Marynia Kolak, MS, MFA, PhD, is a health geographer and data scientist using open science tools and an exploratory data analytic approach to investigate issues of equity across space and time. Her research centers on how “place” impacts health outcomes in different ways, for different people, from opioid risk environments to chronic disease clusters. She focuses on quantifying and distilling the structural determinants of health across different environments, tying socio-ecological models of public health with geocomputational methods and quasi-experimental policy evaluation techniques.
She received the 2020 Nystrom Award for recent dissertation at the American Association of Geographers, 2017 Concordium Innovation Award (AcademyHealth) for her open-source visualization of Chicago neighborhood health indicators, and “Highest Impact” award in the Prevention Category at the American College of Cardiology 2019 conference for her work in connecting chronic disease rates with social determinants of health. She serves as the lead PI for the US Covid Atlas Project in part funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, PI for two air quality “smart city” projects with the Chicago Department of Public Health, Co-I for an NIH project investigating the opioid epidemic in rural Illinois, and is the spatial analytic lead at the Methodology and Advanced Analytics Resource Center for the Justice Community Opioid Innovation Network (NIH HEAL Initiative).
Marynia is Principal Investigator of the Healthy Regions and Policies Lab, the Assistant Director of Health Informatics and Senior Lecturer in GIScience at the Center for Spatial Data Science, University of Chicago. She additionally serves as a Health and Medical Specialty Group (AAG) board member and is chair of the Chicago Public Health GIS Network. She received her Ph.D in Geography at Arizona State University, M.F.A in Writing from Roosevelt University, M.S. in GIS from John Hopkins University, and B.S. in Geology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
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