Maryann R. Cairns, PhD
Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences
Southern Methodist University
Dr. Maryann Cairns is an environmental anthropologist dedicated to using creative research design and cultural understanding to safeguard environmental resources and human health. Her work has examined the politics of water and sanitation system design and development, the impacts of tourism on coastal water quality and human health, and the viability of low-cost technologies to treat wastewater-polluted rivers. Her newest research focus examines waste from the fashion industry from an interdisciplinary perspective, and forwards an ethnographically-informed approach to data science and supply chain modeling. Cairns has led major research investigations in multiple world regions, including Latin America & the Caribbean, the Western Balkans, and the United States. She is PI of a combined 1.5 Million-dollar Collaborative National Science Foundation-supported research program, entitled the MERA investigation, which studies exposure to pathogens in ocean environments. She is a previous recipient of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science & Technology Policy Fellowship, and was very recently awarded a Fulbright US Scholar Fellowship for her research in North Macedonia. Notably, much of her research was completed collaboratively in strong partnerships with international colleagues and representatives from foreign municipal and national governments. Cairns has served on the board of the Anthropology and Environment Society at the national level. Her work has been published in several major interdisciplinary journals, including Environmental Science & Technology and World Development. Dr. Cairns is an assistant professor of Anthropology at Southern Methodist University, where she is the recipient of multiple teaching awards, including the SMU Rotunda Outstanding Professor Award and the Extra Mile Award, which is awarded to professors who “support students who learn differently.” She has mentored and trained many undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral scholars both in the US and internationally. She is particularly dedicated to innovation in mentorship practices and research methods training. Several of her current and past mentees have themselves received prestigious external grants and recognitions, including Fulbright awards, McNair scholarships, and other accolades, as well as coauthored articles with Dr. Cairns that have been published in journals including Water Research and Human Organization.
Biology and Political Science
Chelsea Canedy is a Northeastern University student pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Political Science. Her interest in environmental health began while studying the social determinants, specifically found in preconception health, and their impacts on health disparities in the United States. She completed a co-op with Dr, Phil Brown through researching perfluorinated compounds and pre-term birth in Puerto Rico in 2016. Chelsea worked as the director of preconception peer education through the Health Disparities Student Collabroative in Northeastern University. Chelsea is also the directer of Students Against Institutional Discrimination (SAID) an on campus racial and social justice group on campus. Chelsea also is a Resident Assistant for Northeastern University.
Assistant Professor of Sociology
Michigan State University
Jennifer Carrera was a postdoctoral research associate with SSEHRI in 2014-2015. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Michigan State University. At MSU she has a joint appointment between the Department of Sociology and the Environmental Science and Policy Program. Dr. Carrera is part of a campus-wide Global Water Initiative. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology and an M.S. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, an M.S. in Biostatistics from Emory University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Boston University. Her doctoral research explored the context of water shutoffs in Detroit, Michigan and failing septic systems in Lowndes County, Alabama. Through environmental engineering Dr. Carrera considered mechanisms for incorporating community member needs and values into technology design for sanitation systems in Sub-Saharan Africa. Her area of research focuses on access to clean water and sanitation in low-income populations domestically and internationally. She uses water as a lens through which to examine mechanisms of exclusion and through her work aims to articulate the everyday practices that produce and reproduce environmental injustices. Through citizen science research and community based participatory research she aims to provide communities with resources to make inequities visible. By doing so she hopes to transform data as a tool for power within marginalized communities and direct technology design and policy initiatives towards integrated, sustainable solutions for improving access to environmental resources for low-income populations.
Environmental Studies and International Affairs
Nicholas is a student at Northeastern University pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies and International Affairs. Nicholas was the first co-op student to work with Dr. Phil Brown which involved research on the social discovery of perfluorinated chemicals. Other interests include international and domestic environmental policy and law. Nicholas is also involved with Delta Tau Delta Fraternity on campus.
Sociology PhD Graduate
Lauren graduated with her PhD in Sociology from Northeastern University in the summer of 2019. She was very actively involved with both SSEHRI and Northeastern Environmental Justice Research Collaborative (NJERC). Her research interests include environmental justice, socio-technical transitions, social movements, and political ecology.
Her dissertation research examines the social and cultural impacts of coal plant closures at the community level, decision-making processes surrounding redevelopment in these “transition towns,” and the broader political economic dynamics of the transition to a renewable energy economy.
