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Doug Leasure

Population Data Scientist

I am a computer nerd, a nature loving hippie, and I often find myself embarrassingly excited about statistics. I am driven to search for new ways to use science to make a positive impact in the world. I started out as a population ecologist using satellite imagery and spatial data to study animal populations with the goal of helping to conserve biodiversity. I slowly migrated towards studying populations of people, with a particular interest in countries where traditional population data are unavailable or outdated. It can be quite an adventure developing new methods using non-traditional data like satellite imagery or social media to fill these data gaps.

After earning a PhD in Biological Sciences from the University of Arkansas (Woo Pig Sooie!), I did post-doctoral research at the Odum School of Ecology working on a NASA project to forecast extinction risks for stream trout populations using satellite imagery. Before coming to Oxford, I spent a few years at WorldPop, University of Southampton working with a talented group of researchers to develop statistical methods to estimate populations of people in every 100 m grid square across entire countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

I love teaching workshops to help students and professionals in low and middle-income countries pick up new skills in Population Data Science. I have worked with the United Nations for a number of years leading these types of workshops in Colombia, Nigeria, Jordan, Cameroon, and beyond. It is a real privilege to be able to work on these types of projects and to have opportunities get out into the world trying to do some good with science and education.