SSEHRI Members

CORE FACULTY

Phil Brown 
Director of Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute
University Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Health Sciences
360 Huntington Avenue, 310INV
Boston, MA 02115
617 373-7407
Email: p.brown@northeastern.edu
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Phil Brown is University Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Health Sciences at Northeastern University, where he directs the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute that specializes in Social Science-Environmental Health collaborations and includes a National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences Training Grant to educate and train people in such collaborations. He is the author of No Safe Place: Toxic Waste, Leukemia, and Community Action, and Toxic Exposures: Contested Illnesses and the Environmental Health Movement, and co-editor of Social Movements in Health, and Contested Illnesses: Citizens, Science and Health Social Movements. He studies biomonitoring and household exposure, social policy and regulation concerning flame retardants and perfluorinated compounds, reporting back data to participants, and health social movements.  He is co-director of the Community Engagement Core and Research Translation Core for Northeastern’s Superfund Research Program PROTECT (Puerto Rico Testsite for Exploring Contamination Threats). He has been awarded the 2015 Environmental Sociology Practice and Outreach Award from the Environmental Sociology and Technology Section of the American Sociological Association.

 

 

Sharon Harlan 
Professor of Health Sciences and Sociology
Bouve College of Health Sciences
College of Social Sciences and Humanities
Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute
Northeastern University
Email: s.harlan@northeastern.edu
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Sharon L. Harlan joined SSEHRI as a Northeastern faculty member in January 2016. She was previously a Professor of Sociology at Arizona State University. Her research explores the human impacts of climate change that are dependent upon people’s positions in social hierarchies, places in built environments of unequal quality, and policies that improve or impede human adaptive capabilities.  Focusing on excessive heat as a significant and increasingly critical threat to human health and well-being in cities, she studies urban landscapes in arid environments that produce unequal risks for people in neighborhoods divided by social class and race/ethnicity.  Her approach is interdisciplinary, integrating social theories about the historical production of environmental injustices with data and models from the ecological, geospatial, and health sciences. Dr. Harlan was a co-principal investigator of the National Science Foundation’s Central Arizona–Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research program at ASU, where she led the development of a longitudinal metropolitan area survey on environmental attitudes and behaviors.  She is currently engaged in multi-university, collaborative and comparative projects on urban heat and water challenges. Her research is published in a wide variety of interdisciplinary and disciplinary journals and she is co-author (with David Pellow and J. Timmons Roberts) of a chapter on climate justice in a new volume by the American Sociological Association Task Force on Climate Change (Dunlap, Riley and Robert Brulle (eds.) Climate Change and Society: Sociological Perspectives, Oxford University Press, August 2015).

 

 

Laura Senier 
Assistant Professor of Sociology & Health Sciences
Associate Director of SSEHRI for Student Progress
Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute
Northeastern University
Email: l.senier@neu.edu

Laura Senier holds a joint appointment as Assistant Professor in Sociology and Anthropology and in Health Sciences. She holds an MPH in epidemiology from the BU School of Public Health and a PhD in Sociology from Brown University. Her research interests include the sociology of medicine and public health, community environmental health, and environmental justice. Her dissertation was funded by a fellowship from the Robert & Patricia Switzer Foundation. Her current research focuses on barriers in research translation, or the migration of basic discoveries to clinical and public health applications. She is currently exploring this problem in an NIH-funded grant to study how state health agencies are modernizing their genetics programs.

 

 

Sara Wylie 
Assistant Professor of Sociology and Health Sciences
Associate Director of SSEHRI for Community Group Engagement
Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute
Northeastern University
Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Phone: 617-373-2385
Office: 338 International Village
Email: s.wylie@neu.edu
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Sara Wylie is an Assistant Professor in Northeastern University’s Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute. Wylie is jointly appointed in Sociology/Anthropology and Health Sciences. She is also a JBP Environmental Health Fellow with Harvard School of Public Health. She teaches Science and Technology Studies (STS) in Sociology and Community Based Participatory Research Health Sciences. She received her Ph.D. from MIT’s History, Anthropology, Science, Technology and Society (HASTS) Program in 2011. Her dissertation “Corporate Bodies and Chemical Bonds: An STS Analysis of the American Natural Gas Industry”  is an ethnographic study of the role science based NGOs played in the emergence of public concerns about the human and environmental health impacts of chemicals used in natural gas extraction, particularly hydraulic fracturing. Investigating new methods for practicing STS research, her dissertation additionally developed and implemented web-based tools to help communities and experts across the country study and hold extractive industries accountable for their social and environmental impacts. This project (called ExtrAct) was developed in collaboration with artist and technologist Chris Csikszentmihalyi, in MIT’s Center for Civic Media. More generally, Sara seeks to develop new modes of studying and intervening in large-scale social issues such as endocrine disrupting chemicals and corporate accountability through a fusion of social scientific, scientific and art/design practices. Pursuing these interests Sara taught in Digital+Media at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) for three years before moving to Northeastern. She worked extensively with Theo Colborn, lead author of Our Stolen Future. Sara is also a cofounder of Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science , a non-profit that develops open source, Do It Yourself tools for community based environmental analysis. Expanding her interest in transforming science practice through STS research, as Public Lab’s Director of Toxics and Health research she organized and initiated open source research projects on low cost thermal imaging, detection of indoor air hazards, community based methods for detection of hydrogen sulfide and home-testing for environmental estrogens. Through her role helping to build Northeastern’s Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute she continues to work actively with Public Lab.

