Apply Now: SSEHRI Postdoc Position

Northeastern University’s Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute (SSEHRI), in collaboration with the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and the Department of Health Sciences, seeks a postdoctoral research associate, supported by our National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences T-32 Training Program “Transdisciplinary Training at the Intersection of Environmental Health and Social Science” (pending final notice of award) which started in 2015 and is jointly run by SSEHRI and Silent Spring Institute. The Training Program includes postdocs in the social sciences and environmental health sciences, and doctoral students in Sociology and other fields, and prepares trainees to be future leaders in social science-environmental health science collaborations and community-based research.

This is a two-year postdoctoral position, with the second year dependent on satisfactory performance. SSEHRI has many funded projects, and aims to build a thriving space for collaborations between life sciences and social sciences that train scholars for interdisciplinary collaborations that effectively improve the study and remediation of environmental health questions. The postdoc will develop their own research in the social study of environmental health issues with the assistance of the Institute’s interdisciplinary research group. The postdoc will have a regular mentor, opportunities for collaboration on existing research, involvement with other postdocs, multiple venues for presenting work in progress, the option to take or audit courses, and opportunities for guest lecturing. The postdoc will mentor graduate and undergraduate students.

The Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute, at Northeastern since 2012, continues the legacy of the Contested Illnesses Research Group at Brown University, which began in 2000, trains graduate students and postdocs in community-based participatory research aimed at transforming and improving environmental health.  By linking environmental health science, sociology, science and technology studies, and work with community-based organizations, SSEHRI develops novel approaches to studying environmental health questions. It currently has 6 core faculty members, 10 affiliated faculty, 2 postdocs, 13 doctoral students, 1 MPH student, and 5 undergraduate students.

Silent Spring Institute, with a staff of about 20, celebrated its 27th anniversary in 2021 as the nation’s leading scientific research organization focused on achieving breast cancer prevention through environmental research and outreach programs. Silent Spring Institute’s research focuses on breast cancer and environmental pollutants, especially hormone disruptors and animal mammary gland carcinogens. Silent Spring Institute develops and applies new technologies to identify safer chemicals and measure exposures. This is an opportunity to be part of a nationally recognized, innovative, mission-driven team.  Silent Spring Institute’s publications list is here.

Both Silent Spring Institute and Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute have extensive collaborations with many breast cancer, environmental health, and environmental justice organizations.

The postdoctoral fellow will spend approximately 2/3 of her/his time at Northeastern and approximately 1/3 at Silent Spring Institute. The postdoc will collaborate on one or more of several active grants, depending on training and experience. Work includes major participation in one of the three labs led by Core Faculty.

