Profile: Florence Margai

Florence M. Margai, Associate Dean of the Graduate School, and Professor, Department of Geography, Binghamton University (SUNY), Binghamton, New York, USA. Florence’s research interests revolve around the use of geospatial methodologies in the mapping and assessment of environmental health risks and negative health outcomes.

Florence Margai was born and raised in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and graduated from Fourah Bay College with a BA (Honors) in geography. She then took up residence at Kent State University, Ohio (USA), where she earned her MA (1987) and PhD (1991) degrees in geography. From 1991 to 1994, she taught in the Department of Geography and Geological Sciences at Hunter College, New York City. Florence moved to Binghamton University in 1994, where she teaches a number of courses that reflect her areas of specialization. These include Advanced Statistics and Spatial Analysis, Environmental Hazards and Health, Environmental Analysis, Health Geographies, and Environmental Health Disparities.

Florence’s past and current research projects include studies of Malaria Morbidity and Treatment Approaches in West Africa, Food Insecurity and Childhood health in Burkina Faso, Toxic exposures and Low birth weights, and the linkages between Lead poisoning and Learning Disabilities in urban communities. In the early 1990s, she initiated work on childhood lead exposure patterns in Binghamton, NY, and the implications for childhood development and learning. More recently, she has completed a collaborative project involving the use of geo-statistical approaches to evaluate the prevalence of pediatric blood lead poisoning in Chicago, IL, assess the spatiotemporal dynamics of the disease, and identify the racial and ethnic profiles of high risk communities. Florence has also completed extensive research on environmental inequities, the disproportionate distribution of hazardous substances in low income and minority communities, and disparate outcomes in health status and disease. She has worked with several non-profit organizations in the U.S. and Africa to assist with the geographic targeting of vulnerable population groups for disease intervention and health promotional campaigns. Examples include the INDEPTH Network (Ghana), the Food Bank of the Southern Tier, and MALAMED (Sierra Leone). In all of these studies, she has employed geo-data tools and technologies such as spatial statistics and GIS for comprehensive health risk assessments.

Florence has served previously as Chair of the A.A.G. African Specialty Group, and as editor of the African Geographical Review. She has authored and co-edited three books and several publications in peer-reviewed journals including the Professional Geographer, Archives of Environmental and Occupational Health, Journal of World Health and Population, and Social Science Medicine. Her latest book is entitled Environmental Health Hazards and Social Justice: Geographic Perspectives of Race and Class Disparities (2010, Earthscan Ltd.)

Florence is married and has two daughters. She may be contacted at margai

Updated: February 2011