Debarchana (Debs) Ghosh
Dr. Debs Ghosh has a Ph.D. in Geography from University of Minnesota, a MPhil in Population Studies and Masters in Regional and Urban Development from Jawaharlal Nehru University, India. With significant experience working on urban health issues from an interdisciplinary approach, Dr. Ghosh is also a Principal Investigator of the Institute on Collaboration for Health Intervention and Policy, co-director of mHealth/ehealth research interest group, and affiliated with Yale University Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS. As a health geographer, Debs’ research and teaching are primarily focused on the reciprocal relationship between ‘place’ and health, where place is a multidimensional unit, connecting people (vulnerable populations), things (facilitators and barriers), and environment. Dr. Ghosh informally describes herself as someone who is driven to understand how health is affected by anything outside of pills, needles, and scalpels. More recently, Dr. Ghosh is working in interdisciplinary-collaborative teams including academic colleagues and community based organizations (CBO’s) such as Hartford Food Alliance, UConn-Extensions, DC based HIV-CBOs, Yale-New Haven’s Community Health Care Van, CT’s Judicial Branch.
Research specializations include effect of ‘place’ on health, posited within Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory and the Human Ecology of Disease approaches, which serve to highlight the multiple systems (e.g., individual, family, interpersonal relationships, culture, environment, policy) that influence health outcomes. Central to this is Dr. Ghosh’s diverse yet complementary skill set including Geographic Information Systems (GIS), spatial statistics, mixed methods, social network analysis (SNA), mHealth (mobile health), and more recently, the design of randomized controlled trials (RCTs). The ultimate goal is to conduct ‘spatial behavioral interventions’ where research findings are translated to practice. Dr. Ghosh views this as a way to give back to the vulnerable populations and communities that have historically experienced societal-level exclusion and marginalization. Building upon these interests, she has expertise in developing various linear and non-linear regression models, neural networks, and space-time GIS models to understand the complex interplay of social-environmental-individual level risk factors of vector-borne diseases. Currently she has expanded her topical interests and is involved in three projects: 1) Measuring the extent and impact of structural racism and discrimination on health outcomes such as cancer, 2) Effect of connections between people, places, and risks on the interface of substance abuse and HIV/AIDS, 3) Facilitators and barriers of access to care among transgender and gender diverse communities in India. The collaborators of these projects form an interdisciplinary team from departments such as Psychology, Allied Health, Statistics, and Sociology from UConn, School of Medicine from Yale University, and School of Public Health from University of Maryland. At UConn, Dr. Ghosh incorporates research into pedagogy by teaching an undergraduate seminar on ‘Health Geography’, a hands-on graduate course on ‘GIS for Health and Environment’, and graduate seminars on ‘Spatial Analysis of Social Issues’.