Michael Emch, PhD

Department of Epidemiology
Department of Geography
Carolina Population Center


Dr. Michael Emch is W.R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Geography and Epidemiology. He is also a Fellow of the Carolina Population Center. His expertise is in infectious disease ecology, spatial epidemiology, neighborhood determinants of health, and geographic information science applications of public health. He leads the Spatial Health Research Group which conducts research that explores spatio-temporal patterns of disease, primarily infectious diseases of the developing world. He examines diverse topics such as the role of population-environment drivers in pathogen evolution, how social connectivity contributes to disease incidence, and using environmental indicators to predict disease outbreaks. For more information see the Spatial Health Research Group website at spatialhealth.web.unc.edu/.

Teaching Interests

Dr. Emch teaches several courses in the Department of Geography, mostly about spatial components of health. His course syllabi are available at https://emch.web.unc.edu/courses/.

Research Activities

NSF PIRE: Energy Poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa

Incorporating geographic context into randomized controlled trials: RTS,S malaria and the oral cholera vaccines

Finding Safe Drinking Water to Mitigate Arsenic Contamination: Tube Wells, Storage, and Diarrhea

Malaria and HIV Disease Surveillance Using Molecular and Geographic Methods in the Congo

Service Activities

Editorial Board, Health & Place, (2014 to 2015, 2018-Present).

Editorial Board, SSM - Population Health, (2015 to Present).

Associate Editor, Health & Place (2015 to 2018).

Advisory Editor, Medical Geography, Social Science & Medicine (2005 to 2020).

Practice Activities

Member, Faculty Advisory Committee, Institute for the Environment (2012 to 2016)

Member, Carolina Population Center Training Committee (8/06 to 12/10 and 2/12 to 2/16)

Chair, Department of Geography (7/13 to 7/19)

Chair, Review Committee, Center for Urban and Regional Studies and Director of the Center (2015)


  • PhD, Geography (Medical), Michigan State University, 1998
  • MA, Geography, Miami University of Ohio, 1992
  • BA, Biology, Alfred University, 1987