Office hours: Professor Gordon McCord

The GPS faculty member opens up about some of the dearest objects that adorn his office, painting a picture of his professional backstory and personal interests

By Rachel Hommel | GPS News

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A humanitarian and policy advocate, Gordon McCord’s office displays a rich background highlighting his work on economic development, public health and the environment. As a global leader, McCord’s office is adorned with a spread of disciplines, each with a unique memory.

Peek inside office hours and you will notice a passion for spatial data and analysis, exploring the role of geography in economic development. As a research affiliate at UC San Diego’s Policy Design and Evaluation Laboratory (PDEL), his office tells a story of modeling and data, particularly in the realm of health care systems.

Inspired by foreign aid and poverty reduction strategies, each object offers insight into his passion projects, from the United Nations Millennium Project to the mentors that inspired him along the way – working at the intersection of development economics, public health and the environment.

Hover over the images above for the big picture on his professional backstory and personal interests.

3 questions with Professor Gordon McCord


What are the real-world impacts of your research?
All of my research is applied and looking to directly inform policy-making in economic development, public health and environmental policy. For example, modeling the impact of climate variation on infectious disease not only allows for countries to prepare epidemic early-warning systems based on month-to-month weather predictions, but it also informs climate change policy by adding to the estimates of climate change “damage”. In turn, these estimates across all the ways in which climate change imposes costs on society allows us to estimate the optimal carbon tax to mitigate it.

What skills or understanding do you hope students leave your class with?
I hope students leave my classes at GPS with hard skills in spatial analysis that they can employ in whatever career they choose (whether public, private or the nonprofit sector), as well as some economic intuition that facilitates an analytical lens through which to see policy debates.

What is your academic focus?
I focus on using spatial analysis to study issues at the intersection of economic development, environment and health. My interests range from estimating the effects of climate change on infectious disease and on conflict, to using spatial methods to understand the effects of increased agricultural productivity on health and on economic growth. 

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