Carrie Dolan
Author: Marsha Hargette

Carrie Dolan

Spatial Epidemiologist

Compassionate Cartography

meet carrie

Carrie Dolan—an explorer who uses maps to improve the health of people around the world—is a spatial epidemiologist, researcher, and professor who has created a roadmap for 23 global health interventions across 150 countries. Her unique approach improves decision-making by integrating the firsthand knowledge of community partners with disaggregated data and techniques from public health, economics, and geography. Dolan, who holds a PhD from the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, is the Director of IGNITE, a multidisciplinary research lab based at William & Mary’s Global Research Institute.

Compassionate Cartography
Nominated by: Kenneth W. Kambis FN'11
Class of 2023 Location Virginia, USA

Half the world lacks access to essential health services, such as childhood immunizations or care during pregnancy, which means 100 million people are pushed into extreme poverty by health expenses. The challenge is to determine the most effective allocation of limited global health resources. There are not enough to go around, so policymakers must become selective about which patients receive care or which diseases get treated. I hope for the future that access to care in hard-to-reach areas is improved through more targeted resource allocation and that maps can be one part of that puzzle.

I made my first map while living in a poor Jamaican neighborhood, using a flashlight tightly gripped between my teeth, which provided just enough light to copy the waypoints from my field notes to my computer before the laptop battery died. A powerful tool, the map allowed me to communicate with the community, the health workers, and the minister of health in a way that made sense to everyone. From there, I set out to use maps to highlight gaps in public health resources in hard-to-reach areas—a skill I began developing more than two decades ago during my work with AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps, which was foundational.

“Using data and science to connect mothers and children to lifesaving public health resources is my meaning and purpose.”

- Carrie Dolan

My use of maps is innovative because I combine them with methods from various disciplines, including public health, economics, and geography. In addition, I also make the maps in collaboration with strong community partners, which increases the likelihood that the maps are accurate and will be used by the community when I am gone. The maps I make are to assure resources reach as many kids as possible. That’s why I work. Using data and science to connect mothers and children to lifesaving public health resources is my meaning and purpose.

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