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VOLUME 13 TEACHING ISSUES AND EXPERIMENTS IN ECOLOGY
PRACTICE

Investigating Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Ecologies Using Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Geographic Epidemiology of Chlamydia in Texas

AUTHOR

Maruthi Sridhar Balaji Bhaskar1, Jason A. Rosenzweig2 and Shishir Shishodia2

1Department of Environmental and Interdisciplinary Sciences, Texas Southern University, 3100 Cleburne Street, Houston, Texas, 77004

2Department of Biology, Texas Southern University, 3100 Cleburne Street, Houston, Texas, 77004

Corresponding author: Maruthi Sridhar Balaji Bhaskar (bhaskarm@TSU.EDU)


THE ECOLOGICAL QUESTION

What are the magnitudes and spatial prevalences of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), such as chlamydia and gonorrhea in Texas? How do the social and economic factors explain the spatial and temporal trends of STD prevalence in Texas?

ECOLOGICAL CONTENT

Disease ecology, human ecology and behavior, bacterial infections, spatial and temporal spread of disease, Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

WHAT STUDENTS DO

The students explore and analyze data on two Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) - chlamydia and gonorrhea - at the county level. The students download the spatial and temporal datasets of the diseases for the period of over 15 years, from 2000 to 2014, at the county level for the entire state of Texas. The students then process the datasets and import them into Geographic Information Systems (GIS) using ArcGIS software. Spatial and temporal maps of the disease distribution over the entire geographical region are developed for each year. The students use the datasets to develop disease maps for chlamydia and gonorrhea occurrence in Texas for the time period of 2000 to 2014. All the maps developed by the students are put together and discussed at the end of the project.

SKILLS

The students become adept in the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to analyze and explore health science and biological problems. They analyze the long-term datasets using Microsoft Excel and learn ArcGIS Desktop (Version 10.5) software, including importing tabular data into GIS and create effective maps.

The students explore available disease data and relevant statistics, identify the appropriate and reliable datasets on the websites, download data into Excel files, and analyze the data by making graphs. Further, students download the datasets into the GIS, link the data to the spatial datasets, prepare a spatial database of the disease, and download the base layers for making the GIS maps. Students then will interpret, manipulate and analyze the GIS data. Finally, students improve their communication skills through PowerPoint or infographic presentations and write a research report.

Through this module, students learn critical thinking skills and engage in empirical and quantitative learning.

STUDENT-ACTIVE APPROACHES

Guided inquiry or open-ended inquiry, cooperative learning, critical thinking, empirical and quantitative learning

ASSESSABLE OUTCOMES

  • the tables, graphs, GIS maps, and research reports to assess the critical thinking and visual interpretation skills of the students
  • written assignments with graphs and GIS maps to assess the empirical and quantitative skills of the students
  • class presentations to assess students’ understanding, synthesizing capabilities, and communication of scientific data

SOURCE

Atlas Plus CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) Data:
https://gis.cdc.gov/GRASP/NCHHSTPAtlas/main.html

GIS Data – HGAC (Houston Galveston Area Council):
http://www.h-gac.com/rds/gis-data/gis-datasets.aspx

DOWNLOADS

Description of Resource Files:

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

This work was supported by the National Science Foundation HBCU-UP Targeted Infusion (HRD 1622993) and Research Initiation (HRD-1400962) grants. We would also like to thank the Quantitative Undergraduate Biological Education and Synthesis (QUBES) DIG Data Faculty Mentoring Network facilitators and participants for advice, support, and valuable feedback.

CITATION

Maruthi Sridhar Balaji Bhaskar, Jason A. Rosenzweig, and Shishir Shishodia. March 2018, posting date. Investigating Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Ecologies Using Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Teaching Issues and Experiments in Ecology, Vol. 13: Practice #6 [online]. http://tiee.esa.org/vol/v13/issues/data_sets/bhaskar/abstract.html