Hi, I'm Ate Poorthuis. I'm an Assistant Professor of Big Data and Human-Environment Systems in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at KU Leuven. My research explores the possibilities and limitations of big data, through quantitative analysis and visualization, to better understand how our cities work. I have a particular interest in the practical application of these academic insights within urban planning and policy. Other projects I have worked on include the DOLLY Project, a repository of billions of geolocated social media, which is used to address the difficulties of using big data within the social sciences.

Before joining KU Leuven in June 2020, I was a faculty member in the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at the Singapore University of Technology and Design.


⬡ PhD in Geography

University of Kentucky

⬡ MSc (Research) in Metropolitan Studies

University of Amsterdam

⬡ BSc in Human Geography

University of Amsterdam

Recent Work

  • Poorthuis, A. and M. Zook (2020). Being Smarter about Space: Drawing Lessons from Spatial Science. Annals of the American Association of Geographers (110) 2, pp. 349-359.
  • Poorthuis, A. and M. van Meeteren (2019). Containment and Connectivity in Dutch Urban Systems: A Network‐Analytical Operationalisation of the Three‐Systems Model. Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie (Online First).
  • Poorthuis, A., D. Power and M. Zook (2019). Attentional Social Media: Mapping the Spaces and Networks of the Fashion Industry. Annals of the American Association of Geographers (Online First).
  • Kang, W., T. Oshan, L. Wolf, G. Boeing, V. Frias-Martinez, S. Gao, A. Poorthuis and W. Xu (2019). A roundtable discussion: Defining urban data science. Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science (46) 9, pp. 1756-1768.
  • Shelton, T. and A. Poorthuis (2019). The nature of neighborhoods: using big data to rethink the geographies of Atlanta’s Neighborhood Planning Unit system. Annals of the American Association of Geographers (109) 5, pp. 1341-1361.
  • Poorthuis, A. (2018). How to Draw a Neighborhood? The Potential of Big Data, Regionalization, and Community Detection for Understanding the Heterogeneous Nature of Urban Neighborhoods. Geographical Analysis (50) 2, pp. 182-203.
  • van Meeteren, M. and A. Poorthuis (2018). Christaller and “big data”: recalibrating central place theory via the geoweb. Urban Geography (39) 1, pp. 122-148.


At the Singapore University of Technology and Design I have taught the following courses:

Courses I have also taught include:

  • ⬡ Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (University of Kentucky, University of Amsterdam)
  • ⬡ Advanced Geographic Information Systems (University of Amsterdam)
  • ⬡ Methods and Techniques of Spatial Planning (University of Amsterdam)