Alex Hill, PhD Spotlight

Alex Hill, PhD Spotlight

Alex Hill, PhD Spotlight

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Alex Hill is a current PhD student working on his dissertation about "Naming and Claiming Space in the City" and specific responses from community groups to define their own space. He graduated from Wayne State with his MA in Medical Anthropology in 2016. His Master's thesis '"Treat Everybody Right": Multidimensional Foodways in Detroit' sought to uncover the contradictions behind calling Detroit a 'food desert' and understand the lived experience of Detroiters. His thesis work was also recently published in the Journal of Food Systems and Community Development.
 
Currently, Alex is the GIS Director in the Biostatistical Epidemiology Research Design group at the Center for Translational Science and Clinical Research Innovation at Wayne State University, where he acts as a GIS analyst for the PHOENIX project. They are using big data to look at the community health risk and Alex offers an anthropological perspective and ensures data visualizations and technological tools are designed to match the user's needs and preferences.
 
"In such a data-focused field there is a tendency to ignore qualitative data and remove nuances as if they are nuisances," Alex says. "Anthropology has given me a critical and human-centered perspective when working with data that pulls me towards considering ethics and pushing for human context to accompany data and numbers."
 
His previous experience over the past 10 years mapping the city has helped prepare him for this task and helped him to write his forthcoming book "Detroit in 50 Maps" from Belt Publishing. In the book, Alex will merge data with its human context to deconstruct the motor city and show new perspectives of Detroit.