Profile: Melinda Meade

Professor Melinda Meade, Department of Geography, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC, USA, and adjunct professor of epidemiology and a Fellow of the Carolina Population Center. Melinda specializes in disease ecology. Her interests include infectious disease, cardiovascular disease and stroke, health implications of the growth of megacities and migration. She organized and was the first chair of the MGSG (1979).

Professor Melinda Meade was born in New York City and grew up in Hicksville, Long Island, New York, and did her BA nearby at Hofstra College. She was valedictorian of her high school and college classes, but then changed her life by volunteering for the Peace Corps instead of going to graduate school in history at Columbia. She taught English for two years in a small town in northeastern Thailand, six hours by elephant from the railhead in the provincial capital. There she discovered the complexities of development and a view of the world from another culture, and witnessed the emergence of a deadly new disease, dengue hemorrhagic fever. She then went to graduate school in geography to study Asia, population change, and health promotion and disease ecology. She did her masters at Michigan State, 1970, with John Hunter and her doctorate at Hawaii,1974, with Warwick Armstrong. Both specialized in medical geography. Her dissertation research involved two years of field work in land development/population resettlement schemes in Malaysia on the dimensions of population movement and effects on disease ecology. While teaching at UCLA, at the University of Georgia, and since 1978 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, this has been her constant interest. She is theorizing the emergence of a qualitatively different state of disease ecology in the urban population of the future.

After organizing the Medical Geography Specialty Group in 1979, Melinda served 15 years as chair or member of the MGSG board. She is the author with John Florin and Wilbert Gesler of the first edition of Medical Geography from Guilford Press, 1988, with Robert Earickson of the second edition of Medical Geography, 2000, and a third edition with Michael Emch is under construction. At Carolina, she is also a member of the Carolina Environmental Program and its Ecology Curriculum, and a member of the Southeast Asian group of the Carolina Asian Studies Center. In 1991 she received the University s award for excellence in inspirational teaching.

Melinda may be contacted at

Updated: March 2007