Location. Collaboration. Impact.


Collaboration and innovation frame our governance and leadership teams. Those principles are central to everything we do.

As a consortium of research institutions led by Saint Louis University, the Taylor Geospatial Institute draws on the expertise and insights of a broad range of scientists at the forefront of geospatial research. As a coordinated TGI team, experienced leaders in higher education and experts from both industry and government work together to solve the world’s most pressing problems.

Governing Council

Our Governing Council is composed of senior administrators from partner institutions who provide advice to and serve in an oversight capacity for the TGI Director. Members of the Governing Council are appointed by the President of Saint Louis University.

Ken Olliff, Chair

Vice President for
Research and Partnerships
Saint Louis University

Aaron Bobick

Dean and James M. McKelvey Professor, McKelvey School of Engineering
Washington University in St. Louis

Kamal Khayat

Interim Vice Chancellor for
Research and Innovation &
Vernon and Maralee Jones
Professor of Civil Engineering
Missouri University of
Science and Technology

Photo of Christopher Spilling

Toni Kutchan

Oliver M. Langenberg Distinguished Investigator and Vice President for Research
Danforth Plant Science Center

Susan A. Martinis

Vice Chancellor for Research & Innovation &
Stephen G. Sligar Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Thomas E. Spencer

Vice Chancellor for Research
Curators’ Distinguished Professor & Scientific Director, NextGen Precision Health
University of Missouri–Columbia

Photo of Christopher Spilling

Christopher D. Spilling

Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic & Community Development, Professor of Chemistry
University of Missouri–St. Louis

Freddie E. Wills, Jr.

Vice President of STEM Initiatives and Research Partnerships
Harris-Stowe State University

Research Council

Our Research Council is composed of scientific leaders from partner institutions who help shape our strategic research agenda, develop competitive funding mechanisms, and establish a series of topical working groups to ensure we remain at the forefront of research in critical areas.

Vasit Sagan, Chair

Acting Director of the Taylor Geospatial Institute &
Associate Professor, Department of Earth
and Atmospheric Sciences
Saint Louis University

Mehdi Ferdowsi picture

Mehdi Ferdowsi

Professor and Interim Associate Dean for Research,
College of Engineering and Computing
Missouri University of
Science and Technology

Nathan Jacobs

Nathan Jacobs

Professor, Computer Science and Engineering
McKelvey School of Engineering
Washington University in St. Louis

Allison Miller

Member and Principal Investigator
Danforth Plant Science Center

Professor, Department of Biology
Saint Louis University

Enbal Shacham

Professor and Associate Dean for Research, College for Public Health and Social Justice
Saint Louis University

Chi-Ren Shyu

Paul K. and Dianne Shumaker Professor,
College of Engineering
University of Missouri–Columbia

Director, UMSL Geospatial Collaborative
University of Missouri–St. Louis

Tommie Yvette Turner

Director of the Institute for Science and Mathematics
Harris-Stowe State University

Shaowen Wang

Professor and Head of the Department
of Geography and Geographic
Information Science
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign


Vasit Sagan, Chair

Acting Director of the
Taylor Geospatial Institute

Serves as the principal point of contact for business with the TGI and is responsible for the management of the day-to-day operations and administration of the TGI according to the policies, procedures, and strategic direction set by the Governing Council. In addition, the Director leads strategic research and other priorities for the Institute.

Henning Lohse-Busch

Acting Chief of Staff 

The acting Chief of Staff reports to the acting Director of the Taylor Geospatial Institute to assist in the day-to-day operation, the development and execution of the strategic plan, and all tasks to ensure the long-term success of the Institute. 

Ness Sandoval

Acting Associate Director for
Diversity, Education, and Training

Responsible for coordinating institute-wide educational and training programs, identifying gaps in the regional workforce and talent needs, and designing and developing training programs (in collaboration with TGI leadership and stakeholders) that focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Enbal Shacham

Acting Associate Director for
Strategic Initiatives

Responsible for developing strategic partnerships, research, and innovation initiatives that enable the Institute as the nation’s leading academic center in geospatial science.

Jeffrey Mazur

Director of Government and Industry Partnerships

Responsible for identifying and executing strategic government and industry partnerships that advance TGI’s research enterprise across its member institutions.