 

 

AFFILIATED FACULTY

Alissa Cordner 
Assistant Professor
Sociology
Whitman College

Alissa Cordner is Assistant Professor at Whitman College, where she teaches sociology and environmental studies courses. Her research focuses on environmental sociology, the sociology of risk and disasters, environmental health and justice, and public engagement in science and policy making. She is the author of Toxic Safety: Flame Retardants, Chemical Controversies, and Environmental Health (2016, Columbia University Press) and the co-author of The Civic Imagination: Making a Difference in American Political Life (2014, Paradigm Publishers). She has conducted extensive research on the regulation, research, and activism related to industrial chemicals. She is co-PI of SSEHRI’s NSF grant on PFAS chemicals and co-leader of the PFAS lab. She is also currently studying the sociological aspects of wildfire risk management in the Northwest.

 

 

Loretta Fernandez 
Assistant Professor
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences
Northeastern University

Loretta A. Fernandez joined the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences as an assistant professor in 2013.  She received her B.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Northeastern University before pursuing S.M. and Ph.D. degrees at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology concentrating on environmental chemistry.  Her graduate work focused on the development of sampling tools and techniques for measuring persistent organic pollutants in aquatic environments and porous media. Dr. Fernandez has also worked as a Fellow with the National Research Council, applying passive sampling techniques at superfund sites in coastal regions of California and Rhode Island, measuring pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and contaminants of emerging concern in water, sediments, and biota.  Her research and teaching interests relate to investigating the transport, transformation, and biological exchange of organic contaminants in the environment, improving the quality and quantity of data available to scientists and environmental managers, and assessing the effectiveness of environmental remediation strategies.

 

 

Susan Mello 
Assistant Professor
Communication Studies
Northeastern University

Susan Mello is an Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at Northeastern University. Broadly, her research interests lie at the intersection of risk perception, health communication and the environment. Her recent work focuses on how exposure to risk information in the media, specifically about environmental toxins and cancer, impacts individual perceptions and protective health behaviors. Her work has appeared in Journal of Health Communication, Risk Analysis, and Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

Prior to joining the faculty at Northeastern, Dr. Mello served on the faculty at The Ohio State University. She earned her doctoral and master’s degrees from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, where she also taught undergraduate courses and worked as a research assistant in a National Cancer Institute-funded Center of Excellence in Cancer Communication Research. Dr. Mello was a 2007-2008 U.S. Fulbright Fellow to Québec City, Canada, and also worked in public relations for Discovery Communications, Inc. – the parent company of the Discovery Channel, Discovery Health, and Planet Green. She graduated summa cum laude from Boston College with a BA in Communication.

At Northeastern University, she teaches classes on communication theory, health communication campaigns and regularly guest lectures for the Bouvé College of Health Sciences Honors Program.

 

 

Dietmar Offenhuber 
Assistant Professor
Art + Design and Public Policy
Northeastern University

Dietmar Offenhuber is Assistant Professor at Northeastern University in the departments of Art + Design and Public Policy, where he heads the Information Design and Visualization graduate program. He holds a PhD in Urban Planning from MIT, a MS in Media Arts and Sciences from the MIT Media Lab, and a Dipl. Ing. in Architecture from the Technical University Vienna. His research field could be described as Accountability-oriented Design – focusing on the relationship between data, design and governance.

 

 

Ron Sandler
Professor, Department of Philosophy
Director, Ethics Institute
Northeastern University
Phone: (617) 373-3619
Email: r.sandler@neu.edu

Ronald Sandler is a professor of philosophy in the Department of Philosophy and Religion, a researcher in the Nanotechnology and Society Research Group, and a research associate in the Environmental Justice Research Collaborative at Northeastern University. His primary areas of research are environmental ethics, ethics and technology, ethical theory, and Spinoza. Sandler has taught courses on subjects ranging from philosophy of religion to ethics after Darwin and from contemporary moral issues to history of philosophy. He has received Northeastern University’s Excellence in Teaching Award.

