Dr. Rey founded the Center for Geospatial Sciences at the University of California, Riverside and is a recognized leader in the movement to develop open source GIS and spatial analytical software. He is the creator and lead developer of the open source package STARS: Space-Time Analysis of Regional Systems, and the co-founder and lead developer of PySAL: An Open-Source Spatial Analysis Library written in Python. Because the library can be used with other software projects, PySAL has been downloaded by thousands of researchers and programmers and is recognized as an invaluable tool to facilitate spatial analysis both in the open source as well as in the commercial world.

His biography lists his research interests as focusing on the development, implementation, and application of advanced methods of spatial and space-time data analysis while his substantive foci include regional inequality, convergence and growth dynamics as well as neighborhood change, segregation dynamics, spatial criminology and industrial networks. He is an elected fellow of both the Regional Science Association International and the Spatial Econometrics Association. Additionally, he is the founding director for the Center for Geospatial Sciences at the University of California, Riverside. The Center focuses on fundamental research in spatial analysis, open source software and open science, collaborative interdisciplinary research, and dissemination and training.

He has earned some high-profile awards in his field, including the Geoffrey J.D. Hewings award for young scholars who have made distinguished contributions to regional science.  He also has earned the David Boyce Award for his service to regional science and was presented with the Outstanding Service Award from the Association of American Geographers (AAG) Spatial Analysis and Modeling Specialty Group. This year, he gave the Spatial Economic Analysis Plenary Lecture at the European Regional Science Association meeting.

He is editor of the International Regional Science Review and of Geographical Analysis. He has given more than 200 presentations and guest lectures and has made nearly 1,000 contributions in the past year to PySAL. He has published more than 120 articles in academic journals and has been cited 7,662 times, and Google Scholar has ranked him in the top 5% of cited authors He currently has nearly $1M in research grants from the National Science Foundation.