Malia Jones

Position title: Assistant Professor, Community and Environmental Sociology


1450 Linden Dr.
Madison, WI 53706

Additional Webpage
Community & Environmental Sociology Website
More information
Curriculum Vitae


How do the places we spend time affect our health? How are the dynamic, interpersonal interactions of everyday life situated in places? How do patterns in the use of social and physical space lead to differences in the health of populations? My research agenda centers on spatially explicit approaches to the relationship between people and their social environments, and how spatial exposures lead to health disparities. I study how geographic distribution of people creates and replicates health disparities across time. Some of my ongoing work looks at how geographic and social clusters of institutional mistrust can undermine herd immunity for infectious diseases. My current work looks at rural health issues during the pandemic, including COVID-19 mortality and differences in vaccine behaviors across the urban-rural spectrum.  

I’m also a co-founder and the Director of Science for Those Nerdy Girls, a voluntary social media-based science communication collaborative. As an organization, our mission is to disseminate practical and factual health information to our readers. As the Director of Science, I’m working on ways to measure the impact of social media health promotion messaging on users.

Each Spring semester, I teach Introduction to Public Health (PH370/CES370) in the Community & Environmental Health and the Global Health majors. 

CDE research theme area affiliations

Demography of Inequality; Health and the Life Course; Spatial and Environmental Demography

Selected Publications

Jones, Malia, Mahima Bhattar, Emma Henning, and Shannon Monnat. In press. “Explaining the U.S. rural disadvantage in COVID-19 case and Death rates during the Delta-Omicron surge: The role of politics, vaccinations, population health, and social determinants.” Social Science & Medicine. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2023.116180

Jones, Malia, and Katelyn Jetelina. 2023. “Vaccination Has More to Offer than Direct Clinical Benefit: FDA’s Vaccine Licensure Process Ignores Population Health and Social Determinants of Disease.” American Journal of Epidemiology. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwad161

Piltch-Loeb, Rachel, Richard James, Sandra S. Albrecht, Alison M. Buttenheim, Jennifer Beam Dowd, Aparna Kumar, Malia Jones, Linsdey J. Leininger, Amanda Simanek & Shoshana Aronowitz. 2023. “What Were the Information Voids? A Qualitative Analysis of Questions Asked by Dear Pandemic Readers between August 2020-August 2021.” Journal of Health Communication 28(S1). doi: 10.1080/10810730.2023.2214986

Golos, Aleksandra, Shareth Chandra Guntuku, Rachael Piltch-Loeb, Lindsey J. Leininger, Amanda M. Simanek, Aparna Kumar, Sandra S. Albrecht, Jennifer Beam Dowd, Malia Jones, and Alison M. Buttenheim. 2023. “Dear Pandemic: A Topic Modeling Analysis of COVID-19 Information Needs among Readers of an Online Science Communication Campaign.” PLoS One 18(3):e0281773. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0281773

Jones, Malia, Karim Khader, and Westyn Branch-Elliman. 2022. “Estimated Impact of the US COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign—Getting to 94% of Deaths Prevented.” JAMA Network Open 5(7):e2220391. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.20391. PMCID: PMC9531754.

Albrecht, Sandra S., Shoshana V. Aronowitz, Alison M. Buttenheim, Sarah Coles, Jennifer Beam Dowd, Lauren Hale, Aparna Kumar, Lindsey Leininger, Ashley Z. Ritter, Amanda M. Simanek, Christine B. Whelan, and Malia Jones. 2022. “Lessons Learned From Dear Pandemic, a Social Media–Based Science Communication Project Targeting the COVID-19 Infodemic.” Public Health Reports 00333549221076544. doi: 10.1177/00333549221076544

Curtis, Katherine J., Malia Jones, and Marcia J. Carlson. 2021. “Putting People into Dynamic Places: The Importance of Specific Contexts in Understanding Demographic Responses to Changes in the Natural Environment.” Population and Environment 42(4):425–30. doi: 10.1007/s11111-021-00386-6

Jones, Malia, Alison M. Buttenheim, Daniel Salmon, and Saad B. Omer. 2018. “Mandatory Health Care Provider Counseling For Parents Led To A Decline In Vaccine Exemptions In California.” Health Affairs 37(9):1494–1502. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2018.0437. PMID: 30179562.

Omer, Saad B., Kristen Allen, D. H. Chang, L. Beryl Guterman, Robert A. Bednarczyk, Alex Jordan, Alison Buttenheim, Malia Jones, Claire Hannan, M. Patricia deHart, and Daniel A. Salmon. 2018. “Exemptions From Mandatory Immunization After Legally Mandated Parental Counseling.” Pediatrics 141(1):e20172364. doi: 10.1542/peds.2017-2364

Buttenheim, Alison M., Malia Jones, Caitlin Mckown, Daniel Salmon, and Saad B. Omer. 2018. “Conditional Admission, Religious Exemption Type, and Nonmedical Vaccine Exemptions in California before and after a State Policy Change.” Vaccine 36(26):3789–93. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2018.05.050. PMCID: PMC7153733.

Jones, Malia, and Alison Buttenheim. 2014. “Potential Effects of California’s New Vaccine Exemption Law on the Prevalence and Clustering of Exemptions.” American Journal of Public Health 104(9):e3–6. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2014.302065

Jones, Malia, and Anne R. Pebley. 2014. “Redefining Neighborhoods Using Common Destinations: Social Characteristics of Activity Spaces and Home Census Tracts Compared.” Demography 51(3):727–52. doi: 10.1007/s13524-014-0283-z

Jones, Malia, and Jimi Huh. 2014. “Toward a Multidimensional Understanding of Residential Neighborhood: A Latent Profile Analysis of Los Angeles Neighborhoods and Longitudinal Adult Excess Weight.” Health & Place 27:134–41. doi: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2014.01.011. PMID: 34607872.

Buttenheim, Alison, Malia Jones, and Yelena Baras. 2012. “Exposure of California Kindergartners to Students With Personal Belief Exemptions From Mandated School Entry Vaccinations.” American Journal of Public Health 102(8):e59–67. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2012.300821

Jones, Malia, Anne R. Pebley, and Narayan Sastry. 2011. “Eyes on the Block: Measuring Urban Physical Disorder Through In-Person Observation.” Social Science Research 40(2):523–37. doi: 10.1016/j.ssresearch.2010.11.007. PMID: 21643484.