Directions Magazine (DM): What is your position in your company and what do you do there?
Geoffrey Jacquez (GJ): I’m president of BioMedware where I determine the direction of the company and put in place the people and resources needed to get there. This includes working with science, software and administrative teams; evangelizing and getting our message out by giving presentations at conferences and workshops; writing proposals and authoring journal articles; and raising awareness about geohealth.
DM: What challenges do you face? What accomplishments have you achieved?
GJ: At BioMedware, among the biggest challenges is resource constraints – getting together the funding, people and time needed to accomplish the job. Our biggest accomplishment is the development of geohealth-focused scientific methods and software tools that have proved valuable in identifying clusters of breast and prostate cancer cases, for reconstructing individual exposures through time, and for assessing relationships between human health and the environment. Our software is used by public health departments around the globe, and is making a real difference in targeting interventions, assessing program efficacy, and in conducting health analyses. On a personal note, the accomplishment I am most proud of is a highly successful collaboration with my wife, Lauren, to raise our amazing daughter, Katie.
DM: What was your career path to your current position?
GJ: I have a bachelor’s degree in biology and computer science, as well as a master’s in natural resource policy, economics and law from the University of Michigan. I have a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology and population genetics from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. My dissertation advisor was Robert Sokal, who stoked my interest in spatial analysis and methods years before GIS became widely available. As a graduate student, I wrote my first proposal to NIH to develop disease clustering software. It was rejected, but I revised it and it was funded. That was the beginning, and I’ve had continual funding from NIH since then. I started BioMedware to get our research products into the hands of the public health professionals who advance our nation’s health.
DM: What would you like to be doing in your career in 10 years?
GJ: I want to continue to advance geography and geohealth in a highly applied fashion. The challenges from climate change, population growth, equity and sustainability are enormous, and geography and geohealth are part of the solution.
DM: What are your personal interests and hobbies?
GJ: I like to fish, hunt, build timber frame structures and manage habitat. I’ve installed a 12-acre tall-grass prairie in our family property in southern Michigan. This used to be oak-savannah in pre-settlement days, and I’m returning it to that state. I’ve built a timber-frame sauna there using ash from the property and reclaimed cedar and other materials. I think we ended up buying eight rafters and some roofing felt – everything else came from the land or was reclaimed. I rescued a 1950’s era Case TerraTrac backhoe track loader that I’m using to dig a pond, hoping to provide habitat for waterfowl.