Category Archives: News

2016 AAG HMGSG Related Sessions


1124 Health Geography, Medical Humanities, and Narrative Medicine I: 8:00 AM – 9:40 AM in Imperial A, Hilton Hotel, Ballroom Level

1224 Health Geography, Medical Humanities, and Narrative Medicine II: 10:00 AM – 11:40 AM in Imperial A, Hilton Hotel, Ballroom Level

1521 HMGSG Peter Gould Student Paper Competition: 2:40 PM – 4:20 PM in Franciscan B, Hilton Hotel, Ballroom Level

1621 HMGSG Award Special Session: 4:40 PM – 6:20 PM in Franciscan B, Hilton Hotel, Ballroom Level


2177 Modeling exposure to pollutants and associated health effects: 8:00 AM – 9:40 AM in Athens North, Marker Hotel, Lower Level

2264 AAG – ISUH Opening Session: Global health and the environment I: Research: 10:00 AM – 11:40 AM in Nikko Ballroom I, Hotel Nikko, 3rd Floor

2269 GIS for Health and the Environment Using Social Media and Crowdsourcing Data:
10:00 AM – 11:40 AM in Carmel I, Hotel Nikko, 3rd Floor

2233 Population Health: 10:00 AM – 11:40 AM in Union Square 6, Hilton Hotel, 4th Floor

2464 AAG – ISUH Opening Session: Global health and the environment II: Research Funding & Policy Outreach: 1:20 PM – 3:00 PM in Nikko Ballroom I, Hotel Nikko, 3rd Floor

2539 Understanding and preventing non-communicable diseases: 3:20 PM – 5:00 PM in Union Square 12, Hilton Hotel, 4th Floor

2562 Spatial and eco-epidemiological modeling: 3:20 PM – 5:00 PM in Mendocino I, Hotel Nikko, 2nd Floor

2605 Modeling and preventing infectious diseases: 5:20 PM – 7:00 PM in Golden Gate 5, Hilton Hotel, Lobby Level


3129 Historical Spatial Epidemiology Panel: 8:00 AM – 9:40 AM in Union Square 2, Hilton Hotel, 4th Floor

3270 Healthcare services: access and participation: 10:00 AM – 11:40 AM in Carmel II, Hotel Nikko, 3rd Floor

3349 Health and Medical Geography Specialty Group Business Meeting: 11:50 AM – 1:10 PM in Union Square 22, Hilton Hotel, 4th Floor


4163 Health and transportation: 8:00 AM – 9:40 AM in Mendocino II, Hotel Nikko, 2nd Floor

4562 GIScience and disease mapping: 3:20 PM – 5:00 PM in Mendocino I, Hotel Nikko, 2nd Floor


5169 Spatial statistics and disease mapping: 8:00 AM – 9:40 AM in Carmel I, Hotel Nikko, 3rd Floor

5224 Spatializing Health: Geography, GIScience and Urban Health: 10:00 AM – 11:40 AM in Imperial A, Hilton Hotel, Ballroom Level

5269 Spatial distribution of disease: 10:00 AM – 11:40 AM in Carmel I, Hotel Nikko, 3rd Floor

HMGSG Leadership Nomination

Voting will take place at our Group Business Meeting on 3/31/2016, from 11:50 AM – 1:10 PM in Union Square 22, Hilton Hotel, 4th Floor.


Dr. Michael J. Widener for the Vice Chair (Dr. Widener is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto – St. George.

