I am a new assistant professor of Soil, Water and Environmental Science with a joint appointment in the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health’s Division of Community, Environment and Policy at the University of Arizona. I am trained across various fields and I am a transdisciplinary researcher in the purest sense.
I received a B.A. degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, a B.A. degree in Studio Art (Photography), and a master’s of Public Administration from Columbia University. I received my Ph.D. from the UA in SWES (with a minor in Art) and completed a postdoctoral fellowship with a medical sociologist in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities at Northeastern University.
The goals of my research program are two-fold and include: 1) developing a fundamental understanding of the fate and transport of contaminants in the environment, with a primary focus on plant-soil systems; and 2) designing effective risk communication and data report-back strategies to improve environmental health literacy and education. The foci of my research program include: assessing the environmental health of residential and community gardens and food products; monitoring and improving soil and air quality through phytotechnologies; and building citizen science programs and low-cost environmental monitoring tools to increase public participation in environmental health research. Starting in the spring of 2016, I will be teaching Introduction to Environmental Science, Translating Environmental Science, and History of Environmental Science.
I am dedicated to early academic outreach to underrepresented students and engaging underserved communities whose lives are affected by environmental health issues with increasing prevalence. I have been successful in reaching underserved populations and have previously facilitated community-academic partnerships in Arizona and Massachusetts. A noteworthy example is Gardenroots, a co-created citizen science project. Using low-cost sampling kits, community members collected samples and together characterized the uptake of arsenic by their homegrown vegetables near a Superfund site.
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences recognized this work and I received the 14th annual Karen Wetterhan Award. From 2005- 2010, I was the UA’s NIEHS Superfund Research Program’s translation coordinator and some of my key accomplishments were designing bilingual informational materials, developing informal science education opportunities for all ages, and assisting in the development and implementation of a widely acclaimed promotoras (community health workers) training program in the US-Mexico border region.
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