Thomas holds a Diploma in Geoinformatics from the University of Münster and is currently a research associate in the Spatial Intelligence Lab at the Institute for Geoinformatics (ifgi) – University of Münster. At ifgi he also leads the GI@School Lab, which aims to foster spatial learning by the use of geoinformation and geospatial technologies in (K-12) education. He organizes research and development activities, develops projects for and with schools, focusing on science communication and citizen science.
He is researching how the use of geospatial technologies influences the spatial learning of primary and high school students, focusing on spatial competences like orientation, wayfinding or map comprehension. His choice of technologies is in the area of mobile devices with positioning possibilities, interactive (web)maps and minimal GIS. He developed several software prototypes for spatial learning and conducted an empirical study with nearly 200 children in Germany, Rwanda and Brasil to take into account different cultures and preconditions. His further research interests are in the areas of Citizen Science and Volunteered Geographic Information, Human-Computer-Interaction, user-centered design and usability in geospatial technologies.
His work was awarded several times. Most recently he received the ACM Eugene Lawler Award for humanitarian contributions in computer science for his work in GI@School. He was elected Vespucci Fellow in 2012, having co-organized and participated in six Vespucci Institutes between 2009 and 2012.