Alex Chen

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The line “Here was one room; there another” from Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway germinated my interest in the spatial science world. This world has given me new perspectives on how the built environment impacts our wellbeing, our health, and our interactions.

The GeoDesign program provides unique insight onto a rapidly changing world. I have had multiple opportunities to learn both in and out of the classroom. Coupled with an emphasis in public health, the GeoDesign curriculum has allowed me to immerse myself in spatial statistics, epidemiology, health resilience, and international development. In this regard, I have had opportunities to pursue research with Dr. Yao-Yi Chiang, Dr. John Wilson, and Dr. Jennifer Swift in SSI, with projects examining anywhere from health system access to the Rwandan genocide. I have also had the opportunity to apply what I have learned into practice through a summer internship with the Southern California Environmental Health Sciences Center, with Dr. Jill Johnston, where I identified Environmental Justice (EJ) communities within Los Angeles County using local aggregate pollution indices, and a current internship with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) GeoCenter’s Mapping for Resilience Program. These experiences have inspired me to pursue my interests in chronic disease coinfection proliferation and outcome work in the context of the Global South.

Thus, the B.S. in GeoDesign isn’t just a degree about design, planning, or geography. It helps students construct a new framework on how to think. We learn how to examine problems using different lenses and how to develop innovative yet practical solutions.

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