Dr. Amber L. Pearson

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

Student opportunities


Our lab conducts research on spatial dimensions of health. We study aspects of the built, physical and social environment that influence both physical and mental health. Undergraduate students in our lab gain hands-on experience with spatial and epidemiological research methods. Please see Current Projects for examples of our research.

For example, research assistants have helped assess spatial patterns in smokefree space legislation across the USA and the contexts in which children are exposed to 'blue spaces' (ie, water bodies) in New Zealand. Research assistants play an important role in the compilation of datasets, performing geospatial analyses and presenting results. Please see the News for examples of our presentations.

In addition, research assistants are encouraged to read broadly about the topics we research and about health geography generally. In monthly journal club meetings in the Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences we read student-selected articles related to health geography. We discuss these articles, both in terms of general issues that you might discuss in your classes, and in terms of the research we are actively conducting in the lab.

Research assistants can participate either as volunteers or for course credit (Geography 490). Occasionally, students have been funded through the Provost Undergraduate Research Initiative. Regardless of whether you are participating for credit or not, assistants are expected to contribute between six and nine hours each week, though the timing of these hours is usually very flexible. Research assistants are also expected to attend weekly lab meetings, which are typically held on Monday mornings.

Dr. Pearson is also available to supervise honors projects. In general, we recommend that you gain experience working in the lab before working on your honors project in the lab. That way, you can obtain experience with the methods and research topics, which makes it much easier to think about and design a study for your project. So if you would like to work with Dr. Pearson as an honors student, the best way to do this is to first volunteer in the lab!

Dr. Pearson has two spots for Undergraduate Students to work in the lab. If you are interest in volunteering or working in the lab, please contact Dr. Pearson via email.


Check out the lab website, SHAC Lab, to learn more.


Accepting applicants for Fall 2022!

Dr. Pearson is accepting students for admission to the Geography Department at Michigan State University in the Fall of 2019. Students who work in Dr. Pearson's lab gain exposure to research on health geography, along with a variety of research methods that can be used to investigate aspects of the built, physical and social environment which influence health.

For details on the application process for the Geography Department, please visit http://geo.msu.edu/graduate-information/apply/. Assistantships in Geography are awarded on the basis of academic performance and competency. An evaluation by the Graduate Program Director and the Geography Chairperson is required prior to the decision on continued financial assistance.

Aid in the form of an assistantship is available for up to two years for Master's students and four years for PhD students, at the discretion of the department. A renewal decision is made each year, and all assistantships are dependent upon available funds. Teaching assistantships funded through the department are awarded by the Chairperson. Recommendations for these awards are made by the Graduate Program Director. Research assistantships funded by the Department of Geography are awarded by the Chairperson, as recommended by the faculty member(s) responsible for the research. There are a number of funding opportunities through which graduate research assistants have been or may be funded in the lab, including:

Some PhD applicants can apply for a waiver for applications to the Big 10 schools. See the link below for details. The waiver requests are due Nov. 15. http://www.btaa.org/resources-for/students/freeapp/introduction

If you are interested in having Dr. Pearson on your Master's or PhD committee, it is a good idea to contact her in advance. Typically, students email their detailed research idea, current CV, and published writing examples (when available). Next, a telephone or in-person meeting is often scheduled for students for which adequate overlap in research interests are identified. Feel free to contact Dr. Pearson with additional questions.

Lab Tours

If you are interested in touring and learning more about what happens in the Pearson Lab, please feel free to contact Dr. Pearson to set up a date and time.

Get in touch

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