Nost, Eric

Dr. Eric Nost
Assistant Professor
PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison
519 824-4120 ext. 53279
Hutt 344

Political ecology; digital governance; environmental planning, markets, and justice; webmapping; agro-food systems; wetlands.

I am a geographer researching how data and technology inform conservation. I draw on and contribute to the fields of political ecology, science and technology studies (STS), and digital geographies. My most recent project followed the US state of Louisiana's efforts to simulate future wetlands loss along the Gulf Coast. Based on interviews, document surveys, and attendance at public meetings, I explain how bureaucrats and ecosystem scientists develop an infrastructure for modeling, build an institution and lean on technologies to learn from their simulations, and apply their findings to planning large-scale coastal restoration. The project characterizes the winners and losers that result and speaks to the opportunities and limits of applications of "big data" in (environmental) governance. Some of my previous research examined the contested role of software in ecosystem services markets in Oregon, while new projects explore digital agriculture, especially the design, maintenance, and use of decision-support tools and the governance of ag data infrastructure.

I teach classes in nature-society geography and (web) mapping, using maps to publicize hidden dimensions of environmental policy. I also participate in the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative, tracking how the US federal government portrays climate change and other issues on the web. For the past several years, I have collaborated in an effort to collate and visualize US EPA data on the North American hazardous waste trade - you can view our work here.

GEOG*2480 Mapping and GIS
GEOG*4480 Contemporary Geographical Thought

For a full list, see my CV here. For webmapping and other programming projects, visit my Github page.

Moore, S. A., H. Rosenfeld, E. Nost, K. Vincent, and R. E. Roth. 2018. Undermining methodological nationalism: Cosmopolitan analysis and visualization of the North American hazardous waste trade. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space. .

Vincent, K., R. E. Roth, S. A. Moore, Q. Huang, N. Lally, C. M. Sack, E. Nost, and H. Rosenfeld. 2018. Improving spatial decision making using interactive maps: An empirical study on interface complexity and decision complexity in the North American hazardous waste trade. Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science.

Rosenfeld, H., S. Moore, E. Nost, R. E. Roth, and K. Vincent. 2018. Hazardous Aesthetics: A “Merely Interesting” Toxic Tour of Waste Management Data. GeoHumanities. .

Nost, E. and M. Kelly. 2018. “Land Loss and Restoration in Coastal Louisiana: 1932-2009” in Water: An Atlas. Guerrilla Cartography.

Moore, S., R. Roth, H. Rosenfeld, E. Nost, K. Vincent, T. Buckingham, M.R. Arefin. 2017. Undisciplining Environmental Justice Research with Visual Storytelling. Geoforum. .

Nost, E., H. Rosenfeld, K. Vincent, S. Moore, and R.E. Roth. 2017. HazMatMapper: An online and interactive geographic visualization tool for exploring transnational flows of hazardous waste and environmental justice. Journal of Maps 13(1): 14-23. PDF. Map . Shortlisted for Journal of Maps’s 2017 “Best Map” award.

Nost, E. “American Coast, Imperiled Energy. 2015. A review of Jason P. Theriot’s American Energy, Imperiled Coast Southern Spaces.

Nost, E. 2015. Performing nature’s value: software and the making of Oregon’s ecosystem services markets. Environment and Planning: A 47 (12): 2573-2590. .

Nost, E. 2014. Scaling-up local foods: commodity practice in community supported agriculture (CSA). Journal of Rural Studies 34: 152-160.

Digital Environmental Governance

I’m excited to hear from prospective grad students who are curious about the intersections of digital technologies and environmental governance. From "smart" devices for home energy efficiency to social media platforms, new data-generating sensors and data-synthesizing algorithms are increasingly central to the everyday lives of many. But these may prove transformational within environmental governance as well, as conservationists, regulators and planners, and corporations hope to: make decision-making "data-driven" with modeling software and webmaps; employ social media and websites to communicate their message; develop new data infrastructures like blockchain for brokering trust in supply chains. The promise is that technologies can help solve sustainability issues related to food security, climate change adaptation, and ecosystem services. A key challenge for geographers in the coming years is assessing this promise, by understanding the human dimensions of new digital tools - their design, use, maintenance, and impacts - alongside other governance trends like marketization and metrification.  

Some specific projects we could collaborate on might include:
  • evaluating ecosystem services decision-support software and conservationist groups' use of it
  • understanding the use of decision-support tools and/or the design of data governance frameworks within "smart" farming
  • visualizing environmental agencies’ and nonprofits' web presences and practices
Prospective students might be interested in conducting interviews, document analysis, and surveys for their research, as well as working critically with digital technologies themselves. I can offer training in critical communication skills - including mapping, web design, public writing - and in the scholarly fields of political ecology, science and technology studies, and digital geographies.

I encourage interested candidates to email me at with a brief statement of interest, an unofficial transcript, a writing / research sample, and a CV/resume.

Graduate Students Supervised

Name Research
Ph.D. Glaros, Alex
M.A. MacIntyre, Jillian Understanding the barriers to agroecological farming practices in the Maritimes through a climate justice lens.
M.A. O'Brien, Aidan Data governance and decision-support systems for precision soil carbon conservation.