Population Health

September 21, 2020

Applied Research Fellows develop tool to explore population changes in King County

Image of students working on a white boardThe 2020 Population Health Applied Research Fellows concluded their 10-week program to produce small area population forecasts at the Census tract and Health Reporting Area levels by sex, race, ethnicity and five-year age groups for King County from 2020 to 2045.

Their findings, which were presented to staff from a variety of King County departments, Washington State’s Office of Financial Management and the Puget Sound Regional Council, will help fill a crucial information gap faced by policymakers and stakeholders about how local areas might change, particularly in terms of their racial and ethnic composition.

The fellows also developed an interactive visualization tool, which allows users to conduct their own, targeted analyses of projections by sex, age, race and ethnicity across small areas within King County. Given that decisions about locating resources often happen at the neighborhood level, the tool will offer a powerful means for local areas to meet the needs of diversifying populations.

For example, the students found that King County’s older population has the fastest rate of growth among all age groups, which has implications for needs related to senior services such as long-term care facilities and senior centers. Furthermore, the ability to localize projections to small areas showed that the 65+ age group for Whites and Asians will be geographically segregated, with White populations largely located in the eastern portion of the County and the Asian population located in the western and southern portions of the County. This type of disaggregation allows for services and resources to be targeted to racial and ethnic populations who have been traditionally underserved.

The Applied Research Fellowship program was launched in 2019 to equip students with data analysis, critical thinking and team science skills to enable them to effectively tackle complex population health challenges and become future leaders in the field. The program is run by the Population Health Initiative in partnership with the University of Washington’s Center for Studies in Demography & Ecology, and this year’s project was developed together with the King County Demographer and Public Health – Seattle & King County. Graduate and undergraduate students from various departments made up this year’s cohort of fellows.

Name Degree Program School
Steven Bao Undergraduate, Geography and Germanics Major College of Arts & Sciences
Eileen Kazura Master of Public Health School of Public Health
Jessica Lapham PhD School of Social Work
Neal Marquez PhD, Sociology College of Arts & Sciences
Priya Sarma Undergraduate, Biochemistry Major College of Arts & Sciences
Crystal Yu PhD, Sociology College of Arts & Sciences

By working on a real-world, client-driven project as part of a multidisciplinary team, the fellows learned how to integrate their disciplinary expertise into a team-oriented, problem-solving approach that developed multi-pronged solutions to a pressing population health challenge.

The application period for the summer 2021 Applied Research Fellowship program will open in winter 2021.

Learn more about this fellowship program by visiting its web page.