  • The Water Equity Team (WET) Lab examines problems related to water resources from different environmental and social justice perspectives. Because low-income communities and communities of color have historically endured the greatest exposure to environmental hazards associated with polluted waterways, unsafe drinking water, severe flood risk, and restricted access to recreational water amenities, funded by NSF, WET Lab studies how decisions by water management agencies affect water inequities in 8 major US cities; the public health consequences of water unaffordability; management and resilience to flood hazards; and associations between access to water-based recreational amenities and teenagers’ emotional health.
  • The Wylie Lab investigates environmental injustice across the life cycle of oil and gas from production, transport, refining and storage, and toxicities of dowThe Wylie Lab seeks to investigate environmental injustice across the life cycle of oil and gas from production, to transport, refining and storage, to the toxicities of downstream products. We work collaboratively with community organizations, NGOs, environmental scientists and computer scientists to develop new methods for environmental justice research and corporate accountability. Currently we are working on ways to map the neurotoxic gas hydrogen sulfide using photographic paper and on ways to visualize, in real-time, water pollution from industrial outfalls. We are presently working with communities in Wyoming, Montana, Texas and Saskatchewan to analyze air quality impacts from oil and gas extraction. In 2014-2015 we worked with Pennsylvania’s Environmental Health Project to assess their citizen science efforts to monitor particulate matter emissions from unconventional energy. In 2015 we worked on a successful campaign with the Southeast Environmental Task Force and Ban Petcoke to study and map piles of petcoke, a waste product from tar sands refining. In 2016-17 we worked with the Swinomish Reservation in Washington State to analyze air quality impacts from neighboring oil refining operations. Presently we work with Chelsea Massachusetts’ environmental justice organization GreenRoots to study the environmental health impacts of their seven oil storage facilities. Our work is funded by the Harvard School of Public Health’s JPB Environmental Fellowship, the Heinz foundation and Harvard and Boston Universities: Center for Research on Environmental and Social Stressors in Housing Across the Life Course (CRESSH).
  • The PFAS Project Lab studies children’s immunotoxicity, state and federal water guidelines and regulations, other government policy, community response and organization, health professionals’ knowledge and practice, race and class inequalities to PFAS exposure, prisoners’ exposure to PFAS, water testing and exposure on Indigenous lands, corporate PFAS advertising, social and economic costs of PFAS, state website presentation of PFAS information, and consumer action to reduce exposure. The PFAS Project provides guidance documents for health professionals and the public, works with state legislatures on testimony and legislative information, and actively presents material in national venues such as the National Academies, National Governors’ Association, Environmental Council of the States, Association of State and Territorial Health Organizations. It is funded by NSF, NIEHS, and foundation grants. It organized major international conferences in 2017 and 2019 (2022 currently being planned) with NIEHS conference grants, bringing together all stakeholders in this complex and growing area.
  • Research report-back. What should researchers tell study participants about their own results biomonitoring and personal exposure studies when the links between exposure and health are uncertain? The Silent Spring – Northeastern team has pioneered the development and evaluation of methods for reporting personal chemical exposures. Our ongoing efforts include report-back in a study of preterm birth in the PROTECT Superfund center in Puerto Rico, UCSF and University of Illinois centers of the ECHO Program (Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes), and the Environmental Reproductive and Glucose Outcomes Study (ERGO) pregnancy cohort in Boston.
  • The Environmental Data & Governance Initiative (EDGI) documents, analyzes, and advocates for the federal provision of environmental data and governance, from policies and institutions, to public access to information, to environmental decision-making. EDGI seeks to improve environmental information stewardship, to promote environmental democracy, health, and justice, and to better adapt these all to the digital age. EDGI has five major program areas: 1) investigating and analyzing the inner workings of federal environmental policy, through interviewing of agency staff, as well as data and documentary collection and analysis, 2) monitoring changes to, and exploring standards for, web-based information about the environment, energy, and climate provided by the federal government, 3) developing new ways of making federal environmental data more accessible to the public, 4) imagining, conceptualizing, and moving toward Environmental Data Justice, and 5) prototyping new organizational structures and practices for distributed, collective, effective work rooted in justice. 
  • The Puerto Rico Testsite for Exploring Contamination Threats (PROTECT) Program Supported with funding from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences’ Superfund Research Program, the PROTECT Center studies exposure to environmental contamination in Puerto Rico and its contribution to adverse pregnancy outcomes, including preterm birth (less than 37 completed weeks of gestation). Rates of preterm birth and infant mortality in Puerto Rico are among the highest of all US states and territories. The PROTECT Center seeks to understand the mechanisms by which exposure to mixtures of suspect chemicals contribute to adverse pregnancy outcomes. To conduct these analyses, the PROTECT Center develops new statistical methods and data mining, machine learning, and visualization tools. The Center also investigates the impacts of extreme weather events on contaminant transport and exposure, and develops new water treatment technologies for portable and robust water treatment systems. The Community Engagement Core employs innovative approaches to engage and educate the community, involve study participants, report-back data, and communicate with stakeholders.

This position offers a competitive salary (standard NIH NRSA salary, which starts at $53,760 with 0 years post-PhD and increases with each year post-PhD) and benefits package. The start date of this position is preferably September 1, 2021, but may be flexible. Review of applications will begin immediately and the search will remain open until the position is closed or filled. For additional information write Phil Brown at: p.brown@northeastern.edu.

To apply, please:

  1. Send an application packet containing a cover letter, a curriculum vitae, writing samples (published or unpublished), and graduate and undergraduate transcripts to Professor Phil Brown by email at p.brown@northeastern.edu (put “T32 postdoc” in subject line).
  2. Send three letters of reference, including one from the dissertation advisor, to Professor Phil Brown by email at p.brown@northeastern.edu.

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