I am pleased to run for the vice-chair position of the Health and Medical Geography Specialty Group (HMGSG) of the AAG. I began my current position as a tenure-track Assistant Professor in Geography and Planning at the University of Toronto – St. George in 2015, after spending three years as a tenure-track Assistant Professor in Geography at the University of Cincinnati. I graduated with my PhD in 2012 from SUNY-Buffalo, my MS in 2009 from Florida State University, and my BA in 2007 from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. My current research is focused largely on how transportation and urban structure affect the health and well-being of city residents. In particular, I have published numerous papers on how spatiotemporal context and time pressure affect access to food retailers, and am currently investigating how these accessibility landscapes are related to food purchasing behaviors and nutrition. Other papers and projects involve older adults’ oral health, helicopter emergency medical services transport, and the relationship between peer-density and health outcomes. I am an active member in both the Health and Transportation Subcommittee and the Social and Economic Factors Committee in the National Academy of Science’s Transportation Research Board, and also frequent reviewer of papers for academic journals related to health, geography, and transportation. I have also been a board member of the AAG’s HMGSG since 2014 (term ending 2016). If elected vice-chair for the HMGSG I would be excited to continue serving the specialty group. Having served on the board, I have an excellent understanding of the specialty group’s mission and goals. One of these goals is to refresh the group’s web presence, establishing a space for health and medical geographers, from across the world, to learn more about each other’s work, as well as to promote the specialty group’s various activities and awards. I would work with the two newly appointed webmasters to make this happen. Additionally, I would like to work toward increasing the number of nominations we receive for our awards. Currently, the number of theses, dissertations, and other nominations is relatively low. With the chair of the HMGSG, I hope to make these awards more competitive through various methods of outreach and advertisement.


Dr. Xiang Chen for the at-large Board Membership (Dr. Chen is an Assistant Professor at the Arkansas Tech University):

My name is Xiang Chen and I am an Assistant Professor at the Arkansas Tech University. I received my B.S. (2007) and M.S (2009) in resource science from Beijing Normal University, China, and Ph.D. (2014) in geography from The Ohio State University. With a professional training centered on Geographical Information Systems (GIS), I have a keen interest in exploring how GIS could be well utilized to serve a healthy community in areas of environmental health and food security. This thread of research has generated multiple publications in respective health and geography journals (e.g., American Journal of Public Health) as well as the 2015 Jacques May Thesis Prize from the HMGSG. I have been an active HMGSG member since I joined the AAG. During the two-year experience serving as a board member for the AAG Geographies of Food and Agriculture Specialty Group, I have had the privilege to network with many leading geographers and community advocators who had a shared interest in addressing food and health issues facing the country. These issues could only be remedied by a collaborative effort between scholars and practitioners. I would like to extend my sense of determination and my professional service to AAG as a HMGSG at-large board member, if elected; and I will strive to bridge the gap between fellow geographers and health practitioners through creative activities, such as field trips and publication opportunities. Additionally, I will continue to advocate for increasing HMGSG membership through my professional networks and years of experience as a web developer.

Mr. Diego Pons for the Student Board Membership (Mr. Pons is a PhD Student/Graduate Teaching Assistant at the Department of Geography and the Environment, University of Denver):

The reason I want to be part of the Graduate Student Board is because I believe my background (BS Biology, MPH and currently PhD student in Geography studying climate change) can bring together an interdisciplinary approach to the challenges that we face now  regarding global health. If elected  as a Graduate Student Board member, I will promote this approach by trying to bring together different disciplines among other graduate students and professionals so that the synergies created by interdisciplinary research can move forward our knowledge on health and benefit those communities who need it the most. For instance, my expertise on vector-borne diseases has greatly benefited from my current skills on climate variability assessment. Moreover, the availability of fine-resolution satellites imagery, opens a whole new spectrum of potential research related to health, from vector-borne diseases to social patterns of spatial agglomeration, food production  and crime assessment all of which are relevant to health in a fast-pace changing world. Being a Guatemalan, I also stand for underrepresented minorities  in the health field. My research has always taken place in Guatemala where, as a tropical, poor country the challenges on health issues are  seen everywhere, from the new incidence of chronic diseases all the way to vector-borne ones and “traditional” food insecurity issues and infectious diseases. I want to be able to promote what has been called as “the next step” among several disciplines, that is, to bridge the gap between our knowledge and how to apply it to a particular social context. I plan to do this by organizing sessions at our annual meetings that bring together different professionals with different backgrounds,  posting available funding and internships for research (specially in Latinamerica) and by delivering any other responsibility that the Graduate Student Board member should provide.

