University of Colorado at Boulder

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Elisabeth Root

Medical Geography, Spatial Epidemiology, Quantitative Methods

Assistant Professor of Geography 

Human Geography
Associate Faculty of IBS
303-735-0264 IBS 472  
Ph.D. University of North Carolina, 2009

Research Interests

My research explores geographical patterns of health and disease using quantitative spatial methodologies to understand the socioeconomic and environmental determinants of human health. I am particularly interested in the complex interactions between demographic, socioeconomic and environmental factors that influence human health and how we can quantify these factors and interactions to better understand health outcomes. My work relies on spatial statistical analysis, geographic information systems and remote sensing to explore the dynamic human-environment interactions that affect disease processes. My current research focuses on two broad topics: the ecology of chronic diseases (e.g., cancer, heart disease, birth defects) and socio-environmental drivers of communicable diseases (e.g., cholera and shigella).

Selected Publications

Emch, M. and E.D. Root. (2009). Emerging and Remerging Diseases. in A Companion to Health & Medical Geography. T. Brown, S. Curtis and G. Moon (eds). Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Emch, M., M. Ali, E.D. Root and M. Yunus. (2009). Spatial and Environmental Connectivity Analysis in a Cholera Vaccine Trial. Social Science and Medicine, 68(4): 631-637.

Root, E.D., R. Meyer and M. Emch. (2009). Evidence of Localized Clustering of Gastroschisis in North Carolina, 1999-2004. Social Science and Medicine, 68(8): 1361-1367.

Mobley, L.R., E.D. Root, E.A. Finkelstein, O.A. Khavjou, R. Farris, and J. Will. (2006). The Built Environment, Obesity, and Cardiovascular Disease Risk in Low-Income Women. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 30(4): 327-332.

Mobley, L.R., E.D. Root, L. Anselin, N.L. Gracia, and J. Koschinsky. (2006). Spatial Analysis of Elderly Access to Primary Care Services. International Journal of Health Geographics, 5(19).

Publications updated February 2009

Labs & Facilities

KESDA Ken Erickson Spatial Data Analysis Lab

KESDA Lab is an instructional computer lab with advanced software and hardware used to teach technique (skills) courses in geography.


I teach courses in medical geography, disease ecology, spatial statistics (quantitative geographic methods) and GIS applications of public health. Many of my courses used a problem based learning (PBL) approach. PBL allows for student collaboration in an active learning environment. Classes often begin with the introduction of a problem based on complex real-world situations and students work in groups to identify, find and use appropriate resources to "solve" the problem

Recent Courses Include

Graduate Students

Medical geography, development, HIV/AIDS, political geography, health & inequality
GIS; disease ecology & spatial epidemiology
neighborhoods & health; health disparities; green space & community gardens; spatial epidemiology
Political violence and conflict; infectious disease
Ph.D. Alumni
Neighborhood Effects on Behavioral and Educational Trajectories of U.S. Children and Adolescents
M.A. Alumni
Child Mortality from Lower Respiratory Infections and the Effect of Arsenic-contaminated Drinking Water in Rural Bangladesh