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University of Colorado Denver College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

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Faculty & Staff Directory

Deborah S.K. Thomas, PhD


Associate Professor

E-mail: Deborah Thomas
Office Location: NC 5030-A
Phone: 303-556-5292
Fax: 303-556-6197
Office hours: M 2-3:30 p.m.
Areas of Expertise:
Environmental Hazards and Disasters, Health Geography, Geographic Information Systems, Environmental Health, Environmental Policy, Environmental Planning ​

Education & Degrees

PhD, Geography, University of South Carolina, 1999

MA, Geography, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, 1995

BA, Geography with Honors, University of Kansas, 1993

Bio

Dr. Deborah Thomas is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Denver, where she also has secondary appointments in the Department of Environmental & Occupational Health in the Colorado School of Public Health and in the Department of Emergency Medicine in the School of Medicine. She specializes in hazards and health geography, and has 20 years of experience working with geographic information systems (GIS) in a variety of social science application areas, including disaster management and health. Her research and teaching interests focus on issues of vulnerability/resilience and equities as they relate to both natural and human-induced hazards and health outcomes. Around these themes, she has published in numerous journals and was co-editor of the recently published book entitled Social Vulnerability. Collaborating with people in various disciplines and in local/state agencies defines her work (for example, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Denver Health, Tri-County Health, Kaiser-Permanente and FEMA). Starting in 2005, she had the opportunity to expand these collaborative networks internationally when she was a Fulbright Scholar to Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey. For the last four years, she has co-directed the UCD Tanzania Field School, which is an experience that incorporates students into her current research there on health issues using a vulnerability framework. She is currently an appointed member of the Disaster Roundtable at the National Academies of Sciences, the chair of the Hazards Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers, and an Associate Editor of the Natural Hazards Review. She also co-organizes the Colorado Health GIS User Group with Mark Egbert, GIS Coordinator at CDPHE (http://emaps.dphe.state.co.us/gis/chug.html).

Current projects include:

  • Assessing the effects of living at moderate and high altitude on health outcomes.
  • Utilizing GIS for the study of physical activity: individual and environmental mechanisms of PA change. Subcontract from Kaiser Permanente from an NIH Grant.
  • Program to award dissertation fellowships in hazards, risk and disasters. NSF funded subcontract. 
  • Health mapping in Tanzania for informing health evidence-based decision-making.
  • Exploring health sector capacity in Haiti in the aftermath of the January, 2010 earthquake. NSF funded.

Select Publications

2010. Estabrooks, Paul A., Russ E. Glasgow, Stan Xu, David A. Dzewaltowski, Rebecca E. Lee, Deborah Thomas, Fabio A. Almeida, Amy N. Thayer, Renae L. Smith-Ray. "Building a multiple modality, theory-based physical activity intervention: The development of CardiACTION" Psychology of Sport and Exercise (2010) 1-8.

2009. Sebert, Anne K.Kuhlmann, J. Brett, D. Thomas, S. Sain. "Exploration of Social and Built Environment Factors Associated with Pedestrians/Motor Vehicle Collision in Denver" American Journal of Public Health. 99(9): 1631-1637.

2009. Phillips, Brenda, D. Thomas, A. Fothergill, and Lynn Blinn-Pike (editors), Social Vulnerability to Disasters, CRC Press. August 2009.

2009. Scandlyn, J., C.N. Simon, D.S.K. Thomas, and J. Brett. "Theoretical Framing of Worldviews, Values, and Structural Dimensions of Disasters," Chapter 2 in Phillips, Brenda, D. Thomas, A. Fothergill, and Lynn Blinn-Pike (eds), Social Vulnerability to Disasters, CRC Press. August 2009.

2009. Thomas, D.S.K., E.A. Davis, and A. Clive. "Health," Chapter 9 in Phillips, Brenda, D. Thomas, A. Fothergill, and Lynn Blinn-Pike (eds), Social Vulnerability to Disasters, CRC Press. August 2009.

2009. Thomas, D.S.K., P.K. Stephens, and J. Goldsmith. “Meansuring and Conveying Social Vulnerability,” Chapter 14 in Phillips, Brenda, D. Thomas, A. Fothergill, and Lynn Blinn-Pike (eds), Social Vulnerability to Disasters, CRC Press. August 2009.

2008. Wilhelmi, O.V, M.J. Hayes, and D.S.K. Thomas. “Managing Drought in Mountain Resort Communities: Colorado’s Experiences” Disaster Prevention and Management. 15(5):672-680.

2006. Thomas, D.S.K., K. Ertugay, and S. Kemec. “The Role of Geographic Information Systems/Remote Sensing in Disaster Management” in Handbook of Disaster Research. Rodriguez, H., Quarantelli, E.L., and Dynes, R. (Eds.). New York: Springer.

2006. Choudhuri, J.A., L.G. Ogden, D.S.K. Thomas, J. Ruttenber, J.K. Todd, and E.A.F. Simoes “Effect of Altitude on Hospitalizations for Respiratory Synctyial Virus Infection.” Pediatrics, Vol. 117 No. 2 February 2006, pp. 349-356.

Courses Taught

ENVS 1042, Introduction to Environment and Society
GEOG 2202, Natural Hazards
GEOG 4/5230, Hazards Mitigation and Vulnerability Assessment
GEOG 4/5235, GIS Applications in the Health Sciences
GEOG 4/5335, Contemporary Environmental Issues
GEOG 4/5710, Disasters, Climate Change, and Health
GEOG 4995/5995