Basic Bio

Academic Background

  • B.S. & M.S. University of Wisconsin, College of Engineering
  • J. D. University of Wisconsin Law School
  • Acquired professional licenses: attorney, engineer, land surveyor

Research and Professional Interests

Professor Onsrud’s research focuses on the analysis of legal, ethical, and institutional issues affecting the creation and use of digital databases and the assessment of the social impacts of spatial technologies. He is past president and past Executive Director of the Global Spatial Data Infrastructure Association (GSDI), past-president and fellow of the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS), and past Chair of the U.S. National Committee (USNC) on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA) of the National Research Council. He has participated in and chaired U.S. National Research Council studies addressing various spatial data and service issues and is a lifetime National Associate of the U.S. National Academies of Sciences. He is a former chair of the Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) Working Group, a Distributed Active Archive Center (DAAC) in the Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) located at CIESIN, Columbia University.  He is also a past chair of the Coalition of Geospatial Organizations (COGO) of which most leading geospatial organizations in the U.S. are members. Current and past research projects have been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Institute of Museums and Libraries, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the Federal Geographic Data Committee, and the U.S. Department of Education. He teaches currently courses in Information Systems Law, Responsible Conduct of Research, and Computers, Ethics & Society. He also has a teaching interest in Cadastral and Land Information Systems. He has been listed by the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board for Fulbright Specialist teaching assignments in Law and has completed such assignments at the University of Melbourne and the University of Muenster. He is a recent past Director of the School of Computing and Information Science (SCIS). A unifying theme in much of his teaching and research involves the concept of “ethics driven design.”