The University of South Carolina (USC) Big Data Health Science Center (BDHSC) is excited to announce the recipients of the 2023 Health Geographic Information Science (GIS) Scholars Program: Erin Looney, MPH Student, Department of Health Promotion, Education and Behavior, Arnold School of Public Health, and Huan Ning, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Geography, College of Arts and Sciences. Since 2021, a total of six graduate students have been awarded the Health GIS Scholarship. 

The University of South Carolina (USC) Big Data Health Science Center (BDHSC) is an interdisciplinary enterprise established in April 2019 that promotes and supports big data health science research across the flagship state academic institution and across the state through capacity development, academic training, professional development, community engagement, and methodological advancement. The BDHSC is committed to providing professional development and academic training for those interested in pursuing careers in big data health science. Research-based and curriculum-based training for students constitutes an important mechanism of the BDHSC. One of the notable training programs supported and carried out by the BDHSC is the Health GIS Scholars Program, which was launched by the BDHSC Geospatial Core. 

The Health GIS Scholars Program is intended to enhance students’ research and professional development in the area of GIS and health research, cultivate students’ interest in GIS and spatial applications to health research, build the technical and writing skills of students to pursue scholarly publications and reports, and develop scholars in health GIS who go on to make important contributions to the academic, public health, and other related sectors. 

As a Health GIS Scholar, Erin aims to develop her technical skills and expertise in GIS to conduct relevant research on environmental factors and public health. This award will support her project investigating the relationship between fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and social vulnerability in South Carolina from 2000–2018. With the support of the GIS scholarship, Huan aims to delve into the intricate dynamics of COVID-19 transmission in South Carolina (SC), pinpointing hotspots of infection and providing crucial data to inform disease control policies. He will employ a sophisticated simulation model to estimate transmission rates and case counts for each neighborhood and point of interest (POI) across the major pandemic waves in SC’s prominent metropolitan areas.