Dr. Deborah S.K. Thomas

Disasters, Environmental Health, Global Health, Human-environment Interaction
• Professor • Department Chair
McEniry 317

Deborah Thomas, PhD, is Professor and Chair in the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences. I am honored to lead an interdisciplinary, complex, and vibrant department that meshes with my background and values as an educator and scholar. I arrived at UNC Charlotte in August 2018 from the University of Colorado Denver, where I was a faculty member in geography and environmental sciences for 18 years and department chair for the last 3-1/2 years. I was also one of the founding faculty of the Colorado School of Public Health where I had a secondary appointment for over 10 years.

I specialize in hazards and health geography with more than 25 years of experience in the social science application of geographic information science & technology (GIS&T). My teaching & research interests focus on issues of vulnerability/resilience/equity as they relate to natural and human-induced hazards and public health, commonly emphasizing the role of technology, particularly GIS, in assessing and evaluating the intersection of human-physical systems and the built environment. Around these themes, I have taught many classes at all levels, mentored undergraduate, master’s and PhD students, published in numerous journals, and am co-editor of a book entitled Social Vulnerability to Disasters. In July 2020, I completed three years on the American Association of Geographers (AAG) National Council and was Treasurer and a member of the Executive Committee of the organization for the last two of those years. Along with US-based activities, I was a Fulbright Scholar to Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey in 2005. I continue to work in Tanzania as part of a 13-year partnership with the Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences in Mwanza, Tanzania.