Our Focus: Examining the intersection of health and place
The initial mission of the Spatial Epidemiology & Medical Geography (SEM-G) Lab is to focus on pandemic-related research across disciplines centered on issues of health and place. Subsequently, the SEM-G will expand its mission beyond pandemic-related research and explore other health-geography topics, such as access to health care, socio-demographic disparities (especially in rural areas impacting health), water quality and health issues, climate-health dynamics, and vector disease modeling (e.g., tick-borne, mosquito-borne, etc.). The SEM-G Lab is uniquely positioned at the intersection of health and geography, combining spatial research and techniques with expertise from one of the few public health colleges in Tennessee, to study issues at multiple scales in Appalachia and beyond.
We are an interdisciplinary group of researchers with diverse backgrounds and research interests. Our collaboration emerged from individual efforts to examine emergence and impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. Faculty members from the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology (College of Public Health), Department of Geosciences (College of Arts and Sciences), and the Quillen College of Medicine studied the early stages of the pandemic from multiple perspectives, including spatial, temporal, public health, and epidemiological, using various complementary skill sets.
The common thread that brought us together was an interest in examining health concerns from multiple perspectives. To that end, in partnership with ETSU Emergency Management and the ETSU Geoinformatics and Disaster Science (GADS) Lab, we created an interactive dashboard to describe and disseminate information about COVID-19 case incidence and fatalities using daily data released from the Tennessee Department of Health. From there, we developed a second dashboard focusing on the Central Blue Ridge region (northeast TN, western NC, and southwest VA).
Concurrently, one of our team was creating daily and weekly briefing notes on COVID-19 case loads and new/current outbreaks for regional caregivers. By combining efforts, we increased efficiency and effectiveness.
While we continue our pandemic-related research, we look forward to exploring broader health-geography concepts and topics.
In the news
Articles about creation of the SEMG lab
Article about ETSU Geosciences masters student Lukman Fashina’s research to ensure clean drinking water in northeast Tennessee