Professor Aspinall's research addresses the interdisciplinary aspects of land use and related change - particularly in rural areas - and set within the context of sustainable development. This has included a particular focus on an understanding of coupled natural and human systems.
Professor Aspinall worked at the Macaulay Institute, Aberdeen from 1987 to 1997 on a wide variety of land use topics. He then worked at Montana State University until 2004 as a Professor of Geography in the Department of Earth Sciences and as the Director of the Geographic Information and Analysis Center. During this time he also spent two years as Program Director of the Geography and Regional Science Program at the US National Science Foundation in Washington, D.C. Since 2004 he has been a Professor and Director of the School of Geographical Sciences at ASU, and he has spent the last year acting as interim co-Chair of the Global Land Project (GLP) to establish the governance, management, and organizational structures to support the GLP. From 2006-2011, Professor Aspinall was the Chief Executive of the Macaulay Institute, Aberdeen.
Shelly, F., W. Bigler and R. Aspinall. 2004. Geography, technology, and institutional history. In: Brunn, S. D., S. L. Cutter and J. W. Harrington Jr eds., TechnoEarth: A Social History of Geography.