Mr. Daniel Ervin for the Student Board Membership (Mr. Ervin is a PhD Candidate (ABD) at the Department of Geography, University of California, Santa Barbara):

I received a B.A. in psychology from George Washington University in 2002 after which I worked in non-profit and public health for a number of years before returning to school to earn my M.A. in Geography from the University of Wyoming. I am currently a PhD Candidate in Geography at the University of California, Santa Barbara. My dissertation examines the diet and diet-related health of recent Latino migrants to California, exploring the role of migrants’ current and origin locations and migration histories to determine whether experiencing different places (or types of places) has significant effects on health outcomes. The project integrates three distinct data collection methods: A survey, anthropometric measures of health, and stable isotope ratio analysis (SIRA) of hair samples, an emerging technique for dietary and geographic research. My research interests can be placed in three themes: the relationship between place, space, migration, and health, Human-Environment Dynamics, especially as they relate to agriculture and health, and improving geographic and health research methods. My geographic areas of interest are the U.S., Mexico, and Central America. Within this subgroup I am interested in advancing the importance of geography in the study of non-communicable diseases. I am running for the position of Student Board Membership in order to increase graduate student involvement in the organization, and to be a voice for student interests. The HMGSG is one of the fastest growing and most dynamic subgroups in the AAG. As we continue to progress it is important to keep graduate students involved in the organization. HMGSG has done an excellent job of this so far and I hope to build upon that work.  I have communicated with David Lamb (outgoing student board member) and I believe I have good understanding of the duties of the student board and can accomplish them. I can apply previous experience to the student awards committee, as I have served on several similar committees at my home institution. Outside of the normal duties, I would like to continue the success of the subgroup by increasing outreach, communication, and promotion to current and potential graduate student members. I believe that my non-profit work experience will play a valuable role in this as I worked in development, and specifically focused on attracting and retaining membership in an NGO for several years. Please feel free to contact me with any question about my qualifications (or anything else) at Thank you for your consideration.

Amanda Weber for the Graduate Student Board Member position (Ms. Weber is a PhD Student and Graduate Teaching Associate at Oklahoma State University):

My name is Amanda Weber and I am a second year PhD student in the Department of Geography at Oklahoma State University. I currently teach Cultural Geography and have taught physical geography in the past. My research interest focuses on spatial epidemiology and medical geography. My dissertation research will examine quarantine, isolation, and hospital preparedness in terms of an infectious disease event in the United States. I am currently the Gamma Theta Upsilon Chi Chapter Vice President. I hold a masters degree in liberal studies from the College of Staten Island (CUNY) and a bachelors in physical anthropology from the University at Buffalo (SUNY). I also hold a certificate of specialization in forensic anthropology. My background and my research are interdisciplinary, which makes me a good candidate for the HMGSG Graduate Student Board Member position. As co-organizer for the historical spatial epidemiology panel at this year’s AAG conference, I, along with my fellow co-organizers, are attempting to bridge the gap of various disciplines of both graduate students and professionals in a space that promotes the exchange of ideas and the potential for future collaborations. If elected as the HMGSG Graduate Student Board Member, I will promote further the interactions and collaborations of graduate students and professionals to advance our understanding of health and disease.  After completing my graduate work, I plan to seek a teaching and research position as I view fieldwork and the opportunity for student research experience as an integral component of the learning process. I am especially interested in teaching courses in medical/health geography, disease ecology, public health policy, and physical or medical anthropology.

Marynia A. Kolak for the Graduate Student Board Member position (Ms. Kolak is a PhD Candidate in Geography at the GeoDa Center at Arizona State University):

Her research interests are spatial analysis and health geography, with a focus on population-level program and policy evaluation. Reducing health and economic inequalities serve as core goals of many proposed place-based policies; incorporating spatial tools and geographic principles are thus essential to the evaluation process. She uses spatial econometrics and statistics to consider how selection bias and treatment heterogeneity can be accounted for in quasi-experimental causal research designs. Her dissertation work proposes a spatial data science framework for evaluation applications, with space serving as the place for integration of research design and methodology, data infrastructure, and decision-making. As an integral aspect of community engagement, she collaborates with the Chicago Department of Public Health and community organizations to develop and improve integrated civic technology systems for data exploration and more effective analysis. Previous work includes a spatiotemporal analysis of food accessibility in Chicago; engaging her students in a Humanitarian Mapathon for outbreak relief efforts, as part of their final projects; serving as the first graduate student association Wellness Director at ASU; and supporting the first HMGSG newsletter.