Vanessa De La Rosa, PhD
Vanessa joined in the summer of 2016 as a SSEHRI postdoctoral research fellow in collaboration with the Silent Spring Institute. Dr. De La Rosa has expertise in genomics and alternative models to study the toxicity of chemicals. Her projects included employing new genomic technologies to develop cell culture models that can be used to study breast carcinogens and mammary gland development. As a SSEHRI fellow, she was also interested in bridging her background in toxicology with community participatory based research to facilitate change in chemicals policy and public health.
Prior to Silent Spring, Dr. De La Rosa was an NIH IRACDA fellow at the University of New Mexico, where she conducted studies on nutrition and heavy metal exposure during pregnancy in Navajo communities. As a fellow, she also developed and taught courses in introductory biology at New Mexico State University. Vanessa is actively involved in STEM diversity initiatives through local and national organizations to engage and support underrepresented students in the sciences.
Vanessa earned a PhD in Molecular Toxicology from the University of California, Berkeley, where she focused on identifying molecular mechanisms of trichloroethylene (TCE) and toxicity using in vitro functional genomic approaches.
Human Services and Communications Student
Sokona Diallo is a Human Services and Communications student from Mali, West Africa. She was first exposed to environmental justice and public health through witnessing the devastating effects of toxic waste on her community. Sokona firmly believes research is crucial to understanding how environmental factors can lead to health disparities when the communities where people live, work, learn and play are toxic, burdened by chemicals, and social inequities. Her previous work at Northeastern and in the community has given her a strong background in community organizing, advocacy, and social entrepreneurship. At ROUTES, working on the PFAS project, she connected her work on chemical policy reform to how strategic prevention, intervention, and treatment can be implemented to minimize social determinants of health. Her special area of interest is how we bridge research and community engagement to ensure that all communities have an equitable and meaningful voice in the health, sustainability, and future of their neighborhoods.
Sociology MA 2018
Nickolas graduated with an MA in Sociology in 2018. He was a member of both SSEHRI and the Northeastern Environmental Justice Research Collaborative (NJERC). He has a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from the University of Massachusetts Boston. Nickolas’s research interests include environmental justice and education as well as green jobs training. In the fall he will be searching for positions in community organizing and development.
Bridget is a Medical Anthropologist, and is also a Visiting Scholar at the Harvard University Asia Center. She was a postdoctoral researcher at Northeastern in 2015 and 2016. Her research focuses on environmental risk, exposure, and translational science. Her dissertation, Toxic Relief: Science, Medicine and Uncertainty after Bhopal, analyzed the relationship between epidemiological research studies, clinical care, and illness narratives in the context of a chronic mass exposure, and is in revision as the manuscript The Gas Map. Her latest project, Exposomics and Onto-Ethnologies: Health in the age of Exposure, looks at the scientific praxis of interdisciplinary exposomics, and interrogates the risks and rewards of integrated environmental health facilitated by big data and semantic ontology. She tweets regularly about environmental health and interdisciplinarity @socioexposome, and directs The InterExposome Project. Learn more at her website.
Andrea R. Hindman was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in a joint appointment with Silent Spring Institute (SSI) and SSEHRI. Her main project at SSI was to employ the weight-of-evidence approach to take inventory and prioritize the biological events driving disrupted mammary gland development and later-life disease susceptibility. The goal of this work is to underscore the human health impact of endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) on breast cancer risk and development, provide guidance for assay development to predict susceptibility and identify data gaps to solicit new evidence. As a SSEHRI fellow, she will supplement her training in molecular biology with methods in toxicology and community-based research. Her broader research interests are in developmental origins of health and disease, particularly early-life exposures and experiences that predispose later-life disease outcomes. She earned her Ph.D. in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at The Ohio State University. Her thesis investigated the molecular mechanisms of EDCs and their impact upon estrogen signaling and breast cancer susceptibility following in utero exposures. She complimented her research interests in environment and human health through her dedication to student government, advocacy and campus sustainability. She is a native of Niagara Falls, NY and prior to her doctoral work, earned Bachelor degrees in Biological Sciences, B.S. and Chemistry, B.A., from the State University of New York at Buffalo.
