Global Water Security Center

Providing decision makers with the most reliable, ground-breaking research, applied scientific techniques, and best practices so that the hydrologic cycle and its potential impacts can be put in a context for appropriate action and response by the United States

Dr. Penelope Mitchell, Human-Environmental Analyst



Dr. Penelope Mitchell is a human geographer and computational social scientist with research interests in complex spatial systems in the domain area of health, human-environment interaction, behavioral geography including the influence of weather and climate on social systems. Mitchell’s research background demonstrates commitment to breadth by conducting research in to improve decision support in health and human systems, networks and transportation systems, and department of defense applications using the methods of geovisualization, spatial analysis and statistics, location analytics, and integrated modeling. She has had the privilege of participating in exciting collaborative theoretical research projects. On behalf of the Office of Naval Research, Mitchell worked on an exploration of a series of interrelated logistical problems in the unmanned/autonomous context, making use of a spatial optimization approach to logistics operations to inform decision-making. She has contributed to research for National Science Foundation’s Disrupting Illicit Supply Network in the context of narcotrafficking—integrating optimization, simulation, and spatial analytic systems—to improve decision making for drug interdiction.

Further, Mitchell participated in research advances in collective spatial cognition for the Army Research Institute for the Social and Behavioral Sciences. Her doctoral research focused on the opioid epidemic as a wicked problem on a complex spatial system, wherein risk, accessibility, and location models were utilized to improve treatment accessibility for underserved populations. She utilizes this broad array of research experience to extend the knowledge base of water-related research conducted by GWSC to address global insecurities at the nexus of water, food, energy, and health.

Mitchell received her doctorate in Geography from the University of Alabama. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Policy and Master of Science in Environmental Sciences from the University of West Florida.