Mr. Michael R. Desjardins for the Student Board Membership (Mr. Desjardins is a PhD student in Geography at the Center for Applied Geographic Information Science at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte):

I look forward to the possibility of serving the Health and Medical Geography Specialty Group (HMGSG) as your graduate student board member.  I joined UNC Charlotte as a master’s student in the spring of 2015.  My research interests are in the domain of health geography, spatial analysis and modeling, spatial statistics, and landscape ecology.  My master’s thesis focuses on the development of a nature reserve design model and application of a genetic algorithm heuristic to facilitate conservation planning.  For my PhD, I plan on developing new techniques to understand the processes which are responsible for the spread of infectious diseases and models that can improve healthcare accessibility.  Other current projects include using Twitter data as a potential source for understanding the patterns (e.g. seasonality and intensity) of pollen outbreaks in the United States.  I also received a Bachelor’s degree in Geography from Keene State College in New Hampshire (2014).  During my undergraduate career at Keene State, I spent time in the Turks and Caicos Islands to understand how local policy and social perspectives affect coral reef conservation or lack thereof.  If elected, I will strive to promote the participation of both undergraduate and graduate students at the AAG, while sparking further interest in the growing field of health and medical geography.  I have great experience in community outreach stemming from my current position as president of the Geography and Earth Sciences Graduate Organization (GESGO) at UNC Charlotte.  As a PhD student, I understand that what we do as researchers and educators should ultimately have a positive impact on society to make the world a better place to live.  As health and medical geographers, we have an important role in society by developing new and improved approaches to increase healthcare accessibility, mitigate the spread of disease, and facilitate decision-making to improve healthcare policies.  Therefore, this position will allow me to actively communicate health and medical geography’s important role in solving real-world problems.  I was also recently appointed the co-webmaster of HMGSG and will utilize that position to actively reach out to the community through our website and social media pages.  I thank you for your consideration.

HMGSG Business Meeting 2016

The HMGSG Business Meeting for the 2016 AAG Conference will be held on Thursday, 3/31/2016, from 11:50 AM – 1:10 PM in Union Square 22, Hilton Hotel, 4th Floor.

This is a chance to socialize with peers and the community, and vote on future board members.

HMGSG 2015 Award Recipients

The Melinda S. Meade Distinguished Scholarship Award in Health and Medical Geography,
Sara McLafferty (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) has received the 2015 Melinda S. Meade Distinguished Scholarship Award in Health and Medical Geography. This very prestigious award is annually given to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the advancements of health and/or medical geography research. The HMGSG board was pleased to recognize McLafferty for her “tremendous contributions to research, teaching, and service in the field for decades.”

The Emerging Scholar Award in Health and Medical Geography.
The HMGSG board was pleased to offer the 2015 Emerging Scholar Award in Health and Medical Geography to Debarchana Ghosh (University of Connecticut) and Elisabeth Root (University of Colorado at Boulder) to recognize their outstanding accomplishments and their potential to become distinguished scholars in health and medical geography.

Besides the two newly established HMGSG awards announced earlier, the HMGSG board runs the student paper competitions every year.  This year’s winners include:

Jacques May Thesis Prize
Xiang Chen (Arkansas Tech University) receives the 2015 Jacques May Thesis Prize for his Ph.D. dissertation entitled “Bringing Time into Measure of Food Access: Place vs. People.” (Certificate and $250 award)

Carly E. Nichols (University of Arizona) receives the 2015 Jacques May Thesis Prize for her Master’s thesis entitled “Hidden Hunger: Political Ecology of Food and Nutrition in Kumaon Hills.” (Certificate and $150 award)

Peter Gould Student Paper Competition ($100 award each)
Caitlin Henry (University of Toronto) receives the 2015 Peter Gould Graduate Student Paper Competition in Health and Medical Geography award for the paper “Hospital Closures: The Sociospatial Restructuring of Labor and Health Care.”

Madeline Hinchliffe (University of Oklahoma) receives the 2015 Peter Gould Undergraduate Student Paper Competition in Health and Medical Geography award for the paper “Measuring Perceptions of Collegiate Students to Assess Shampoo Purchasing Decisions.”

