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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

Dr Alessandro Sorichetta PhD

Senior Research Fellow

Dr Alessandro Sorichetta's photo

Alessandro is a Senior Research Fellow at the Department of Geography and Environmental Science of the University of Southampton, where he leads the WorldPop GIS team and coordinates the WorldPop Global project.


PhD in Earth Sciences (Hydrogeology), University of Milan, 2011 

CoC in Environmental Planning and Management, 2001

MSc Degree in Geological Sciences, University of Camerino (Italy), 2001

Work history

Mar 2016 - Present: Senior Research Fellow, WorldPop, Geography and Environmental Science, University of Southampton

Jan 2014 - Feb 2016: Research Fellow, WorldPop, Geography and Environmental Science, University of Southampton

Apr 2012 - Dec 2013: Grantholder, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Joint Research Centre, European Commission, Ispra, Italy

Feb 2011 - Jan 2012: Research Fellow, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Milan

May 2006 - Sep 2007: Research Assistant, Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) Earth Institute, Columbia University

Oct 2005 - Sep 2007: Research Assistant, City University of New York (CUNY) Research Foundation

Apr 2004 - Sep 2007: Research Scholar, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Queens College, CUNY


Nov 2007: PhD Fellowship in Earth Sciences, University of Milan

Nov 2003: Post-Graduate Research Fellowship to do research abroad, University of Camerino (Italy)

Short biography

Alessandro graduated in Geological Sciences at the University of Camerino (Italy) in October 2001. From April 2004 to September 2007 he was a Research Scholar at the CUNY Queens College, where he used spatial analysis techniques to model the tectonic evolution of transform faults. From May 2006 to September 2007, he also was a Research Assistant at the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) of Columbia University, where he was involved in the Global Rural Urban Mapping Project (GRUMP) and contributed to develop a new approach to identify urban area extents, classify intra-urban typologies, and detect urban changes using DSM-QuikSCAT/SeaWinds data. In February 2011, he obtained a PhD in Earth Sciences from the University of Milan, focused on advancing the use of spatial statistical methods to assess groundwater vulnerability. From April 2012 to December 2013 he was a Grantholder at the Institute for Environment and Sustainability of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, where he was involved in the GEOWOW Project and acted as Associate Editor of the International Journal of Spatial Data Infrastructure (IJSDIR).

He is currently a Senior Research Fellow at the Department of Geography and Environment in the framework of the WorldPop Project.  He leads the WorldPop GIS team and coordinates the Global High Resolution Population Denominators Project, which main aim is to produce multi-temporal (2000-2020) population distribution datasets, disaggregated by disaggregated by gender and 5-year age groups, for 249 countries, territories, and dependencies. He also teaches in the Core Skills in GIS module and is involved in a number of other projects mostly focusing on (i) demographic mapping, (ii) estimating human migration and mobility, (iii) supporting the current malaria eradication effort, and (iv) assessing urbanization and its effects on multiple environmental matrices. He is a member of the Flowminder Foundation Operational Committee and an Editorial Board Member of the Italian Journal of Groundwater.

In May 2017, Alessandro received the 2016 IPUMS International Research Award from the Minnesota Population Center of the University of Minnesota.

Research interests

  • GIS and Remote Sensing
  • Population distribution mapping
  • Spatial demography and epidemiology
  • Human migration/mobility and infectious diseases
  • Groundwater vulnerability
  • Urbanization and its effect on environmental matrices
  • Tectonic evolution of transform faults


Recent research highlights

In November 2016, Alessandro et al.’s article Mapping internal connectivity through human migration in malaria endemic countries was covered on the front page of European Hospital @Medica. In May 2017, the same article won the 2016 IPUMS International Research Award in the category Published Research. The award honours the best published research that use IPUMS International data to advance/deepen the understanding of social/demographic processes.

Alessandro is currently involved in the Settlements, Infrastructure, and Population (SIP) Data Intercomparison Project which purpose is to create a collaborative SIP data community, fully document assumptions and methodologies underlying existing and planned SIP products to improve understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, better identify stakeholder requirements and priorities, and coordinate efforts to provide reliable datasets and services to meet end-user needs.

Additionally, Alessandro is also contributing to the GEO Human Planet Initiative, which main aims are to produce improved EO-derived and physically-based human settlements datasets, favorite their integration with census data to improve population/demographic datasets, and test the use of the latter to monitor of the implementation of multiple post-2015 frameworks (including the New Urban Agenda, SDGs, Paris Agreement, Sendai Framework).

