Kristen Beyer, PhD, MPH, MS

Kirsten Beyer, PhD, MPH, MS

Professor, Division of Epidemiology; Director, PhD Program in Public & Community Health; Co-Director, Global Health Pathway; Co-Director, GEO Shared Resource; Adjunct Associate Professor, Geography, UW-Milwaukee

Contact Information


BA, Integrated International Studies, Knox College
MPH, Global Health, University of Iowa
PhD, Geography, University of Iowa
MS, CTSI Epidemiology Track, MCW


Dr. Kirsten Beyer is on the faculty in the Division of Epidemiology in the Institute for Health & Equity.

Dr. Beyer’s work focuses on the intersection of health, place, and social justice. Her research passion is to identify environmental and systematic causes of health disparities, and to apply a translational research framework, including community engaged research, to move research findings into program and policy interventions to close the gaps.  While her interest in social justice has early roots, her specialization in geography and public health stems from her undergraduate focus on international studies, her work in the nonprofit sector after college, and her graduate work in global health, geospatial analysis, and health disparities.

Dr. Beyer received her PhD in Geography and her MPH in Global Health from the University of Iowa in Iowa City. She joined MCW in 2009 as an Instructor and a Fellow in the Primary Care Research Fellowship.  She was particularly interested in MCW because of its demonstrated investment in community engagement and translational research, its new (at that time) PhD program in public and community health, and the potential for strong mentorship from talented senior faculty. During her postdoctoral work, she also earned a master’s degree in clinical and translational science, with a focus on epidemiology. Dr. Beyer was appointed as an Assistant Professor in 2011.

Dr. Beyer’s current research focuses on the impacts of neighborhood environmental characteristics such as residential racial segregation and green space on cancer outcomes, particularly through pathways that include stress, time spent outdoors, social interaction, and food and physical activity behaviors. Dr. Beyer’s work includes disease mapping, social and spatial epidemiology, and mixed methods approaches that aim to identify spatial patterns of disease and injury and understand the complex human-environment processes that create them. Her goal is to conduct research that leads to the development of community-based interventions and policies to reduce health disparities. Her primary research project (NIH R01CA214805) is focused on the contemporary problems of institutional racism and residential racial segregation, and investigates whether these social structures contribute to the magnitude of racial and ethnic breast cancer survival disparities. The project uses a community engaged research framework that draws upon existing partnerships with community organizations in Milwaukee, WI, which often tops the list of America’s most segregated cities.

Dr. Beyer is a member of the MCW Cancer Center, the Comprehensive Injury Research Center, the Center for Patient Care and Outcomes Research, and the Clinical and Translational Science Institute. She holds an adjunct faculty position in the Department of Geography at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, serves as the Associate Director for the PhD Program in Public and Community Health, and is an External Examiner at the Makerere University School of Public Health in Kampala, Uganda. Dr. Beyer is currently on the leadership team for the MCW Cancer Center Community Advisory Board and serves as the academic co-chair of the Prevention and Healthy Communities workgroup of the Board. Dr. Beyer mentors PhD, masters, and medical students, and teaches in the PhD program in public and community health. She is the Chair of the MCW Environmental Sustainability Committee, serves on the Global Health Council, and is currently the Vice-Chair for the Health and Medical Geography Specialty Group of the American Association of Geographers. She received the Emerging Scholar award from the HMGSG in 2016.

In her free time, Dr. Beyer spends time with her family, outdoors, enjoying music, and traveling.

Honors and Awards

2016, Emerging Scholar Award, Health and Medical Geography Specialty Group, American Association of Geographers

Research Experience

  • Community Medicine
  • epidemiology
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • Geography
  • Health Behavior
  • Maps
  • Participatory research
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Social Change
  • Social Justice
  • Spatial Behavior
  • Violence

Methodologies and Techniques

  • Cluster Analysis
  • Epidemiologic Measurements
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • Models, Statistical

Research Interests

Researching increased time outdoors and reduced symptom burdens of breast cancer survivors

Breast Cancer, Race, and Place
Researching the effects breast cancer from women living in Milwaukee and it's surrounding counties