2020 CGA Conference: From Geospatial Research to Health Solutions


Thu - Fri, Apr 30 to May 1, 12:30pm - 6:00pm


CGIS South, Belfer Case Study Room (Thursday afternoon) and Tsai Auditorium (Friday all-day)

Last update (7/30/2020):

As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves rapidly around the globe, many of our invited speakers are playing a key role at the forefront in combatting the disease. The organizing committee and sponsors recently reevaluated the situation, and decided to postpone the event until a later date, when we can hold it safely onsite (exact date undetermined at this time). We hope this will ease the current stress on our speakers and participants alike, and allow us to have quality interaction and experience when we convene onsite later.

Meanwhile, we are hosting a virtual forum focusing on time-sensitive COVID-19 topics only, at the original date (May 1st). Meeting URL will be sent to registered attendees via email. See here for more information.

We apologize for the repeated alternation in this event’s plan. Thank you very much for your understanding. We wish everyone to be healthy and safe at this challenging time.


Questions on the health of an individual, the health of an environment, an ecosystem, a home, a city, a nation, a continent and a planet motivates a range of geographic theories, methods, and practices. Our understanding of the health of a body has long been linked to ideas about the organization of societies and the planning of cities. New mapping technologies, forms of spatial analysis, and dynamic access to health data have presented researchers with new opportunities to inquire into the various landscapes of health. In this conference, we explore the urgent questions of health that impact our planet, enrolling the latest technologies and techniques for spatial analysis and geographic representation. We welcome multidisciplinary perspectives on health geography, medicine, public health, design, security, environmental health, and epidemiology, as well as approaches not limited to the applied, but that might inform application, to include the historical, theoretical and methodological, opportunities for collaboration, cooperation and governmental involvement, among others.

This event is free and open to the public. Registered participants are welcome to submit a poster to be included in the poster exhibit. Please send PDF file (42” x 36”) to jblossom @ cga.harvard.edu for review before April 20th. 

Note: The registration form is Harvard centric, but non-Harvard people are welcome to register and attend this event too. Please select "non-Harvard" in the pick lists, and enter "NA" if you are not working with any Harvard faculty.

Preliminary Program (updated on March 12th, 2020)

Keynote Speakers:

Este Geraghty, MD, MS, MPH, CPH, GISP is the Chief Medical Officer at Esri, developer of the world’s most powerful mapping and analytics platform. She heads Esri's worldwide health and human services practice and is passionate about transforming health organizations through a geographic approach. Formerly a Deputy Director with the California Department of Public Health, she led the state’s open data initiative. She also served as Associate Professor at the University of California Davis, conducting research on geographic approaches to health policy and community development. Geraghty is the author of numerous health and GIS peer reviewed papers and book chapters. She has lectured extensively around the world on a broad range of health GIS topics from social determinants of health to climate change and data privacy. She received her medical degree, master's degree in health informatics, and master's degree in public health from UC Davis. She is board certified in public health and a geographic information system professional. See https://www.esri.com/en-us/industries/health/overview for more information.

David Berrigan, PhD, MPH, is a biologist in the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences at the National Cancer Institute. His research has examined energy balance, carcinogenesis, physical activity and acculturation using a mix of animal models, population data, and methodological studies aimed at improving survey data and incorporating GIS tools and data-layers into survey data sets. Recently he co-edited a book with Dr. Nathan Berger titled Geospatial approaches to Energy Balance and Breast Cancer. David is strongly committed to research aimed at health for all via environments and institutions that foster healthy behaviors regardless of demographic or economic circumstances.

Dr. Carl Kinkade is the Acting Team Lead for the Surveillance and Information Team in the Center of Global Health at CDC. He just returned from living in Liberia for three years as the Health Information System Advisor. He assisted with the recovery from the Ebola Outbreak, establishing a real time case-based active surveillance system, integrated laboratory into surveillance, established GIS, and integrated health systems to meet the needs of the country. In addition to his work in Liberia, Dr. Kinkade is a first responder and has deployed numerous times for outbreaks and natural catastrophes around the world. Dr. Kinkade began his public health career at the local level in Nebraska before working at the state, Esri, and then CDC. Dr. Kinkade has a Doctorate in Public Health, Master’s degree in Community and Regional Planning, and an undergraduate degree in Architecture. Lastly, he served in the Philippines for the Peace Corps.

Mei-Po Kwan is Choh-Ming Li Professor of Geography and Resource Management and Director of the Institute of Space and Earth Information Science at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kwan is Fellow of the U.K. Academy of Social Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Association of Geographers (AAG) and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. She has received many prestigious honors and awards, including the Distinguished Scholarship Honors from the AAG. Kwan has been included in the 2019 Highly Cited Researchers list by the Web of Science Group. She has delivered over 220 keynote addresses and invited lectures in about 20 countries. Kwan's research interests include environmental health, sustainable cities, human mobility, urban/social issues in cities, and GIScience. Her recent collaborative projects include the development of a Geospatial Virtual Data Enclave (GVDE) for sharing and analyzing confidential geospatial data, and examination of the health risks of female sex workers, adolescent and adult participation in high-risk drug use, individual exposure to air pollution and noise, and environmental influences on physical activity. More information about Kwan is available at http://meipokwan.org.


Center for Geographic Analysis


Harvard Data Science Initiative

Institute for Quantitative Social Science

NSF I/UCRC Spatiotemporal Innovation Center


 Image sources on logo image left to right: Top row: Artificial intelligence concept graphic [Shutterstock], Access to health clinic in Lesotho map [Harvard CGA], Dr. John Snow image [Wikipedia]. Middle row: Heart rate graphic [Public Domain Pictures]; Tanzania travel time to clinic [Harvard CGA]; Heart disease in USA [Wikipedia]; GPS locations in neighborhood [Harvard CGA]. Bottom row: GPS air pollution mapping in Boston, MA [Harvard CGA], Ebola health care workers in West Africa [PBS Newshour]; Virus graphic [Freepic]. Composite image editors: Yuting Chen and Jeff Blossom.

See also: Conference