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Research Interests:
Social Sciences
Discipline: Geography
Pillar / Cluster: Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences


Ate Poorthuis holds a PhD in Geography from the University of Kentucky, where he developed methods to collect and analyze big data in a social science context. He is interested in the possibilities and limitations of the analysis and visualization of such data to better understand how our cities work. He teaches courses in map making, data visualization, spatial analysis and urban geography.

His recent work focuses on the use of big data and social media platforms as a method to critically understand how urban spaces ‘work’. How do people use and perceive their neighborhoods and the city-at-large? How and where do they shop, eat and buy services? And how do people respond to key events such as natural disasters?

Prior to attending the University of Kentucky, Dr. Poorthuis attended the University of Amsterdam in his native Netherlands and received degrees in Geography and Metropolitan Studies. He is also actively working on the application of academic insights in urban planning and policy and has consulted for a number of entities around (spatial) data analysis and visualization, ranging from the World Health Organization to the Dutch national government. Ate is a member of the Floating Sheep research collaborative.

Selected Publications

  • Poorthuis, A., M. Zook, T. Shelton, M. Graham and M. Stephens (2016). Using Geotagged Digital Social Data in Geographic Research. In: N. Clifford, S. French, M. Cope, T. Gillespie (eds). Key Methods in Geography. Sage: London
  • Shelton, T., A. Poorthuis and M. Zook (2015). Social media and the city: using big data and critical geovisualization for urban research. Landscape and Urban Planning 142: 198-211
  • Meeteren, M., A. Poorthuis, B. Derudder and F. Witlox (2015). Pacifying Babel’s Tower: using scientometric analysis to de-stretch the concept of polycentrism. Urban Studies (online first)
  • Shelton, T., A. Poorthuis, M. Graham and M. Zook (2014). Mapping the Data Shadows of Hurricane Sandy: Uncovering the Sociospatial Dimensions of ‘Big Data’. Geoforum 52: 167-179
  • Crampton, J., S. Roberts, and A. Poorthuis (2014). The New Political Economy of Geographical Intelligence. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 104 (1), 196-214.
  • Crampton, J., M. Graham, A. Poorthuis, T. Shelton, M. Stephens, M. Wilson and M. Zook (2013). Beyond the Geotag? Deconstructing “Big Data” and Leveraging the Potential of the Geoweb. Cartography and Geographic Information Science (CaGIS) 40 (2), 130-139.


  • PhD in Geography, University of Kentucky
  • MSc in Metropolitan Studies, University of Amsterdam
  • BSc in Human Geography, University of Amsterdam


  • Visualization work selected for The Best American Infographics 2015
  • Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds Research Grant, 2013-2015
  • Association of Emeriti Faculty Endowed Fellowship, University of Kentucky, 2012
  • Daniel R. Reedy Quality Achievement Fellowship, University of Kentucky, 2011-2014


  • Urban Geography & Planning
  • Technology and the City
  • Social Theory on Space
  • Geographic Information Systems and Spatial Statistics
  • Mapping and Visualization
  • Research Methodology