Health Geographer and Data Scientist

I’m a Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) researcher using open science tools and an exploratory data analytic approach to investigate issues of equity across space and time. I use applied geographic data science, quasi-experimental econometrics, and statistics to seek policy-driven, systems-integrating solutions.

My research centers on how “place” impacts health outcomes in different ways, for different people. Active projects include:

  • Calculating Multidimensional Metrics for Social Determinants of Health
  • Identifying Neighborhood-Level Health Effects of Air Pollution in Urban Areas
  • Defining and Ranking Opioid Risk Environments in Rural Areas
  • Social-Spatial Network Analytics for HIV Populations in Urban Areas

I’m the Assistant Director of Health Informatics at the Center for Spatial Data Science at University of Chicago, where I also teach full time as a Lecturer in Geographic Information Science.

My favorite tools are R, POSTGIS, javascript, and python (depending on the job). I’m also very interested in supporting elegant, powerful systems infrastructure for (big) spatial data and dynamic analysis. My graduate research in GIS at John Hopkins University emphasized social science modeling, knowledge engineering, and sound data infrastructures. In my PhD studies with the GeoDa Center at Arizona State University, I continued to work with data in geospatial analysis and modeling, further integrating dynamic decision science with causal inference & spatial effects research.

My Background

A lot of people ask me how I found my place studying “place.” I was trained as a geologist at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where I was lucky enough to learn from the Greats of Field Geology including Stephen Marshak, Kurt Burmeister, Craig Lundstrom, and Stephen Hurst. There I caught the love for the detective chase in decoding complex phenomena with scientific thinking, careful data preparation, and rigorous process.

I learned GIS at the Illinois State Geological Survey, and then interned at the US Geological Survey center in St. Petersburg, Florida.

After a few years of travel, writing, and career exploration, I exported my database and writing skills to the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern, where I learned from an incubator-like community of public health scientists and medical researchers. I pursued a M.S. in GIS, and finally found my way to the Ph.D program at Arizona to work with the Anselin group.

I also enjoy writing lyrical nonfiction and poetry, and received my M.F.A. in writing from Roosevelt in 2011. I love my records almost as much as my terminal, as well as my family, Polish poster art, travel whenever possible, and mountain hikes.