American Studies and Ethnic Studies
Elizabeth Hoover is an Assistant Professor of American Studies and Ethnic Studies at Brown University where she teaches courses on environmental health and justice in Native communities, indigenous food movements, Native American museum curation, and community engaged research. During the 2014-2015 academic year she worked under a Ford Postdoctoral Fellowship as a visiting scholar at the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute at Northeastern University. Elizabeth received her MA and PhD in Anthropology at Brown University, with a focus on environmental and medical Anthropology as it applies to Native American communities responding to environmental contamination. Her book “’The River is In Us;’ Fighting Toxins in a Mohawk Community an ethnographic exploration of Akwesasne Mohawks’ response to Superfund contamination and environmental health research, was published in 2017 through University of Minnesota Press. She is currently spending the 2018-2019 academic year as a fellow of the Stanford Humanities Center writing her second book From ‘Garden Warriors’ to ‘Good Seeds;’ Indigenizing the Local Food Movement, which explores Native American farming and gardening projects around the country: the successes and challenges faced by these organizations, the ways in which participants define and envision concepts like food sovereignty, and importance of heritage seeds. Elizabeth has published articles about environmental reproductive justice in Native American communities, the cultural impact of fish advisories on Native communities, and food sovereignty.
Sociology Ph.D. 2015
Matt Judge is the first graduate of SSEHRI, having begun his Ph.D. before SSEHRI was established. He served as a Research Assistant to Distinguished Professor Phil Brown. He has served as a Senior Teaching Assistant for the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, having instructed courses: SOCL1001 Introduction to Sociology, SOCL 1248 Environment and Society, and SOCL1268 Social Movements.His dissertation is entitled ” Identification, Understanding, and Response: Exploring the Exposure Experience.” Matt is now on the job market searching for academic advising jobs in higher education.
Assistant Professor of Sociology
Memorial University of Newfoundland
Max Liboiron was a postdoctoral fellow at the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute in 2013-2014. She is now an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Memorial University of Newfoundland and a member of the Superstorm Research Lab. She is currently researching theories of scale in relation to environmental action. Her dissertation, “Redefining Pollution: Plastics in the Wild,” investigates scientific and advocate techniques used to define plastic pollution given that plastics are challenging centuries-old concepts of pollution as well as norms of pollution control, environmental advocacy, and concepts of contamination. Her work has been published in the Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies, Social Movement Studies: Journal of Social, Cultural and Political Protest, the Encyclopedia of Consumption and Waste: The Social Science of Garbage, and in the edited volume Accumulation: The Material Politics of Plastic. She writes for the Discard Studies Blog and is a trash artist and activist.
Mercedes received her PhD in Sociology from Brown University in May of 2013. Her dissertation was a qualitative study on the class politics of Rhode Island’s alternative food movement, which sought to understand the tension between individual self-governance around health through lifestyle-based consumption habits (i.e. participation in food alternatives), and the active policing (for example, through well-intentioned public health policies) of vulnerable and disadvantaged people who are unable or unwilling to achieve “optimum health.” Beyond her work on food systems, health, the body, and social theory, Mercedes has worked extensively on environmental health projects through Phil Brown’s former Brown University Contested Illnesses Research Group, and has also worked on urban/spatial/GIS research projects through Brown University’s Spatial Structures in the Social Sciences Initiative. As a postdoc at Northeastern, she worked with Professors Andrea Parker, Holly Jimison, and Misha Pavel on an evaluation of Aetna Foundation-funded grant projects for digital/mobile health interventions, with a focus on disadvantaged communities and the alleviation of health disparities.
Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources
University of Vermont
Bindu Panikkar was a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Environmental Health and Research Ethics at the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute at Northeastern University in 2013-2014 and a Research Affiliate at the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Science, Brown University where she co-ordinated the Community Outreach and Translation Core of the Brown Children’s Environmental Health Center and the Community Outreach Core of the Brown University Superfund Research Program. She recently accepted a position as Assistant Professor in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont. She also served as the Program Director of Hospitals for a Healthy Environment in RI. Her current research work includes the ethical and legal challenges in communicating individual biomonitoring personal exposure results to study participants,’ the ‘ethical implications of fetal tissue research’ at the Brown Children’s Environmental Health Center and science technology and society perspective on ‘thorium based nuclear power and the dimensions of risk to society, environment, health and security. Her prior work and publications include an environmental justice and community based participatory work funded by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health on occupational health disparities among immigrant populations in Somerville, MA; the ethics of uranium mining research; and the teratogenic effects of depleted uranium. Bindu has a Ph.D. in Environmental Health and MA/MS in Environmental Policy and Planning/Environmental Health from Tufts University.
Monica Ramirez-Andreotta, M.P.A., Ph.D.
