Skip to main content

Ryerson’s Department of Geography & Environmental Studies is home to active research across numerous fields of study. The Department, and the students in programs offered by the Department, benefit from the knowledge and experience gained in these research projects. A selection of current research is presented below.


As an urban social geographer, she is keenly interested in understanding and documenting the settlement experiences of newcomers in the Canadian urban milieu. New Canadians, who are predominantly of non-European origin, face numerous challenges during their settlement process. This includes accessing some of the basic needs of life, like food and shelter. She is particularly interested in exploring the interplay of structural, group and individual level factors that lead to various urban inequalities and impact upon the integration of newcomers into the Canadian society. Her current research focusses on the intersections of the built environment, poverty and community resilience in Toronto’s inner suburbs. 

Current Projects:

Understanding the Intersections of Residential Satisfaction and Neighbouring in Toronto’s Inner Suburbs, Funded by SSHRC, Neighbourhood Change Research Project.

Causes and Consequences of Residential Overcrowding among Sri Lankan Tamils in Toronto, Funded by Ryerson University.

Canadians at War Medal

Geographic Analysis Research Team: Dr. Doug Banting, Professor Larry Fullerton CD, Professor Susan Laskin

The research team and student volunteers have spent the past three years combining and refining nine different data bases representing the original members of the CEF that went overseas in 1914. These Canadians fought through the first gas attack at the Second Battle of Ypres and suffered horrendous losses in the spring of 1915. Most of the histories of this time outline the generalities of young, untried Canadians joining the British forces for King and Country. But who were these soldiers?

After visiting the European battle sites of the CEF, the team has decided to concentrate on one urban regiment, the 15th Battalion (48th Highlanders of Canada), from Toronto. This study of over 1,100 soldiers focuses on the attributes recorded in contemporaneous and derivative records, which have been compiled so that database and mapping tools can be utilized. Preliminary results are being reported to the current regiment and to the 48th Highlanders Museum. The intention is to develop information products in time for the hundredth anniversary of the Second Battle of Ypres. It is intended that final results will also be presented to the Regiment in 2016 for the one hundred and twenty-fifth anniversary of the Regiment’s founding in 1891.

The project will then concentrate on the other regiments of the CEF starting with other urban-based units from Calgary and Montreal.


Dr. Claus Rinner's research in Geographic Information Science contributes to the development of novel decision support methods for both, experts and the general public. His goal is to enhance the mapping and analysis functions in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to support “visual thinking” and facilitate effective decision-making. 

Dr. Rinner is the co-author of "Multicriteria Decision Analysis in Geographic Information Science", a research monograph published in Spring 2015 that summarizes his decade-long research on spatial decision support techniques. For example, Dr. Rinner's MSA student Brad Carter implemented the concept of locally weighted multi-criteria analysis in vector-based GIS, which could help make geospatial planning and decision-making more accurate. Or, a visiting student from Germany, Steffan Voss, developed MCDA4ArcMap, a GIS-based decision support tool that has garnered considerable interest from other researchers and practitioners across applications such as industrial site location and conservation. This research direction is funded by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Discovery Grant.  

Dr. Rinner is also engaged in research on participatory mapping, volunteered geographic information (VGI), and open data. Within the "Geothink" Partnership Grant funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), he and his graduate and undergraduate students examine participation on the geospatial web, VGI systems, and the scope of municipal open data catalogs in Canada. This research aims to understand ongoing changes in government-citizen interactions as they pertain to geospatial data and processes.  

