Dr. Amber L. Pearson

Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences, Michigan State University
Adjunct Research Fellow - University of Otago


Amber L. Pearson I am a health geographer with a focus on social justice and understanding the unexpected tenacity, adaptability and resilience of the underprivileged, while paying careful attention to the structural and social factors that led to disadvantage in the first place. I have diverse regional interests from poor to wealthy countries. My work features geospatial and epidemiologic methods and critical development thinking.

My water research is at the intersection of spatial and social dimensions of health with a focus on water security. My overall research goal is to understand the interactions between human-induced ecological change, political and social dimensions of access to water, and human agency/coping strategies to improve health and wellbeing.


Dr. Pearson to teach professional course at the
University of Otago - wellington

On February 14 and 15, 2018, Dr. Pearson will be teaching a Geographic techniques in health research and policy course at the University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand. The course is aimed at public health, urban planners, statistics and geographic sciences students, researchers and practitioners. The course will help those working in the public sectors seeking to understand the concepts and applications of spatial health research.


click here for course information


Curriculum vitae

Water Science Network

University of Otago

Google Scholar


Current Projects

Children's visual exposure to 'blue' spaces in a capital city

Wellington, New Zealand

Visibility of green (e.g. parks) and blue (e.g. lakes) spaces is thought to benefit mental health. However, until recently, quantification of visual exposure to these natural environments has been limited. We developed a novel method for quantifying visibility of green and blue spaces (called VVI) and found that higher levels of blue space visibility were associated with lower psychological distress among adults in the capital city of New Zealand, Wellington.

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The dynamics of access to water and health in East Africa

Rainwater collection Rainwater collection
Bore hole well Borehole well

While substantive research on access to water has been conducted, the definition of access to water varies between studies and has evolved within monitoring institutions (e.g. JMP). Typically, measures of access to water include locational access (distance), time (to fetch water, waiting times), financial access (cost of water), microbiological and chemical quality or whether a source is improved/unimproved, and reliability (particularly for surface water sources).

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Exposure to chemical and microbiological agents in cenote water on karst


The karst environment is challenging due to: i) complicated hydrology, contamination through cracks in surface; ii) the ability for a few contaminant sites to cause widespread contamination; and iii) storm events may cause bacteria & chemicals (e.g., NO3) to surge in system. In the Yucatan karst environment, health outcomes are very poor. Read More 

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