Jessica M Finlay

An interdisciplinary approach is necessary to examine diverse socio-cultural, personal, and local factors affecting the health and wellbeing of older adults. My research combines the fields of human geography and environmental gerontology to focus in-depth on embodied and placed experiences of later life. It critically considers how neighborhood environments impact the welfare of older residents. Older adults are differentially empowered and dispossessed through their identity (e.g. class, race, gender, disability) and the urban environment. My research develops strategies for ‘aging in the right place’, where older adults can comfortably access their physical and socio-cultural needs, and experience enhanced health and quality of life. It encompasses a wide breadth of home and neighborhood environment modifications reflecting the diversity of life experiences, preferences, independence levels, and service needs of older adults.

Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

  • M.A.: Geography, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, 2013.
  • B.Ed: Environmental Education, Queen's University, Kingston, ON, Canada, 2011.
  • B.A.H.: Geography, Queen's University, Kingston, ON, Canada, 2010.


  • Health Geography
  • Urban Geography
  • Gerontology
  • Environmental Gerontology
  • Public Health
Research & Professional Activities

Professional Activities

  • Teaching Assistant: University of Minnesota , 2012 - 2015
  • Research Assistant: Centre for Hip Health and Mobility "Walk the Talk" Interdisciplinary Team , 2013 - 2014
  • Teaching Assistant : Midwest Center for Life Long Learning in Public Health: Concepts in Community Engagement Course (U of M) , 2012
  • Research and Teaching Assistant: Department of Geography (Queen’s University) , 2010 - 2011


  • Primary Investigator: Aging in the Right Place Research Study, 2015 - Present
  • Co-Investigator: Evidence in Aging Research Project, 2015 - 2017
  • Walk the Talk Research Team: Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, 2013
  • Research Assistant: City of Minneapolis Department of Health and Family Support, Upper Mississippi Riverfront Development Health Impact Assessment, 2012 - 2013
  • Research Assistant: Queen’s University Department of Student Affairs, Research, and Assessment , 2009 - 2010


  • Graduate Student Elected Representative: Association of American Geographers Health and Medical Geography Specialty Group, 2015 - 2017
  • Board Member: Association of American Geographers Task Force on Mental Health in Geography, 2015 - Present
  • Officer: Association of American Geographers Task Force Disability Geography Specialty Group on Mental Health in Geography, 2014 - 2016
  • Graduate Student Representative: Department of Geography, Environment and Society Graduate Education Policy Committee, 2013 - 2015
  • Commissioner: Midwest Collegiate Triathlon Conference, 2013 - 2015
  • Vice President and President: MN Triathlon Team, 2012 - 2014
  • Community Volunteer: Neighborhood Health Source, 2011 - 2015
  • Graduate Student Representative: Department of Geography, Environment and Society, 2011 - 2014
  • J. Finlay, T. Frank, J. Sims-Gould, H. McKay (2015). Therapeutic landscapes and wellbeing in later life: Impacts of blue and green spaces for older adults. Health & Place, 34, 97-106. Link
  • Finlay, Jessica M (2015). Book Review: Chris Gilleard and Paul Higgs (2013). Ageing, Corporeality and Embodiment. London & New York: Anthem Press, 198 pp. ISBN 978 0 85728 329 0 (hardback). International Journal of Ageing and Later Life, 9(2), 1-4. Link
  • Caddock, A., Bennett, J., Erdmann, J., Finlay, J., Johnson, D., Matze, M., Maze, H., Meyer, K., Narayan, G., O’Dell, Peterson, C., & S. Savengseuks (2013). Above the Falls Health Impact Assessment: Ensuring Health Equity in Decision-Making.. Minneapolis Health Department Reports, Link
  • Leger, A., Godlewska, A., Adjei, J., Schaefli, L., Whetstone, S., Finlay, J., Roy, R., & Massey, J. (2013). Large First-Year Course Re-Design to Promote Student Engagement and Student Learning. Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario.
  • Finlay, Jessica M, J. Massey (2012). Eco-campus: Applying the ecocity model to develop green university and college campuses. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 13(2), 150-165.
  • National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant, 2016 - 2017
  • Philanthropic Educational Organization Scholar Award , 2016 - 2017
  • Minnesota Gerontological Society Gerald Bloedow Scholarship, 2016 - 2017
  • Department of Geography, Environment, and Society Graduate Student Paper of the Year, 2015 - 2016
  • Alfred Bader Fellowship, 2015 - 2016
  • University of Minnesota Interdisciplinary Doctoral Fellowship, 2015 - 2016
  • Summer Research Fellowship, Department of Geography, Environment and Society, University of Minnesota, 2015
  • TA of the Year Award, Department of Geography, Environment and Society , 2014
  • President's Student Leadership and Service Award, University of Minnesota, 2014
  • Peter Gould Graduate Student Paper Award, Health & Medical Geography Specialty Group, 2014
  • Joseph-Kordell Scholarship, Center on Aging, 2013
  • Summer Research Fellowship -- Department of Geography, University of Minnesota, 2011
  • Graduate School Fellowship, University of Minnesota, 2011
  • Canadian Association of Geographers Prize, 2010
  • Medal in Geography, Queen's University, 2010
  • The F.W. Minkler Award, 2009
  • James and Mary Young Allardyce Brough Prize, 2008
  • Canadian National Millennium Excellence Award, 2006
  • Miller Thomson Foundation Scholarship, 2006