Dr. Eric Vaz

Dr. Eric Vaz has recently founded the Laboratory for Geocomputation. Dr. Vaz is spearheading projects dealing with the topics of health geography, land use change, and sustainable futures. Awarded 2012 with the Rising Star Award of the Regional Science Association International, he is involved in research projects totaling over $2.2 million in funding. Between 2012 and 2014 Dr. Vaz has published extensively in top journals in the fields of Geography and Regional Sciences, see the complete list of his publications at To visit the Laboratory for Geocomputation's web site, go to

Dr. Shuguang Wang's Book

One of Dr. Shuguang Wang’s current research projects is to a comparison of Canada's 11 Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs). Undertaken jointly by Dr. Wang and his doctoral student, Rebecca Hii, in the Policy Studies Ph.D. Program, this study examines the various PNPs for their levels of success. The study aims to achieve three objectives. First, it investigates whether the nominated immigrants in general exhibit "better capacity to integrate." Second, it examines the retention rates of the nominee immigrants in the nominating provinces. Third, and from a policy study point of view, this study is concerned with the strengths and challenges of intergovernmental collaboration in this decentralized immigration initiative.

In a different project, Dr. Wang and his former MSA student Juan Valencia are investigating the effectiveness of Best Buy’s Dual-Brand Strategy in Canada. To implement a dual-brand strategy in the same market requires sufficient differentiations between the two brands. In the literature of retail internationalization, much attention has been paid to entry modes and paths. Few studies have looked at the effectiveness of dual branding as a strategy for operating and expanding a retail business in a foreign market. More specifically, few existing studies have examined how retailers differentiate the two brands in the same market to minimize cannibalization. The purpose of this study is two-fold: (1) to reconstruct the spatial execution of the dual-brand strategy in Canada; (2) to examine the differentiations between the Best Buy and the Future Shop brands from four aspects: geographical proximity, store operation, product offering, and price structure.

On the basis of decade-long observations and study, Dr. Wang recently wrote a 10-chapter book titled China’s Retail Economy: A Geographic Perspective. The book is not just packaged with information and data. The information and data are processed and analyzed to reconstruct the process of change and growth in China’s retail economy, and to reveal the impact and consequences of retail internationalization. It should not only be a useful reader for university students and faculty researchers, but also be an informative reference for international retailers and transnational real estate developers, who contemplate business and investment opportunities in China. Details about the book can be found on the publisher’s web site at

Dr. Lu Wang

Dr. Lu Wang teaches and conducts research in the area of health, urban and economic geography. She has a strong interest in health and GIS. Together with a graduate student, she developed a two-zone (urban-rural) 2-step floating catchment area accessibility model in GIS. The model represents access to primary care physicians in Toronto and was published in The Professional Geographer (2011). Dr. Wang is the principal investigator of a research program funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) investigating immigration, health and healthcare. In her research, she uses a mixed-method approach combining statistical, spatial and qualitative techniques to examine questions such as “Are immigrants healthier than native-born populations in Canada?”; “Are disadvantaged groups such as the elderly, low income population, ethnic minority and refugees have adequate access to healthcare needed?”; “How do neighbourhood characteristics affect immigrant health?”. She explores these questions in collaboration with community organizations such as the Council of Agencies Serving South Asians, Hong Fook Mental Health Association, and the Korean Canadian Women's Association. One of her most recent publications in Social Science and Medicine, co-authored with a Master's student, employs a multi-level logistic regression approach to examine the regional health disparity among Canada’s native-born and foreign-born populations. The findings in this article were reported in media such as CBC Radio 1 and OMNI TV in December 2013.


Dr. Andrew Millward is the principal investigator with Ryerson University's Urban Forest Research & Ecological Disturbance (UFRED) Group. The UFRED Group envisions cities with healthy, abundant and resilient tree cover where citizens understand that urban forests are essential green infrastructure and that city tree protection and enhancement are integral to urban sustainability. UFRED has three research foci that include: raising urban forest awareness and stewardship, urban forest protection and urban forest enhancement. To these ends, UFRED uses geospatial technologies including GIS, remote sensing and spatial analytical methods to identify and document urban forest structure and function. Current lines of inquiry include development of mobile interactive tree mapping tools to promote urban environmental stewardship, quantifying the role of vegetation to mitigate rise in urban microclimatic temperature, forecast modeling of treed urban parks under climate change scenarios, mapping of tree roots in three dimensions using ground penetrating radar (GPR), and soil remediation strategies for improvement of the growing medium for urban trees.