “Sub-national violent conflict forecasts for sub-Saharan Africa, 2015-2065, using climate-sensitive models” In review for Journal of Peace Research.
  2. Linke, A., T. McCabe, J. O'Loughlin, J. Tir, F. Witmer (2015). “Rainfall variability and violence in rural Kenya: Investigating the effects of drought and the role of local institutions with survey data.” Global Environmental Change34:35-47.
  3. Witmer, F. (2015). “Remote sensing of violent conflict: Eyes from above.”  International Journal of Remote Sensing 36(9):2326-2352.
  4. O’Loughlin, J., A. Linke, and F. Witmer (2014). “The effects of temperature and precipitation variability on the risk of violence in sub-Saharan Africa, 1980-2012.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences111(47):16712–16717.
  5. O’Loughlin, J., A. Linke, and F. Witmer (2014). “Modeling and data choices sway conclusions about climate-conflict links.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences111(6):2054–2055.
  6. O’Loughlin, J., F. Witmer, A. Linke, A. Laing, A Gettelman, and J. Dudhia (2012). “Climate variability and conflict risk in East Africa, 1990-2009.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences109(45): 18344–18349.
  7. O’Loughlin, J. and F. Witmer (2012). “The diffusion of violence in the North Caucasus of Russia, 19992010.” Environment and Planning A 44: 2379–2396.
  8. Linke, A., F. Witmer and J. O’Loughlin (2012). “Space-time Granger analysis of the war in Iraq: A study of coalition and insurgent action-reaction.” International Interactions38(4): 402–425.
  9. Witmer, F. and J. O’Loughlin (2011). “Detecting the effects of wars in the Caucasus regions of Russia and Georgia using radiometrically normalized DMSP-OLS nighttime lights imagery.”GIScience and Remote Sensing48(4):478–500.
  10. O’Loughlin, J. and F. Witmer (2011). “The localized geographies of violence in the North Caucasus of Russia, 1999–2007.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers101(1): 178–201.
  11. O'Loughlin, J., F. Witmer, A. Linke and N. Thorwardson (2010). “Peering into the fog of war: The geography of the WikiLeaks Afghanistan war logs 20042009.” Eurasian Geography and Economics51(4): 472–95.
  12. O'Loughlin, J., F. Witmer and A. Linke (2010). “The Afghanistan-Pakistan wars 2008–2009: Micro-geographies, conflict diffusion, and clusters of violence.” Eurasian Geography and Economics51(4): 437–71.
  13. Witmer, F., J. O’Loughlin (2009). “Satellite data methods and application in the evaluation of war outcomes: Abandoned agricultural land in Bosnia-Herzegovina after the 1992–1995 conflict.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers99 (5) Special Fifth Issue on Peace and Conflict: 1033–44.
  14. Witmer, F. (2008). “Detecting war-induced abandoned agricultural land in northeast Bosnia using multispectral, multitemporal Landsat TM imagery.” International Journal of Remote Sensing29(13): 3805–31.


Career History/Work Experience

  • University of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage, AK - Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science & Engineering, Fall 2014-present
  • University of Colorado, Boulder, CO - Research Associate, 2008-2014; Research Assistant, 2005-2008, Institute of Behavioral Science
  • International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Laxenburg, Austria, 2004
  • Science Applications International Corporation, Burlington, MA, 1997-2001
Back to top