Research Focus



Graduate & Student Opportunies


Selected Publications


Health Geography Lab



Dr. Lea Berrang Ford


Assistant Professor, Health Geography
Department of Geography
McGill University
805 Sherbrooke Street West,
Montreal, QC H3A 2K6
Telphone: +1 (514) 398-4944


PhD Epidemiology (2006) Department of Population Medicine, University of Guelph, Canada and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Nairobi, Kenya (Graduate Fellow). Topic of research: Temporal and spatial analysis of sleeping sickness spread in Uganda from 1970-2003, and the role of civil conflict and environmental change in disease risk.

MSc Environmental Change and Management (2001), Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, UK

BSc (Env) (Geography) (2000), Department of Geography, University of Guelph, Canada

Example spatial analysis and health geography research maps:
Vector velocit map of sleeping sickness spread

NDVI change, 1986-95 in SE Uganda

Band 3 change, 1995-2001 in SE Uganda
Historical sleeping sickness incidence, 1905-20 Cluster analysis and sleeping sickness incidence, 1998-2003

Cruise travel density on the west coast of North America

Dr. Lea Berrang Ford is an Assistant Professor (Health Geography) in the Department of Geography at McGill Univerity, Montreal (Canada). Dr. Berrang Ford is both a geographer and an epidemiologist, specializing in spatial health analysis of infectious disease and environmental change. Prior to joining McGill, Lea worked with the Public Health Agency of Canada in Saint Hyacinthe (QC) as an environmental epidemiologist and medical geographer, specializing in spatial health analysis, vector-borne zoonotic disease mapping, and environmental health research.

Click here to view full CV

Click here to view research photos from East Africa

Click here to view Arctic research photos from Nunavik (QC)


Research Focus

Health geography, specializing in the areas of infectious disease, environmental change, ecosystem health, and spatial and quantitative tools for health analysis.

1. Emerging infectious diseases, environmental change and global health
2. Eco health and environmental systems analysis
3. Spatial statistics, GIS, Remote Sensing, and Epidemiologic analysis for health research
4. Geography and health in Africa

Current Projects

Health adaptation to climate change in Canada and globally: Research, including mapping and modelling, of the impacts of climatic and environmental changes on vector-borne and infectious diseases in Canada, in collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Canada. Recent research focuses on adaptation to the health impacts of climate change in other countries and/or globally.

Targeting and structuring sleeping sickness prevention and control in Uganda: This research focuses on 1) identifying high-priority areas of emerging sleeping sickness risk in Uganda using GIS, remote sensing, and field data collection tools, and 2) Identifying constraints, incentives and opportunities for community-based sleeping sickness prevention and control activities in Ugandan villages.

Environmental change and infectious disease in Peru: In collaboration with the McGill Global Health Program, projects include analyses of environmental and climatic change on infectious disease incidence over the past 50 years (including statistical, spatial, and temporal analyses), as well as spatial analyses of multi-drug resistant and drug-resistant tuberculosis incidence and distribution in Lima.


Previous Projects

Spatial and temporal epidemiology of sleeping sickness in SE Uganda: Doctoral work on the spatial and temporal determinants of sleeping sickness in south-eastern Uganda, in association with the International Livestock Research Institute (Nairobi, Kenya) and University of Guelph (Canada) (2002 - 2006).

Understanding Norovirus transmission on Canada's West Coast: Study of Norovirus transmission on the west coast, in conjunction with the Public Health Agency of Canada, FWZI Division (2004 - 2006).

Livelihoods and Ecosystems International Workshop Series - CIDA: Workshop facilitation & development, with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the University of Guelph (2005).

Public perceptions of climate change impacts on human health in the UK: Masters thesis in Environmental Change and Management, University of Oxford, UK (2000 - 2001).

Water on Mars? Aerial photo interpretation of Martian fluvial features: Aerial photography interpretation, in association with the University of Oxford Department of Geography and NASA (2001).

Watershed health and community management in the Hagan Creek-Kennes Watershed, Sidney, BC: Community watershed project facilitation, in association with the Institute of Ocean Sciences (Sidney, BC), and the Eco-research Chair of Environmental Law and Policy, University of Victoria (1998 - 1999).



GEOG 202 (Winter) Statistics and Spatial Analysis
Exploratory data analysis, univariate descriptive and inferential statistics, non-parametric statistics, correlation and simple regression. Problems associated with analysing spatial data such as the 'modifiable areal unit problem' and spatial autocorrelation. Statistics measuring spatial pattern in point, line and polygon data.

GEOG 403 (Fall) Global Health and Environmental Change
Major themes and contemporary case studies in global health and environmental change. Focus on understanding global trends in emerging infectious disease from social, biophysical, and geographical perspectives, and critically assessing the health implications of environmental change in different international contexts.

GEOG 503 (Fall) Advanced Topics in Health Geography
This course provides a critical review of advanced topics in health geography, including perspectives ecosystem health, epidemiology, chronic and infectious disease research, and environmental and social determinants of health. Seminars will focus on critical appraisal of conceptual and methodological approaches in health geography research. Students will develop independent project topics throughout the course, and have the opportunity to focus on selected themes in health geography.

Canadian Field Studies in Africa (Winter) Environment & Health in Africa

Graduate & Student Opportunities

Undergraduate students interested in research opportunities are encouraged to contact me at any time regarding:

  • Honours thesis projects
  • Independent study topics
  • Summer research opportunities
Graduate students should aim to contact me as early in the fall of 2009 as possible to pursue joint funding applications.

