Dan Brown



Ph.D. Geography, 1992, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
M.A. Geography, 1989, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
B.A. Geoenvironmental Studies, 1987, Shippensburg University

(734) 763-5803
3505 Dana


Brown's research interests focus on land use change and its effects on ecosystems and on human vulnerability. This work connects a computer-based simulation (e.g., agent-based modeling) of land-use-change processes with GIS and remote sensing based data on historical patterns of landscape change and social surveys. Brown and colleagues are working to couple these models with GIS-based data and other models to evaluate consequences of change. They are also working to understand the ways in which land-use decisions are made. Collaborative research investigate the effects of spatial and social neighborhoods on the physical and social risks on human health.

Though most of Professor Brown's earlier work has been in the US, his work is becoming increasingly international, with projects in China, Africa, and India.

Research on land-cover and land-use change is funded by the NASA Land-Cover Land-Use Change Program and by programs at the National Science Foundation on Human and Social Dynamics (HSD) and the Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems (CNH) and conducted in collaboration with colleagues in SEAS and in the Center for the Study of Complex Systems. Research on spatial aspects of public health is conducted in collaboration with colleagues in the School of Public Health and funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the US Environmental Protection Agency.


  • 2012-2014: “LCLUC Synthesis: Forested Land Cover and Land Use Change in the Far East of Northern Eurasia Under the Combined Drivers of Climate and Socio-Economic Transformation.” Co-I with K. Bergen (PI), NASA LCLUC Program, $999,147. 
  • “Addressing Disclosure Risk of Contextualized Microdata in Survey Design.” Co-I with M. Elliott (PI), K. Witkowski, T., Raghunathan, NICHD, National Institutes of Health (R01 HD067184-01A1), $173,185 (SNRE share). 
  • “NCRN-MN: Linking Surveys to the World--Administrative Data, the Web, and Beyond.” Co-I with M. Levenstein (PI), M. Shapiro, and several others. NSF National Census Research Network Program, $89,111 (SNRE share).
  • 2011-2015: “WSC Category 2: Extreme Events Impacts on Water Quality in the Great Lakes: Prediction and Management of Nutrient Loading in a Changing Climate.” Co-I with A. Michalak (PI), M. Moore, D. Scavia, A. Steiner, D. Huntzinger (co-PIs), NSF Water Sustainability and Climate (ENG-1039043), $212,986 (Brown share).
  • 2008-2014: “Spatial Land-Use Change and Ecological Effects (SLUCE): Interactions of Exurban Land Management and Carbon Dynamics” PI with J. Nassauer, W. Currie, S. Page, R. Riolo, and D. Parker, NSF Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems (GEO- 0814542), $1,166,065 (UM share).

  • Anderson Lecturer, University of Florida
  • Guest Professor, Wuhan University
  • Robinson Lecturer, The Ohio State University
  • Elected Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Laureate Computerworld Honors Program 

Select publications: 
  • Sun, S., Parker, D.C., Huang, Q., Filatova, T., Robinson, D.T., Riolo, R.L., Hutchins, M., and Brown, D.G. 2014.Market impacts on land-use change: An agent-based experiment. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 104(3): 460-484. doi:10.1080/00045608.2014.892338
  • Magliocca, N.R., Brown, D.G., and Ellis, E.C. 2014. Cross-site comparison of land-use decision-making across land system with a virtual agent-based laboratory. PLoS One., 9(1):e86179. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0086179
  • Brown, D.G., Agrawal, A., Sass, D.A., Wang, J., Hua, J., Xie, Y. 2013. Social responses to climate risks and opportunities across national and ecological boundaries: Changing household strategies on the Mongolian Plateau.Environmental Research Letters, 8: 045011. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/8/4/045011
  • Brown, D.G., Verburg, P.H., Pontius, R.G., and Lange, M.D. 2013. Opportunities to improve impact, integration, and evaluation of land change models. Current Opinion on Environmental Sustainability, 5(5):452-457. doi:10.1016/j.cosust.2013.07.012
  • Magliocca, N.R., Brown, D.G. Ellis, E.C., 2013. Interactions between market-driven livelihood transitions and induced agricultural intensification. PLoS One. 8(9): e73241. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0073241.
Read more publications here

  • Member, National Research Council (NRC), Mapping Sciences Comm., Board on Earth Sciences and Resources (2014-2016).
  • Chair, U.S. Carbon Cycle Scientific Steering Group, U.S. Global Change Research Program (2013-2014)
  • Member, U.S. Carbon Cycle Scientific Steering Group, U.S. Global Change Research Program (2011-2012).