Please welcome one of our new post-docs: Margarida Pereira

Margarida Pereira is a Health Geographer with a Masters in Geographic Information Systems and other masters in Public Health. Margarida has finished her PhD in Human Geography recently and is going to integrate the team of the Centre for Research on Pandemics & Society (PANSOC) as a post-doc researcher.

  1. Tell us about your project

The firsts COVID-19 outbreaks occurred in urban areas, which confirmed that these areas gather the perfect conditions for fast dissemination of infectious diseases by being extremely populated areas, with high levels of pollution and with high mobility rates. Also, at an early stage of COVID-19 pandemic, physicians and scientist observed that individuals with obesity, not only were at higher risk of contracting severe illness but also had increased odds of dying. Obesity was declared by WHO as a world epidemic in 2000, and the highest rates of obesity are observed precisely in urban areas. Hence, such areas became naturally privileged settings for the uprising of the 2020 syndemic of COVID-19 and obesity. Therefore, this research project intends to deepen the knowledge about COVID-19 pandemic and its association with a pre-existent major public health concern – obesity – in urban contexts, using an ecological approach.

  • Why are you joining PANSOC?

I have recently finished my PhD in Human Geography at the University of Coimbra (Portugal) that focused specifically on how the urban environment impacts individuals’ weight status. And, as it is well-known now, obesity is an important risk factor for severe cases of COVID-19. Therefore, I started to draft a project to investigate the mutual determinants of both obesity and COVID-19 in urban areas following a theoretical syndemic framework.

When the call for post-doc position opened at PANSOC, I immediately thought it would be the perfect place to develop my project and fortunately I was given the opportunity to carry out my research here. I am sure that PANSOC is the ideal host centre for my project and that it will provide the necessary support to achieve its goals successfully, considering the vast experience in pandemic studies in the last years.   

  • What are your plans for a future dream-project in academia?

Honestly, I see the present research project as the beginning of a long path investigating in depth the means by which urban areas impact individuals’ health and its implications in both the prevalence of infectious (COVID-19) and non-communicable diseases (obesity) in these areas. I imagine myself pursuing an academic career dedicated to the study of population health in urban areas and hopefully with the support of PANSOC along the time.

I am also interested in studying how living in urban contexts imposes certain lifestyles, more or less healthy, i.e., what are the implications of living in areas with different urban configurations in the individuals’ health-related behaviours and choices.

See Margarida’s profile here: Our team – Centre for Research on Pandemics & Society (PANSOC) (

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