Dr. Amber L. Pearson

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

About Me

Amber L. Pearson

Dr. Pearson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography, Environment and Spatial Sciences at Michigan State University and an Adjunct Fellow in the Department of Public Health at the University of Otago. She completed her PhD in Geography and MPH in Global Health at the University of Washington, a MSc at Western Washington University and BA at University of North Texas. Prior to joining MSU, she was a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, and then a Research Fellow at the University of Otago.

Dr. Pearson is a health geographer with a focus on social justice and intersections between spatial and social features of neighborhoods. Specifically, her research relates to aspects of the neighborhood built, physical and social environment that may bolster opportunities for a healthy life, often in the face of socioeconomic adversity. Her overall research goal is to understand the interactions between humans and their neighborhoods to improve health and wellbeing while paying careful attention to health inequalities and environmental justice. Her work has been funded by NIH, NSF, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, American Association of Geographers, New Zealand (NZ) Ministry of Health, NZ Health Research Council, Michigan Department of Health & Human Services, MSU’s Clinical and Translational Science Initiative, Vice President of Research and Graduate Studies, Undergraduate Research Initiative and Water Science Network.

Her research has been featured in the Washington Post, the Guardian, and the BBC. In 2017, she was awarded Undergraduate Mentor of the Year from MSU. In 2018, she was awarded the Emerging Scholar in Health/Medical Geography from the American Association of Geographers.


July 20, 2023

Dr. Pearson and Dr. Ben Rybicki just received Cancer Research Pilot Project funding from the MSU-Henry Ford Health System collaboration. Their project is titled, "Differential Effects of Air Pollution on Inflammatory Responses by Race: A Pathway to Cancer Disparities" and will begin later this year. Dr. Pearson will be seeking a qualified applicant to assist in spatial data analysis! https://www.henryfordmsu.org/news/july-2023/07142023

Webinar on 17 July 2023 !!

Dr. Pearson is involved in an excellent webinar. MOHIP Webinar 7 Flyer

July 7, 2023

Dr. Pearson's research on the health benefits of contact with nature is featured in a National Geographic article titled, "Nature really is good medicine. Science can explain why." https://www.nationalgeographic.com/premium/article/power-blue-green-spaces-health-well-being-mental-health

April 2023


April, 2023

CJ Sivak, senior undergraduate student in the SHAC lab won the MSU Senior Class Council award for "Outstanding Research". We are so proud of them and their incredible accomplishments in research over the past four years. CJ developed a new way to quantify signs of care in our neighborhoods using Google Street View imagery. This is important because these signs of care provide important cues to residents, indicating more cohesion and perceived aesthetics. CJ is lead author on one publication titled "" and has another lead author publication in preparation now. CJ is indeed an outstanding researcher. We are so thrilled to have had you as part of the lab the last four years and we cannot wait to see what you accomplish next!

January 2023


January, 2023

Dr. Pearson attends workshop at University of Miami, hosted by Dr. Justin Stoler. The workshop was titled, "Causes, Consequences, and Measurement of Unpredictable Water Supplies: An Underlying Driver of Water Insecurity." The workshop brought together researchers from many disciplines including Engineering, Anthropology, Geography, Public Health/Epidemiology, and International Development and Policy. Over two days, researchers aimed to develop common cross-discipline language to understand intermittency, reliability, availability, and predictability as these terms relate to water insecurity. Researchers came with experience in rural and urban settings, in high, middle and low-income countries, and in piped and informal water systems. Keep an eye out for forthcoming research collaborations and publications from this workshop!

July 2021


July 29, 2021

Student at University of Miami, Eliza Stuart, presented her research titled “Spatial Analysis of Household Water Insecurity in Rural Uganda” mentored by Dr. Justin Stoler and Dr. Amber Pearson. Eliza is a University of Miami College of Arts & Sciences Summer Research Fellow and rising star! In her research, she found spatial heterogeneity in household water insecurity experiences, suggesting that single-solution interventions may not yield as many benefits as expected. Perhaps more tailored water-related interventions could account for diverse local and household needs, thereby reducing insecurity more equitably.  

July 2021

July 19, 2021

Dr. Pearson recently published a chapter titled, �The (socially distanced) circle of family, friends and allies: How COVID-19 is re-shaping social capital and new opportunities for research� in a new book edited by Andrews, Crooks, Pearce, and Messina.

The new book, published by Routledge is titled �COVID-19 and similar futures: Geographical perspectives, issues and agendas�.


To learn more, visit https://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783030701789


Dr. Pearson and Dr. Kirsten Beyer will be Guest Editors on a Special Issue in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

Dr. Pearson and Dr. Kirsten Beyer will be Guest Editors on a Special Issue in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health titled, “Impacts of the Neighborhood Environment on Cancer Prevention, Outcomes and Disparities”. This Special Issue is expected February 2021. If you are interested in submitting a manuscript or learning more, please visit:

Special Issue "Impacts of the Neighborhood Environment on Cancer Prevention, Outcomes and Disparities"

Dr. Pearson attended the "Connecting the Dots between Climate Change, Water Insecurity, and Migration" workshop held at the University of Miami

During March 2020, Dr. Pearson was invited to the "Connecting the Dots between Climate Change, Water Insecurity, and Migration” workshop hosted at the University of Miami. The workshop was a part of the HWISE research-coordinating network and was led by Dr. Justin Stoler, an associate professor of geography and public health sciences at the University of Miami. The workshop focused on analyzing how migration decisions may be linked to access to water and accelerated by climate change.


Curriculum vitae

Water Science Network

University of Otago

Google Scholar


MSU Cancer Research Network

Get in touch

Geography Building
Lab - Room 233A
673 Auditorium Rd., Room 231
East Lansing, MI 48824
(517) 432-7163