We draw upon multi-disciplinary sciences to operate at the intersection of population, health and place. Our priorities include:
- connecting genetics, physical and cultural environments and human behavior to clarify the causes of various health endpoints;
- documenting the human experience over individual lifespans;
- exploring the physical and cultural characteristics of places and how they evolve over time; and
- adding community vital signs to electronic health systems to support precision medicine and improve patient care.
Estimating Unmet Surgical Needs
Developing Citizen Scientists
In 2016-2017, a team of Geodesign majors organized elementary school students to gather and analyze data about their sun exposure in playgrounds as part of the university’s “SunSmart” outreach program to reduce the risk of melanoma and skin cancers in young people. Under the direction of Myles C. Cockburn, professor of preventive medicine, dermatology and spatial sciences with the Keck School of Medicine of USC, Darren M. Ruddell, associate professor (teaching) of spatial sciences and Jennifer N. Swift, associate professor (teaching) of spatial sciences, the undergraduate researchers then coordinated a workshop in which the elementary school students contributed their ideas for constructing shade structures.
Connecting Physical Activity and Place
Linking Place with Chronic Diseases
“The GeoDesign curriculum along with a public health minor gave me a unique framework to look at health disparities that manifested through place, a critical variable that has historically been overlooked in the analytical phases of public health research. As a graduate student in epidemiology, I continue to apply my interest in place and other neighborhood-level variables onto chronic disease outcomes such as obesity and cardiovascular disease. I ultimately hope to build upon current theoretical frameworks and methods in causal inference that allow researchers to better understand how variables act differently at scale and use this information to create more effective and adaptive health policy.” – Alex Chen, B.S. GeoDesign ’18; Columbia University, Master of Public Health ’20.