Recent research projects

2016 - Ongoing: Malaria Elimination feasibility; funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

2016 - Ongoing: Global High Resolution Population Denominators; funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

2016 - Ongoing: Combining Traditional and Emerging Big Data Sources to Model Population Movement Patterns; funded by the Austrian Science Fund.

2015 - Ongoing: Modelling and forecasting African Urban Population Patterns for vulnerability and health assessments (MAUPP); funded by the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office (BELSPO).

2014 - Ongoing: High resolution demographic and mobility mapping; funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

2014 - 2016: The development of spatial databases of synthetic populations in malaria endemic regions; funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

2013 - 2016: Mega urban changes and impacts in the decade of the 2000s; funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Land-Cover/Land-Use Change (LCLUC) Program.

PhD research

Title: Groundwater Vulnerability Assessment Using Statistical Methods

Supervisors: Professor Marco Masetti and Professor Giovanni P. Beretta

Funding Institution: University of Milan

Research group

Population, Health and Wellbeing (PHeW)

Affiliate research group


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Peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters published before joining WorldPop

Nghiem S.V., Sorichetta A., Elvidge C.D., Small C., Balk D., Deichmann U., and Neumann G., 2014. Urban Environments, Beijing Case Study. In: Njoku E.G. (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Remote Sensing, 869-878, Springer New York, Heidelberg, Dordrecht, London, doi: 10.1007/978-0-387-36699-9

Sorichetta A., Ballabio C., Masetti M., G.R. Robinson, Jr., and Sterlacchini S., 2013. A Comparison of Data-Driven Groundwater Vulnerability Assessment Methods. Ground Water, 51(6), 866-879, doi: 10.1111/gwat.12012

Sorichetta A., Masetti M., Ballabio C., and Sterlacchini S., 2012. Aquifer nitrate vulnerability assessment using positive and negative Weights of Evidence methods, Milan, Italy. Computer & Geosciences, 48, 199-210, doi: 10.1016/j.cageo.2012.05.021.

Sorichetta A., Masetti M., Ballabio C., Sterlacchini S., and Beretta G.P., 2011. Reliability of groundwater vulnerability maps obtained through statistical methods. Journal of Environmental Management, 92(4), 1215-1224, doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2010.12.009

Sterlacchini S., Ballabio C., Blahut J., Masetti M., and Sorichetta A., 2011. Spatial agreement of predicted patterns in landslide susceptibility maps. Geomorphology, 125(1), 51-61, doi: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2010.09.004

Taramelli A., Melelli L., Pasqui M., and Sorichetta A., 2010. Modelling hurricane element at risk in potentially affected areas by GIS system. Geomatics, Natural Hazards and Risk, 1(4), 349-373, doi: 10.1080/19475705.2010.532972

Sorichetta A., Seeber L., Taramelli A., McHugh C. M. G., and Cormier M.-H., 2010. Geomorphic evidence for tilting at a continental transform: the Karamursel Basin along the North Anatolian Fault (NAF), Turkey. Geomorphology, 119(3-4), 221-231, doi: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2010.03.035

Santini M., Taramelli A., and Sorichetta A., 2010. ASPHAA: a GIS-based algorithm to calculate cell area on a latitude-longitude (geographic) regular grid. Transactions in GIS, 14(3), 351-377, doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9671.2010.01200.x

Masetti M., Sterlacchini S., Ballabio C., Sorichetta A., and Poli S., 2009. Influence of threshold value in the use of statistical methods for groundwater vulnerability assessment. Science of Total Environment, 407(12), 3836-3846, doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2009.01.055

Nghiem S.V., Balk D., Rodriguez E., Neumann G., Sorichetta A., Small C., and Elvidge C.D., 2009. Observations of urban and suburban environments with global satellite scatterometer data. ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, 64(4), 367-380, doi: 10.1016/j.isprsjprs.2009.01.004


Book Chapter



Alessandro is teaching Projections and Geographic Reference Systems in the Core Skills in GIS (GEOG6061) module.

Current PhD students

Oct 2016 - Present: Jeremiah J. Nieves; Geography and Environment, University of Southampton (Research Project: Modeling spatio-temporal urban growth at the global scale from 2000 to 2020)

PhD students supervised to completion

Nov 2012 - Feb 2016: Dr Stefania Stevenazzi; Department of Earth Sciences, University of Milan (PhD Thesis: Time-dependent methods to evaluate the effects of urban sprawl on groundwater quality).

Dr Alessandro Sorichetta
Building 44 University of Southampton University Road Southampton SO17 1BJ

Room Number: Regus Cumberland Hse

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