Katie Zager: Visualizing data and place

Katie Zager is a Social Research Specialist whose work focuses on using data to make visible many of the invisible disparities that lurk in our region. Through geography, mapping and community indicators, Zager brings data from a variety of data sources to life, and takes them from the abstract to the concrete. 

With a BA in Geography from Macalester College and an MA in Geography from UNC Charlotte, 2014, Zager brings a wealth of knowledge to her research. Her major projects at the Urban Institute include the Quality of Life Explorer, an online tool to explore the social, housing, economic, environmental, and safety conditions in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. This popular tool includes more than 80 maps, all free, interactive and fully embeddable on any website.

What are your main research interests?

My main research interests are community indicators work, public health and urban rural connections. 

What drew you to your field?

I was drawn to geography because of its emphasis on place as a connector between so  many different issues; where people live and work can have an impact on economic and health outcomes, people's ability to access basic goods and services, and how people relate to the world around them. Common tools that geographers use, such as mapping and spatial analysis, provide an unique lense through which to understand these issues. 

What do you find rewarding about your work?

I hope that by learning more about their communities, people can begin to make connections that they previously would not have, and that through those connections they'll be able to take action. 

What do you hope to accomplish, or change, through your work?  

I hope that through my work, people can see the connections between policy and outcomes, how decisions made years ago impact our current landscape, and how decisions made now can impact our landscape in the future. 






Angelique Gaines