I am accepting inquiries from students for the following graduate topics for September 2010 admission:

  • Modeling of climate change impacts on mosquito-borne diseases in Canada (PhD only): This project will involve advanced statistical and spatial modeling of climate projections and mosquito distributions in Canada, in collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Canada. Methodologies used will include statistics, GIS, spatial analysis, ecological modeling, remote sensing, and research in entomology and climate science. Qualified students will need to be quantitatively-inclined, with interest in GIS, spatial analysis, climate change, and entomology. Student must also have explicit interest in epidemiology, health geography, and environmental determinants of health. This project has partial funding available, but student(s) will be required to seek and acquire independent funding. Qualified Canadian students are encouraged to contact me as soon as possible (before early Oct. 2009) regarding fall applications for NSERC doctoral funding
  • Modeling of the spatial ecology and behaviour of mosquitoes in Canada (MSc only): This project will focus on estimating bite rates and biting habits of mosquitoes in Canada, and will involve extensive surveying and field work. Qualified students should be quantitatively-inclined, with interest in social surveying and entomology. Project will involve collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Canada. This project is appropriate for students will an interest in entomology from a broader environmental and social context. Student(s) will be encouraged to seek matching funding.
  • Adapting to the health impacts of climate change globally and/or in Uganda (PhD preferred): This work will be focused either on Uganda or on a global review, and will involve a systematic realist review of approaches to adapting to the health impacts of climate change. Qualified students should have excellent skills in qualitative methods and research approaches. Knowledge of climate change science, infectious disease, population or global health, and adaptation theory are an asset. This project currently has limited funding. Students are encouraged to contact me early to prepare a joint funding application. Students interested in Ugandan work will be required to seek additional funding for international field work.

International doctoral students pay equivalent fees to Canadian students at McGill. Masters-level international students, however, are required to pay higher student fees. Foreign masters applicants should take this into account when applying, and consider what sources of additional funding can be secured.

Interested students are welcome to contact me. Please consider the following in advance:

  • Review the range of topics I am willing to supervise, and become familiar with my lab’s research focus.
  • Send with your initial email query, an electronic copy of your academic transcript, a copy of your CV, and a paragraph regarding your research interests. Please also include your last TOEFL score if you do not have English as your first language.
  • Note that McGill encourages students to find their own funding. Please see the graduate and postdoctoral studies webpage: http://www.mcgill.ca/gps/ for possible funding information, and include in your email how you propose to fund your studies.
  • For information regarding admission procedures to the Department of Geography, please see the Department Graduate webpage: http://www.geog.mcgill.ca/graduate.html


Selected Publications

Berrang-Ford, L., O. Berke, and S. Sweeney (In press) Sleeping sickness in south-eastern Uganda: a spatio-temporal analysis of disease risk, 1970-2003. Vector-borne and Zoonotic Diseases.

Hongoh, V, L. Berrang-Ford, NH Ogden, R Lindsay, ME Scott, H Artsob (In press) A review of environmental determinants and risk factors for avian-associated mosquito arboviruses in Canada. Biodiversity.

Ford, J, T Pearce, J Prno, F Duerden, L Berrang-Ford, M Beaumier, and T Smith (2009) Perceptions of climate change risks in primary resource use industries: a survey of the Canadian mining sector. Regional Environmental Change, Early on-line release.

Enfield, G., D.B. Ryves, K. Mills, and L. Berrang-Ford (2009) The gloomy forebodings of this dread disease: climate, environment and sleeping sickness in East Africa around the turn of the twentieth century. Geographical Journal. On-line early release.

Berrang-Ford, L. (2009) Climate change and health in Canada. McGill Journal of Medicine 12(1):78-84.

Ford, J., and L. Berrang-Ford (2009) Food insecurity in Igloolik, Nunavut: A baseline study. Polar Record 45(234):225-236.

Goldhar, C. Ford, J., and Berrang Ford, L. (2009) Food security in western Greenland: A case study from Qeqertarsuaq in Sacred Lanscapes. J Oakes, R Riewe, R ten Bruggencate, and A Cogswell (eds). Aboriginal Issues Press: Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Berrang-Ford, L, D. MacLean, T. Gyorkos, J. Ford, N. Ogden (2009) Revisiting climate change and malaria in Canada: a systems approach. Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Infectious Disease 2009 (ID 385487):1-13.

Berrang-Ford (2007) Civil conflict and sleeping sickness in Africa in general and Uganda in particular. Conflict and Health 1:6.

Berrang-Ford, L., O. Berke, L. Abdelrahman, D. Waltner-Toews, and J. McDermott (2006) Spatial analysis of sleeping sickness, South-eastern Uganda, 1970-2003. Emerging Infectious Diseases 12(5):813-20. Click here to view abstract.

Berrang-Ford, L., M. Odiit, F. Maiso, D. Waltner-Toews, and  J. McDermott (2006) Sleeping sickness in Uganda: revisiting historical distributions, 1905-1920. African Health Sciences 6(4):223-231. Click here to view abstract.

Berrang-Ford, L., and D. Noble (2006) Climate change and health in Canadian municipalities. Environmental Health Review 50(4):109-115.

Berrang-Ford, L., D. Waltner-Toews, D. Charron, M. Odiit, J. McDermott, and B. Smit (2005) Sleeping sickness in southeastern Uganda: a systems approach. EcoHealth 2(3):1-12. Click here to view abstract.



Contact Information

Department of Geography

McGill University

805 Sherbrooke Street West

Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3A 2K6

phone: (514) 398-4111 fax: (514) 398-7437

Undergraduate Email

Graduate Email

Last updated July 30, 2013