Melinda S. Meade Graduate Student Travel Award ($200 award each)
Recipients of the 2015 Melinda S. Meade Graduate Student Travel Award are Mark Janko (University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill) and Yolanda McDonald (Texas A&M University, College Station).

International Geospatial Health Research Symposium at the AAG 2015: Call for Papers

International Geospatial Health Research Symposium

AAG Annual Meeting, Chicago, April 21-25, 2015

The International Geospatial Health Research Network
The AAG Health and Medical Geography Specialty Group (HMGSG)
The Association of American Geographers

This Symposium within the 2015 AAG Annual Meeting will explore new research frontiers in geospatial health research and foster international networks to share this information across borders and generate research synergies. It builds on multiple AAG Geography and Health Initiatives of the past decade, including the AAG Initiative for an NIH-wide Geospatial Infrastructure for Health Research, several recent AAG health initiatives and grants with the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation, and a recent international forum jointly organized by the AAG, the International Association of Chinese Professionals in Geographic Information Sciences (CPGIS), Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, University of Hong Kong, Utrecht University, and several health ministries and organizations in Europe, to launch an International Geospatial Health Research Network.

We welcome participation from geographers, GIScientists, health researchers, and other scientists working at the frontiers of geography, GIScience, and health at the AAG Annual Meeting in Chicago, April 21-25, 2015. Papers on all aspects of health research and its intersections with geography or GIScience are welcome. Topics may include but are not limited to:

– improving assessments of exposures to physical and social environments and health
– exposure monitoring utilizing real-time GPS/GIS methods
– infectious diseases and their relations to climate change
– geographic and environmental dimensions of chronic diseases
– cancer: genes, epigenetics, and the physical and social environment
– spatial patterns of drug abuse and treatment
– gene-environment interactions
– social environments and mental health
– crowd sourcing of geospatial data for health
– mHealth and global health service delivery initiatives
– health disparities and inequalities
– genomes, health, and geography
– disease ecologies
– interactions among environment, pathogens, humans, and institutions
– neighborhood effects on health behaviors and outcomes
– geographies of public health policies
– geospatial big data and health
– spatial analysis and modeling of disease and disease diffusion
– mobilities and health
– health care provision, access, and utilization
– accessibility of healthcare services and its optimization.
– health and well-being
– methodological issues in health research (e.g., MAUP, UGCoP)
– global health research and public health initiatives

To participate in the International Geospatial Health Research Symposium, please submit your abstract at When you receive confirmation of a successful abstract submission, please then forward this confirmation to: The abstract deadline is October 27, 2014.

For more information, please visit or contact members of the Symposium organizing committee at

Melinda Meade Memorial Disease Ecology Sessions @ AAG at Chicago, Illinois (2015)

Melinda Meade Memorial Disease Ecology Sessions @ AAG at Chicago, Illinois (2015)

In memory of Dr. Melinda Meade, who passed away in November 2013, several sessions around the theme of disease ecology will be organized at the upcoming 2015 AAG Annual Meeting in Chicago, Illinois (April 21-25, 2015). These sessions will be part of the larger International Geospatial Health Research Symposium.  They will provide a forum for conceptual, theoretical, methodological, and empirical scholarship on disease ecology.  Both qualitative and quantitative research is welcome, as are papers focusing on health in both high and low resource contexts.

Disease ecology is concerned with “the ways human behavior, in its cultural and socioeconomic context, interacts with environmental conditions to produce or prevent disease” (Meade and Earickson 2000, 21). Population, society and the physical and biological environments exist in a dynamic equilibrium. The human-environment relationship, if disturbed enough by major changes in land use, migration, population density, or other stressors can lead to a state of instability, which manifests as an increase in disease rates or the appearance of new diseases. At the same time, fundamental to disease ecology is notion that people do not respond passively to disease, but rather act purposely to mitigate the impact of disease. In this way, social and cultural circumstances can actually create/prevent disease. Disease ecology is inherently concerned with integrating the social and physical aspects of human existence.

