Profile: Seth E. Spielman

Dr. Seth Spielman, Associate Director of the Spatial Structures in the Social Sciences Initiative (S4), and Lecturer, Department of Sociology, Brown University, Providence, RI, USA. Seth’s research has focused on urban health disparities, proceeding two separate lines of inquiry, methodological and theoretical work in GI Science, and applied community-based work.

Seth Spielman earned his BA (Geography and Communications) at Macalester College (1997), his MS in Urban Planning at Columbia University (2001), and his Ph.D. (Geography) at State University of New York at Buffalo (2008). His early applied research occurred in the Harlem Children’s Zone Asthma Initiative from 2002-2006. During that period, he also worked to improve access to oral health services in northern Manhattan and to understand the patterns of motor vehicle injury and reduce fatalities through provision of emergency medical services. He has published on this work in the Journal of the American Planning Association, Special Care in Dentistry, and Accident analysis and Prevention.

Seth is interested in the use of GI Technologies to observe and study cities. With regard to health, he is particularly interested in spatially explicit models of neighborhood effects. He has a forthcoming article (with Enki Yoo) on this subject in Social Science and Medicine. He has also published on this subject, though not from a health perspective, in Computers, Environment, and Urban Systems (with Jean-Claude Thill). He is currently working as an investigator on the National Children’s Study in Bristol County, MA and Providence County, RI. The National Children’s Study is a large scale longitudinal study of children’s health that will track children from before birth (some even pre-conception) for 20 years. The study plan ambitiously calls for a rigorous program of collection environmental and biological samples and surveys at regular intervals. The Children’s Study is unparalleled in scope and has enormous potential to shed light on the causes and consequences of health disparities. He is also working with a team at Columbia University to develop a Systems Science proposal to the NIH that develops a novel way to target specific health interventions to vulnerable populations.

Seth may be contacted at; his website is

Updated: February 2009