University of Arizona
Dr. Monica Ramirez-Andreotta is an Assistant Professor at the University of Arizona and a former faculty member of the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute at Northeastern University. Additionally, Dr. Ramirez-Andreotta was part of Northeastern University’s Superfund Research Program Community Engagement and Research Translation Cores. Dr. Ramirez-Andreotta’s areas of research include: environmental contamination and food quality and phytotechnologies to improve soil and air quality. In parallel, Dr. Ramirez-Andreotta is building citizen science programs to increase public participation in environmental health research, developing tools that can provide more robust exposure estimates and designing effective risk communication and report-back strategies that will improve environmental health literacy. She is dedicated to early academic outreach to underrepresented students and engaging underserved communities whose lives are affected by environmental health issues with increasing prevalence. Dr. Ramirez-Andreotta has a PhD in Soil, Water and Environmental Science from the University of Arizona that focused on integrating the fundamentals of environmental science, human exposure assessment, and developing methods for achieving environmental health justice. She also has a Masters of Public Administration in Environmental Science and Policy from Columbia University, and undergraduate degrees in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and Photography. For her dissertation project, Gardenroots she conducted a controlled greenhouse study along with a co-created citizen science program to characterize the uptake of arsenic by homegrown vegetables near a Superfund site in Arizona and designed graphically-rich materials to report the data back to participants. Lastly, Dr. Ramirez-Andreotta was the winner of the 14th annual Karen Wetterhan Award from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
Mia Renauld is a Ph.D. who was a graduate student and research assistant for SSEHRI. She received her bachelor’s degrees in Political Ecology and Anthropology from University of California, Santa Cruz and her masters and doctorate in Sociology from Northeastern University. Her dissertation explored the evolution of corporate community relations between one of the nation’s largest and oldest oil refineries to understand how corporate strategies influence racial formation, community development, and community organizing. Renauld has left academia to utilize her research skills in a ux researcher capacity.
Jamie San Andres
Sociology MA 2016
Jamie San Andres is a graduate student in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and a member of the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute (SSEHRI). Her research focuses on the ways in which extractive development projects, such as Ecuador’s large-scale mining project El Mirador, impact Indigenous communities. She received bachelors degrees in Anthropology and Political Science from Fresno State University. In 2011, she interned with Yanapuma Foundation, an NGO that promotes sustainable development in Ecuador, and in 2012 she became an international human rights observer with Comisión Ecumenica de Derechos Humanos (CEDHU) in Intag, Ecuador. During this time she lived in a mining community and participated in a fifteen-day march led by the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE). Since then, she has worked as a union and community organizer. Most recently, she conducted participatory action research with the CONAIE during a historic Indigenous uprising.
Assistant Professor of Anthropology
California State University – Fresno
Dvera Saxton was a post-doctoral research associate in SSEHRI in 2013-2014. She completed her Ph.D. in anthropology at American University. Her dissertation, entitled “Layered Disparities, Layered Vulnerabilities: Farmworker Health and Agricultural Corporate Power On and Off the Farm” is based off of two years of ethnographic field research in the Pájaro and Salinas Valleys of California’s Central Coast. Through engaged explorations of farmworkers’ experiences with the workers’ compensation system, pesticide policies and practices, state and non-profit social services, and the development of agribusiness-sponsored corporate social responsibility and philanthropy programs, she documents how many of the policies and practices proposed as solutions to farmworker health actually perpetuate vulnerabilities and social and environmental suffering. During her research, Dvera mobilized a combination of methodological approaches, developing strong rapport with farmworker families and actively participating in the campaign against the toxic soil fumigant pesticide methyl iodide. She plans to continue her research and organizing around farmworkers’ knowledge of and experiences with toxic pesticides and work-related injuries within the context of transnational agricultural migration. She would also like develop curriculum and trainings for different audiences that foster trans-worker solidarity as well as alternative, non-capitalist strategies to redress shared social and environmental harms in different communities.
Sociology MA 2017
Nancy completed her MA in Sociology in May 2017. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Geology from Bryn Mawr College. Nancy’s research interest includes environmental justice and the intersections of race, class, gender, and the environment. Her thesis, entitled “Two Sides of the Same Coin: Police Brutality and Environmental Injustice” examines the relationship between police brutality and environmental injustice using GIS and Statistics. Nancy will continue her studies at the University of Illinois – Chicago where she will pursue a PhD in Sociology.