Dr. Meade was a Professor of Geography at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill until her passing.  She was a pioneer in the field of health and medical geography and taught courses from freshman to doctoral level on issues of changing population dynamics and structure, agricultural modernization, urbanization, and globalization in the developing world; on population geography, medical geography, and disease ecology.  Dr. Meade is best known, particularly to undergraduate students, as the author of the definitive textbook in the field of medical geography.

If you would like to contribute to these sessions, please submit your abstract online ( and then email Elisabeth Root ( and Margaret Carrel ( with your title, abstract, author information, and AAG PIN by the due date of November 5, 2014 to be included in one of the sessions. You may also wish to send this information to, the organizers of the International Geospatial Health Research Symposium.

Elisabeth Root (, University of Colorado Boulder

Margaret Carrel (, University of Iowa

Michael Emch (, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Royal Geographic Society session: Co-Producing Knowledge on Health, Wellbeing and Place through Participatory Research

Co-Producing Knowledge on Health, Wellbeing and Place through Participatory Research (CfP session at the RGS 2014 Conference, London 26-29 August 2014)
Posted on January 7, 2014 by Centre for Medical Humanities
Royal Geographic Society (with IBG) Annual International Conference
Geographies of co-production
London, Tuesday 26 to Friday 29 August 2014

Call for Papers for a session entitled: Co-Producing Knowledge on Health, Wellbeing and Place through Participatory Research

Session Sponsor: Geography of Health Research Group

This session will bring together researchers who are exploring the links between health and place through co-produced research. The term co-production has gained prominence in the health and social care field in recent years (Munoz, 2013) – representing a shift towards self-management; a more collaborative relationship between service providers and recipients and non-state delivery of health and care services (van Eijk and Steen, 2013). However, we can also think of co-production within the research process itself and the production of knowledge on health and place (Durose et. al., 2013). In this session, we invite researchers to reflect on questions of how and why they have engaged in participatory research on health and place in order to co-produce knowledge on health geographies. The session will explore the benefits and drawbacks of different methods; how impacts have been produced and captured; the outputs and outcomes from this type of co-production and the types of knowledge it can produce. We will consider the ways that this knowledge has been translated into health policy and practice, as well as more traditional academic outputs. We invite traditional presentations but also researchers who would like to ‘demonstrate’ their experiences by engaging the audience in display /use of the participatory methods they have employed.

Please send proposed abstracts to Dr. Sarah-Anne Munoz, University of the Highlands and Islands, by January 31st 2014.

A sad announcement: the passing of Melinda Meade (medical geographer)

The Department of Geography at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, sadly announces the passing of Professor Emeritus Melinda Meade on November 19th. Professor Meade has been a central presence in our department since 1978, and her contributions to medical geography have been globally recognized. Some of her many accomplishments can be visited here:

Charting New Opportunities: Social Environment & Health Research

The Health and Medical Geography Specialty Group is pleased to co-sponsor the “Charting New Opportunities: Social Environment & Health Research” session at the 2014 Annual Meeting.  This session is organized by Bethany Deeds from the NIH-National Institute on Drug Abuse.  Please see the description and list of participants below.
Description: Current research has refined our understanding of which social environment features impact health, leading to new opportunities for both understanding and affecting these pathways. This paper session discusses recent findingsand highlights new directions in health research from the NIH’s Basic Behavioral & Social Sciences Research Opportunity Network (OppNet) grant portfolio.
Organizer/Chair: Bethany Deeds
(1) Presenter: Christopher Browning, Adolescent Health and Development in Context, R01DA032371
(2) Presenter: Penny Gordon-Larsen (will be represented by another co-investigator due to a conflict),  Environmental Changes and Health Outcomes across 25 Years: Four US Cities, R01HL114091
(3) Presenter: Glen Duncan, TWIN Study of Environment, Lifestyle Behaviors, and Health, R01AG042176
(4) Presenter: Doug Richardson, Geospatial Frontiers in Health and Social Environments, R13CA162823
(5) Discussant: Bill Elwood, OBSSR, NIH
For more information on (a) the Geospatial Frontiers in Health and Social Environments Initiative (Doug Richardson, PI) including materials from these symposia, please see and (b)  for grants and  funding announcements for OppNet: Basic Behavioral & Social Sciences Research Opportunity Network (Bill Elwood, OppNet Facilitator), please go to