The information provided on this page has been contributed by the individual alumnus

Libbey Kutch

Ph.D. 2019

Research Synopsis:

Medical Geography investigates the concepts of health-related topics by utilizing concepts and techniques from the discipline of geography. The utilization of spatial elements in the study of health and disease is important because adverse health outcomes vary spatially. As a Medical Geographer, my research interests are grounded in improving the quality of people’s lives through innovative health research and programs. I am interested in identifying vulnerable populations and understanding underlying environmental and cultural/behavioral factors associated with this vulnerability to help facilitate better public health policy and alleviate health disparities. My academic background includes a B.A. degree in Geography from Sam Houston State University, and a M.S. degree in Applied Geography with a specialization in Medical Geography and a minor in Epidemiology from the University of North Texas. My M.S. thesis focused on the relationship between the spatial distribution of HI V infection in Texas reported between 1999 and 2007 and the location of correctional facilities by examining zip codes within close proximity to those facilities. The results suggest that areas in close proximity to prison facilities have lower socioeconomic status and higher HIV prevalence rates, with clear distance decay. Thus, these locations should be targeted for increased HIV surveillance and intervention to improve detection and reduce HIV incidence.

My Ph.D. dissertation research will focus on another timely medical geography topic, specifically vitamin D deficiency and UV exposure and adverse maternal and child health outcomes Vitamin D is important for maternal and child health because it synthesizes calcium for bone growth and helps to prevents other important infectious and chronic diseases and conditions. Vitamin D deficiency and excess is an important topic pertaining to climate change. Currently the environment is being transformed by the Earth’s changing climate. Climate change is the largest factor driving environmental changes globally, and is one of the greatest challenges impacting human health.