Michael G. Commons, Geographer U.S. Census Bureau


As a geographer, I look at the world with a critical eye. As a spatial analyst with the Census Bureau, I investigate patterns of human settlement on the landscape and I design methods for analyzing demographic data in meaningful spatial units (Census work).

As a cartographer, I have the pleasure (or pain?) of creating informative maps. While I make no claim of being a professional cartographer, you can see some examples of my work here.

As a physical geographer, I spend much of my time contemplating the physical processes that surround me. While I love to travel the world, ever since 2001, when I moved to Redding, CA, for a job with the National Park Service, my heart has belonged to northern California. Working for the NPS gave me six years of priceless experiences, field observations and management operations, but best of all, it inspired my return to academia. My research activity has been focused on three main issues in northern California: riparian forest diversity and controlled streams, wildfire-risk, and invasive plant management, as listed below:

PhD Research: I researched and articulated spatial patterns of riparian forest diversity throughout the Trinity River watershed, with a focus on stream confluences and the influence of dams and water diversions;

Masters Research: I conducted a comprehensive a study of fire risk for the community of Forest Ranch, CA, and created a GIS model to predict the changes in fire behavior resulting from various fuel treatments;

Undergraduate Research: I designed a predictive model for the potential spread of Centaurea solstitialis (Yellow Starthistle) within Whiskeytown National Recreation Area.

As a member of the beautiful human society of Earth, I enjoy traveling and exploring. Some of my travel experiences can be found here.