Staff Spotlight with Alan Harris
Meet Alan Harris. He serves as a Geographic Information System (GIS) Analyst for MSU Division of Public Health and multiple Flint community organizations; including FCHES, Flint Registry, and Flint ReCAST.

The Flint native talks about working in his hometown, what motivates his work, and analyzing public health data from a geographic perspective. Get to know Alan in this Q&A.


Q. What is your job title?
A. GIS Analyst

Q. What does your job entail?
A. I organize data from projects or other secondary sources and analyze it from a geographic perspective using mapping software and other visualization tools.

Q. Why did you choose MSU Flint to work?
A. It's where I grew up. I know the city quite well. I studied, lived, and worked here. I saw an opportunity to utilize my GIS skills when the job opportunity popped up. The work we're doing here is very satisfying, and I'm excited to expand my knowledge and skillset in service to the programs and families we serve.

Q. What motivates you to wake up and go to work?
A. Service & empathy. I like using all of the knowledge I've gained over the years to put it to good use in service of others.

Q. What has been your favorite project so far?
A. Replicating historic alcohol landscapes by digging into the business directories at the Flint library from the past 60 years.

Q. Have you received any awards or honors?
A. Genesee County Health Department won an award for their tracking and reporting of COVID cases, which I was involved with. 
Graduated with Honors from the Environmental Science Department at UofM Flint in 2012.
Air Force Achievement Medal in 2008.

Q. What is the best career lesson you've learned so far?
A. Make self-care a priority. Take care of yourself so you don't overburden your support circle and you can do your work well.

Q. What is something fun most people at work don't know about you?
A. I'm a certified Audio Engineer. I've been in a band with my wife since 2007. Since becoming a father I've shifted my concentration to production learning the basics of recording and mixing.

Q. What do you like to do when you aren't working?
A. I'm in Dad-mode when I'm not at work. That fills my plate mostly - but going for runs is my "me-time". Nothing extreme, just a few miles with some music and scenery.

Q. What are three words to describe you?
A. Calm, Funny, Reliable

Q. What is one thing you cannot live without?
A. Joking with friends or family in an improvised manner gets increasingly more absurd as it continues.

Q. If you were to share a best practice or words of wisdom with the team, what would you share?
A. Ask questions. Have patience. You work best when you understand a project holistically, and that requires asking questions (right or wrong) to reach a better understanding. That also takes patience.


July 18, 2022