Michael O’Toole

Program Director of Consortium Engagement

Responsible for enhancing and facilitating multi-institutional collaboration, communication, and faculty and student engagement across the eight institutions of the TGI.

Heather Venable

Business Manager

Manages the financial accounts and sponsored program activities related to TGI, as well as human resources operations, procurement, and pre- and post- award staff.

Alifu Haireti

Geospatial Computing Engineer

Justin Vilbig

Geospatial Data Scientist


Our scientists, from students to the most distinguished researchers, are critical ingredients to the success of this research consortium. The TGI brings them together through a range of opportunities, research and social events, and intentional matches.

TGI has several levels for faculty membership

  • Associate: Faculty members in the consortium that are affiliated with TGI. Check out our list of Associates. Sign up to be a member through the Associates Interest Form and Survey.
  • Member:  Actively engaged faculty members of the research consortium who participate in events, working groups and/or are recipients of TGI funding. Associates are elevated to members through their engagement.
  • TGI Fellow: Eminent researchers in geospatial science core or adjacent fields that help to catalyze regional collaboration. TGI Fellowships support rising stars in their fields who demonstrate exceptional research activity and impact and show promise in making a significant contribution to TGI’s research portfolio and mission. TGI Fellows are nominated through the process outlined in the Taylor Fellows program Notice of Opportunity.
  • Distinguished TGI Fellow: Internationally renowned scholars in core geospatial and applied areas. The distinguished fellows elevate the awareness of TGI and its impact in the broader geospatial ecosystem.
  • TGI Industry Fellow: Accomplished scientist/researcher from industry, who brings significant contributions to TGI’s missions and vision.

TGI Working Groups

TGI is establishing a formal framework for faculty and researchers at partner institutions to establish “TGI Working Groups.” A TGI Working Group should consist of a group of researchers from two or more TGI institutions, who meet on a regular basis to pursue common goals related to TGI’s mission of advancing collaborative geospatial research. These working groups are a grass roots tool to engage a wider group of faculty around a focused interest area. The TGI can provide some resources to establish and sustain the working groups.

Submit your proposal for creating a new TGI Working Group using the Notice of Opportunity for TGI Working Groups.

The Research Council has approved the following groups: 

  • Spatial Humanities Working Group: Lead by Professor Peter Kastor (Washington University) and Professor Fabien Montcher (Saint Louis University).
  • Water Security Research Working Group: Lead by Professor Jason Knouft (Saint Louis University)

More details on the working groups and meeting times will be posted soon.

TGI Postdoctoral Fellows

The TGI Postdoctoral Fellows Program is designed to bring distinguished researchers in geospatial science core or adjacent fields to the St. Louis region, develop the next generation of scientific leaders, and catalyze regional collaboration to accelerate the St. Louis region’s development as a global geospatial center of excellence now and into the future.

The Institute will award up to a dozen postdocs every year through a competitive process with rolling application deadlines. Postdocs will be provided nationally competitive salary, fringe benefits, research funding, state-of-the-art research facilities, career mentoring, and opportunities to engage with the network of scholars among our partner institutions.

Our St. Louis Regional Geospatial Ecosystem

The St. Louis region is a powerhouse for geospatial science; linking research, industry, and government partners into a vital network of collaboration that makes an impact. As the home of Next NGA West, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s new headquarters, St. Louis has a vibrant ecosystem for geospatial research, training, and innovation.

The Taylor Geospatial Institute plays an important role in this thriving network through:

  • Fostering globally recognized geospatial research
  • Sparking collaborations and exchanges between regional institutions and industry partners
  • Recruiting leading geospatial scientists to the TGI and its partners
  • Training the next generation of researchers, innovators, and business leaders

We add to an already extensive startup and entrepreneur landscape in St. Louis, including multiple industry innovation communities such as Cortex, T‑Rex, BioSTL, Moonshot Labs, 39 North, and a robust geospatial ecosystem consisting of more than 350 companies.

And bringing together all of these academic, industry, and government initiatives is the GeoFutures Coalition – a strategic planning initiative supporting the growth of the geospatial ecosystem in St. Louis and ensuring that the city is viewed as the global leader in geospatial innovation.