Justine Blanford


It is an exciting time to be in the field of GIS! Technologies have evolved making the collection and analysis of spatial data much easier. Although there has been an explosion in the availability of geospatial data, asking pertinent questions and sifting through streams of data making sense of the world in which we live remains a challenge.

I use GIS and spatial analysis methods to address applied research questions to a wide variety of topics that take into consideration social/behavioural and environmental factors and range from host-parasite interactions, vector-borne diseases, animal/human mobility, food, to sports analysis.  

Much of my work concerns issues related to human health either indirectly through examining threats to food supply (via crop pests and crop diseases) or more directly via disease, mobility and health care accessibility. I use GIS to understand the ecology of disease and connectivity between locations using novel data sources and technologies. These have included looking at movement patterns in data-poor regions, in relation to vaccination needs, by identifying key travel routes; accessibility to healthcare; identifying disease epicenters and mapping people’s activity space at a national and international level.

The fun part of using GIS is that it can be used in all disciplines to view where something is, explore patterns and relationships, model different outcomes and develop hypothesis. To do so may require the use of large datasets, data-driven and/or theoretical approaches.

In my research I use GIS (and spatial analysis) to better understand

  • The mechanisms influencing patterns across space and time.
  • At what scale should we map and model different phenomena.
  • What new data sources and technologies are useful and
  • How can we effectively integrate these into the decision-making processes?

Current projects include:

Twitter data: Using Twitter data to understand mobility, perception and cyberbullying

Food Environments: understanding food environments and the role of availability vs accessibility of different food store types.

Vector-borne diseases: these include vectors that transmit malaria, dengue, zika, WNV and Lyme disease.

Research Interests

  • GIS
  • mobility
  • novel data source
  • novel technologies
  • spatial analysis
  • spatial and temporal ecology
  • health & disease
  • online education


  • Ph.D., Imperial College, UK

Courses Taught

  • GEOG 586 (Geographic Information Analysis)
  • GEOG 583 (Geospatial Systems Design and Analysis)
  • GEOG 364 (Spatial Analysis)
  • GEOG 596A,B,C (Individual Studies)
  • GEOG 591 (GIS for Health Analysis)