Bill Limpisathian

Credentials: PhD, MS, BS

Position title: Assistant Professor and Associate Faculty Director of the UW Cartography Lab

Pronouns: he/him


Website: NeuroCarto Research Group

376 Science Hall
Department of Geography
University of Wisconsin-Madison
550 North Park Street
Madison, WI 53706

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Academic CV
CV (Feb 2024)
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Summer 2024 Office Hours

Faculty Affiliations

Professional Affiliations


  • PhD, Geography (Cognitive neuroscience of cartography), University of Oregon, 2022
  • MS, Geography (Cartographic perception), Penn State, 2017
  • BS, Geography (GIScience) & Information Sciences and Technology minor, Penn State, 2015

Research Interests

Neuro-cartography, Cognitive cartography, Exploratory neuroscience, Map cognition, Visual perception, Aphantasic cognition, Neurodesign, fMRI, Neuro-centric UX design, Map design, Spatial thinking, Spatial cognition, Spatial computing

Research Agenda

My research sits at the crossroads of cartographic visualization and neuroscience – examining the perception and cognition of cartographic representations using fMRI. In simpler terms, I spend my days thinking about how our brains see and decode representations of space (maps!) and how might map design moderate this process. I am a big proponent of transdisciplinary empirical research methods that expand the way we think about and study maps and cartographic design.

I bring with me industry experience from my time as a member of the highly dynamic Apple Maps Cartography team. Additionally, I have extensive professional map production experience from my time as a UOregon InfoGraphics Lab graduate cartographer – having worked on the Atlas of Yellowstone, 2nd ed., the Atlas of Wild Migrations, and other atlases, books and projects. I also was the principal cartographer for the Frank Lloyd Wright UNESCO World Heritage nomination project while a member of the Penn State Gould Center.

I aim to synthesize my deep expertise and broad experiences to build out a Cognitive Neuroscience of Cartography (NeuroCarto) research group within the UW Cart Lab. My immediate research seeks to explore the impact of aphantasia – the inability to visually imagine – and related cognitive conditions on geospatial and map reading abilities. Investigating aphantasia and its potential impact on map cognition offers valuable insights into the fundamental mental processes that underpin the amodal cognition of maps. Such direct insights would surpass the information that traditional metrics of task performance or participant surveys currently provide. A more precise examination of these functional differences helps us better understand possible modality-independent mental strategies employed for map reading.

Teaching Portfolio

My teaching portfolio broadly encompasses cartography and map/geospatial cognition.

Graduate Student Recruitment

My research group welcomes grad students interested in cognitive cartography, human-centric map design, and geospatial cognition. I am especially interested in those with cognitive science/psychology experience. I encourage prospective graduate students interested in these topics to contact me via email.