Dr. South has dedicated her career to improving the health and wellbeing of the urban poor. As an emergency physician, she provides care for a diverse population with complex medical problems and witnesses first-hand how neighborhood environments impact health. As a researcher, Dr. South works to identify and address upstream causes of poor health. She is interested in understanding the ways in which the physical and social attributes of where people live, work, and play influence cardiovascular and mental health, chronic stress, and violent crime. She develops and tests neighborhood level, place-based and person-based interventions. Dr. South has worked on a series of studies evaluating the impact of vacant lot greening on violent crime, perceptions of safety, physiologic stress, and mental health. This work has been published in JAMA Network Open, PNAS, and AJPH, and has been featured in national and international media outlets including NPR, NBC News, TIME, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Dr. South also works on diversity in medicine efforts, and is very interested in mentoring medical students, residents, and fellows, particularly those from minority and other underrepresented in medicine backgrounds.
The Urban Health Lab (UHL) is a group of scientists, physicians, and students who believe everyone deserves to live and thrive in a safe and clean neighborhood. They partner with community leaders, non-profit organizations, and policy-makers to advance the science of urban health, particularly for low resourced and minority communities. The UHL designs and tests neighborhood environmental interventions, including quality green space, blight remediation, structural housing fixes, and more, as well as run observational studies. Their goal is to advance knowledge on the best practices to building healthy neighborhoods.