Dr. Marco Helbich

Vening Meineszgebouw A
Princetonlaan 8a
Kamer 6.16
3584 CB Utrecht

Dr. Marco Helbich

Universitair hoofddocent
Urban Geography
030 253 2017

More than half the population lives in cities; thus, a sustainable and healthy future requires a better understanding of how the physical and social urban environment affects our mental health and well-being. While existing research has primarily conceptualized peoples’ residential neighborhoods as the most salient settings, I supersede these static residential-based notions of contextual factors by recognizing that people spend significant portions of their daily lives outside our homes. Through mobility-based health geographies, I am striving to understand better how dynamic exposures along people‘s daily mobility and their residential moving over the life courses shape mental health and well-being.


My research bridges the gap between technology- and data-driven geographic information science and more conventional human geographies. Besides using smartphones to track people’s mobility and geocomputational models, among my contributions is an environmental exposure assessment approach using deep learning models relying on millions of street view images. Teaching is also integral to my career, and I share my passion for research while gaining inspiration from young minds as a teacher and mentor. I aspire to develop innovative solutions to reduce environmental stressors, underpin evidence-based policies to support healthier and happier lives. Such solutions to environmentally driven health burdens are critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. 


Numerous peer-reviewed articles in leading international journals across domains exemplify my scientific visibility. My work was supported through several grants, including the European Research Council, and sparked media attention. I am an associate editor for two journals, Health & Place and the Journal of Transport and Land Use, and a member of editorial boards such as the Annals of the American Association of Geographers and Cartography and Geographic Information Science. Besides being a member of the ethics board, I am a member of the Exposome-NL research consortium and was recently appointed to the board of the intra-faculty priority research stream Planetary Health.