Jessica is passionate about research, education and outreach. During her undergraduate studies at Queen’s University, geography became an avenue for Jessica to critically consider and understand the social and environmental contexts of health issues. She is interested in the complexities of person-place relationships, particularly how the built environment influences health and wellbeing. Jessica received her Bachelor of Arts Honors in Geography (2010) and Bachelor of Education (2011).
Jessica pursued graduate studies in order to investigate, address and educate others about geographies of health. She received a Graduate School Fellowship to begin studies in the Department of Geography, Environment and Society at the University of Minnesota. Jessica received her M.A. (2013) and was awarded the Peter Gould Master’s Paper Award in recognition of her work in health geography and aging.
Jessica advanced to the Ph.D. to further pursue research in geographical and environmental gerontology. Jessica received the President’s Student Leadership and Service Award for collaborations with the City of Minneapolis Department of Health and Neighborhood Health Source organization. She incorporated a doctoral minor in gerontology to further investigate the complex interplay of personal and local contextual factors affecting the welfare of older adults. In recognition of her work, she received an Interdisciplinary Doctoral Fellowship, Department of Geography TA of the Year, National Science Foundation grant, and Graduate School Fellowship. Her publications include articles in Health & Place, The Professional Geographer, Social Science & Medicine, The Gerontologist, and Ageing & Society. Jessica received her Ph.D. in June 2018.
Jessica is currently a postdoctoral research fellow in the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. She collaborates with an interdisciplinary team to identify environmental factors linked to changes in cognitive function, and is developing a new area of applied clinical geography. Jessica’s primary professional goals are to help diverse people attain a higher quality of life through community-engaged research, and advance strategies for healthy and inclusive lifelong communities.
Jessica is also co-author of a popular science book examining aging and lifelong wellbeing through the environment closest in: our microbes. The Whole-Body Microbiome (2019), co-authored with her microbiologist father Brett Finlay, examines how we might harness the microbes everywhere in and around us to enhance our health and longevity.
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2016: Visiting Scholar
2014-2018: Doctor of Philosophy
2011-2013: Master of Arts
2006-2011 Bachelor of Arts Honors (2010) and Bachelor of Education (2011)