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Wataru Morioka

Postdoctoral Research Associate
HeRoP Lab (led by Dr. Marynia Kolak)


I am a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Healthy Regions & Policies Lab, GGIS, UIUC.

I received my PhD in Geography (2023) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) under the supervision of Dr. Mei-Po Kwan. I also hold an MS in Environmental Studies from the University of Tokyo and a BA in Cultural and Creative Studies from Aoyama Gakuin University.

Research Interests

My current research interest is spatio-temporal analysis using GIScience. Through these methods, I am aiming to evaluate people's living environment such as accessibility to public amenities in order to enhance our daily lives.

In HeRoP Lab, I am working on the Opioid Project. Specifically, I conduct level-up access and social/spatial network analyses to better understand how the accessibility of medications for opioid use disorder shapes communities and lives.


  • PhD in Geography, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2023
  • MS in Environmental Studies, University of Tokyo, Japan, 2017
  • BA in Cultural and Creative Studies, Aoyama Gakuin University, Japan, 2014


  • Graduate College Dissertation Completion Fellowship, UIUC (2022-2023)
  • SESE Schlesinger Travel Grant, UIUC (Summer 2023)
  • George Beatty Graduate Fellowship, UIUC (Spring 2022)
  • GGIS Summer Research Grant, UIUC (Summer 2021)
  • Graduate College Supplementary Summer Block Grant, UIUC (Summer 2020)

Awards and Honors

  • Early Career Research Scholarship, GISRUK 2023
  • Third Prize, AAG Spatial Analysis & Modeling (SAM) Specialty Group Student Paper Competition, 2023 AAG Annual Meeting
  • Third Prize, Graduate Student Poster Competition, 2023 SESE Research Review, UIUC
  • Third Prize, Doctoral-level Oral Presentation Award, 2022 West Lakes Division of the AAG Annual Meeting
  • Graduate College Conference Presentation Award, 2022-2023, UIUC
  • Finalist, AAG Peter Gould Student Paper Competition in Health & Medical Geography Specialty Group, 2022 AAG Annual Meeting
  • Third Prize, Illinois GIS Day Student Poster Competition, 2021 GIS Day in UIUC
  • Third Prize, Doctoral-level Oral Presentation Award, 2021 West Lakes Division of the AAG Annual Meeting
  • Finalist, AAG GIScience & Systems (GISS) Specialty Group Student Paper Competition, 2021 AAG Annual Meeting
  • Second Prize, 2020 Illinois GIS Day Student Poster Competition, 2020 GIS Day at UIUC
  • Student Travel Award, AAG Spatial Analysis and Modeling (SAM) Specialty Group, 2020 AAG Annual Meeting
  • Research Award, AAG Applied Geography (AG) Specialty Group, 2020 AAG Annual Meeting
  • Runner-Up in the Best Dynamic Web Map Part of the Student Map & Poster Competition, 2019 GIS Day at UIUC

Courses Taught

Additional Campus Affiliations

  • Research Assistant [hourly appointment in GGIS] (2022-2023): Measuring Opioid Risk Environments (with Dr. Marynia Kolak in HeRoP Lab)
  • Research Assistant [hourly appointment in GGIS] (2022-2023): Railyards and Environmental Justice in Chicago (with Dr. Julie Cidell in SMIIL Lab)
  • Research Assistantship (Summer 2021): Creating maps for new articles and books supported by History Department at UIUC (with Dr. Roderick Ike Willson)
  • Research Assistantship (2019 - 2020): A multi-institutional NSF award under the Convergence Accelerator Program for creating an open knowledge network for civic infrastructure systems (with Co-PI Dr. Arnab Chakraborty, PI Dr. Nora El-Gohari, and others)

Recent Publications

  • Wataru Morioka, Mei-Po Kwan, Kimihiro Hino & Ikuho Yamada (2023). How accessibility to neighborhood grocery stores is related to older people's walking behavior: A study of Yokohama, Japan. Journal of Transport & Health, 32, 101668. DOI: 10.1016/j.jth.2023.101668.
  • Wataru Morioka, Mei-Po Kwan, Atsuyuki Okabe & Sara L. McLafferty (2023). Local indicator of spatial agglomeration between newly opened outlets and existing competitors on a street network. Geographical Analysis, 55(3), 450-465. DOI: 10.1111/gean.12343
  • Hiroshi Morita, Kimihiro Hino, Wataru Morioka & Ikuho Yamada (2023). Changes in the residents’ step counts before and after a railway improvement project, Journal of Transport & Health, 30, 101608. DOI: 10.1016/j.jth.2023.101608
  • Wataru Morioka, Mei-Po Kwan, Atsuyuki Okabe & Sara L. McLafferty (2022). A statistical method for analyzing agglomeration zones of co‐location between diverse facilities on a street network. Transactions in GIS, 26(6), 2536-2557. DOI: 10.1111/tgis.12969
  • Wataru Morioka, Atsuyuki Okabe, Mei-Po Kwan & Sara L. McLafferty (2022). An exact statistical method for analyzing co-location on a street network and its computational implementation, International Journal of Geographical Information Science36(4), 773–798. DOI: 10.1080/13658816.2021.1976409