Profile: Karen Smoyer Tomic

Dr. Karen Smoyer Tomic Outcomes Research Manager, HealthCore (a wholly owned subsidiary of WellPoint, Inc.) and Adjunct Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Delaware, USA. Karen’s research interests focus on environment and health.

Karen Smoyer Tomic received her PhD in Geography from the University of Minnesota and both her MA in Geography and BA in Biology and Geography from the University of Delaware. Karen s expertise lies in environment and health, focusing on how people navigate and negotiate space and place via the physical, built, and social environments. Related interests include population and environmental health disparities, health promotion, and mixed research methods. After ten years in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Alberta (Canada), Karen has returned ‘home’ to Delaware. As a small state, there are opportunities for transforming research into policy to develop sustainable communities and improve population health. Karen is a board member of the Delaware Cancer Consortium’s Environmental Committee and served for two years as Health Committee Chair of the Pencader Hundred Community Center, a local non-profit dedicated to empowering low and moderate income families in exurban New Castle County. Her work with these groups has contributed to a state-funded investigation of a cancer cluster in Sussex County, and implementation of a neighborhood development plan for a low income community. Working for the research arm of WellPoint, one of the nation’s largest health insurance companies, Karen also has a firsthand opportunity to apply her research in environmental health to improving health at the national level through policy and industry change, and by bringing Geography into the health care and health outcomes industries. Karen s latest work includes serving as project lead on FDA-sponsored activities to develop new methods of vaccine safety surveillance that can identify non-prespecified adverse events. This has provided an exciting opportunity to work with leading biostatisticians and epidemiologists to apply cutting-edge statistical methodologies to developing an automated way of detecting safety signals within a great deal of background noise.

Karen’s recent publications appear as invited book chapters in Blackwell Companion to Environmental Geography and Distributional Impacts of Climate Change and Natural Disasters: Concepts and Cases; and as peer-reviewed publications in Health Place, Environmental Management, and BMC Public Health. Manuscripts also are currently under review in Environmental Health Perspectives and Cancer.

Karen may be reached at

Updated: January 2010