Through his work at the Geohealth Lab at CRSSA, Dr. David Tulloch integrates the geographic information sciences and human health research into landscape architecture. In 2010 Dr. Tulloch was an invited participant at the inaugural Geodesign Summit, at which the overlap between landscape architecture, planning, GIS, geography, and computer science, were reconceptualized as a single field of work. As an early leader in this emerging area of geodesign, he is widely published on the subject (Tulloch 2012, 2013, 2016, 2017, 2019). He organized and led a geodesign panel for the 2013 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).
The same advances in geospatial technologies that have empowered the geodesign community (e.g., interactive mapping, improved user interfaces, cloud computing, mobile mapping on personal devices, open source tools) also create new opportunities for integrating public participation in planning and design processes. Seeking to contribute to the conversation about such platforms, he served on the Organizing Committee for the first three Public Participatory GIS (PPGIS) Conferences (2002, 2003, 2004), including the inaugural meeting hosted at Rutgers. His pioneering role in both PPGIS and VGI were recognized with my successful applications for funded participation in their respective specialist meetings (1998 and 2007).
Human health has become a primary area of application for these topics. With funding from NIH and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, he has spent over a decade as part of a multidisciplinary team examining linkages between the food and physical activity environment and patterns of childhood obesity. Collaborating with a team at Rutgers’ Center for State Health Policy and Arizona State University, he has inventoried the changing urban landscapes of 5 New Jersey cities across nearly a decade, mapping changes in the food environment and activity environments available to children and then comparing those with the obesity measures and locations of over 1,500 young residents. This “team science” approach was essential to prove the positive impact for children living within a half mile of parks or the detrimental impact for children within ¼ mile of corner stores (DeWeese et al. 2013; Ohri-Vachaspati et al. 2013; Tang et al. 2014; Lorts et al. 2019; Ohri-Vachaspati et al. 2019).
Helping expand and formalize that geospatial health research, he developed a structured research team called the Geohealth Lab group within the larger (and quite supportive) setting of the Grant F. Walton Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis. Not only does the lab support research, but it also hosted workshops and engaged community groups in New Jersey. Today the lab group has “alumni” that include a professional community planner and a Ph.D. student studying citizen science GIS at UNC-Chapel Hill and a current undergraduate whose experiences at the lab helped her spend the summer of 2019 in Columbia University’s Biostatistics Epidemiology Summer Training (BEST) Diversity Program.