 

 

Steven Scyphers 
Assistant Professor
Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences
Affiliated Faculty
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Northeastern University

Steven Scyphers is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences and Affiliated Faculty in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Northeastern University. Prior to his current position, Steven was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Northeastern and was awarded a Science, Engineering, and Education for Sustainability (SEES) Fellowship from the National Science Foundation. After earning a BS in Marine Biology at Auburn University, he completed his PhD at the University of South Alabama and Dauphin Island Sea Lab. Steven’s research integrates ecology and sociology to understand and develop strategies to overcome major challenges facing coastal communities. This work has included projects on sustainable shoreline development, coastal fisheries, ecosystem restoration, and mitigating the impacts of disasters.

 

 

Sara Shostak 
Department of Sociology
Brandeis University, MS 071
Waltham, MA 02454
Phone: 781-736-2213
Email: sshostak@brandeis.edu
Website: Brandeis Faculty Profile and CV

Sara Shostak is Associate Professor of Sociology and Chair of the Health: Science, Society, and Policy Program at Brandeis University. Her research and teaching interests include the sociology of health and illness, science and technology studies, and environmental sociology. Across these domains, she focuses on how to understand – and address – inequalities in health.

Shostak’s first book – Exposed Science: Genes, the Environment, and the Politics of Population Health – received the Robert K. Merton Book Award from the ASA’s Section on Science, Knowledge and Technology and the Eliot Freidson Outstanding Publication Award from the Medical Sociology Section. Drawing on in-depth interviews and ethnographic observation with nearly 100 environmental health scientists, policy makers, and environmental health and justice activists, Exposed Science analyzes the rise of the study of gene-environment interaction in the environmental health sciences and examines its consequences for how we understand – and seek to protect – population health.

Shostak served as an associate editor of a special issue of the American Journal of Sociology focused on how sociologists can use genetic information as a lever to illuminate dimensions of social organization and complex social processes, thereby advancing sociological theory and research methods. She leads the qualitative research component of a NINDS funded study of psychosocial dimensions of genetic information in the epilepsies. She recently has begun an ethnographic project focused on urban agriculture in New England cities.  Her research and teaching have been supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Epilepsy Foundation, among others.

 

Jennie C. Stephens 
Dean’s Professor of Sustainability Science & Policy
School of Public Policy & Urban Affairs
Associate Director of Strategic Research Collaborations
Global Resilience Institute
Northeastern University

Jennie C. Stephens is the Dean’s Professor of Sustainability Science & Policy at Northeastern University’s School of Public Policy & Urban Affairs and the Associate Director of Strategic Research Collaborations at the Global Resilience Institute at Northeastern. Her research, teaching, and community engagement focus on social and political aspects of the renewable energy transition, reducing fossil fuel reliance, and strengthening societal resilience by integrating social justice with climate and energy policy. Her work explores institutional and cultural innovation in energy, including gender diversity and energy democracy, technological optimism, and enhancing the “usability” of climate science in strengthening climate resilience. Professor Stephens received a 2017 Arab-American Frontiers Fellowship from the National Academy of Sciences, she is a 2015-2016 Leopold Leadership fellow, and her book “Smart Grid (R)Evolution: Electric Power Struggles” (Cambridge University Press, 2015) explores social and cultural debates about energy system change (co-authored with Wilson & Peterson). Before joining Northeastern University in 2016, Professor Stephens held the Blittersdorf Professorship at the University of Vermont (2014-2016) and was on the faculty at Clark University (2005-2014). She earned her PhD (2002) and MS (1998) at Caltech in Environmental Science & Engineering and her BA (1997) at Harvard in Environmental Science & Public Policy.

 

Christine Vatovec 
Research Assistant Professor
Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, College of Medicine
University of Vermont
Email: cvatovec@uvm.edu
Personal Website

Christine Vatovec is an Assistant Research Professor at the University of Vermont with joint appointments in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources and the College of Medicine. She holds an interdisciplinary PhD degree in Environment & Resources from the University of Wisconsin. Her teaching and research interests focus on sustainability science, ecological health, and environmental sociology. Christine’s research interests include: 1) investigating the environmental and human health consequences of medical practices, and 2) examining the human health benefits of contact with nature.

 

 

Emily Zimmerman, PhD., CCC-SLP 
Assistant Professor
Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders B
Bouve College of Health Sciences
Northeastern University

Professor Zimmerman’s research is focused on the link between early sucking, feeding and infant vocalizations through an array of objective, customized sensors and technologies. She studies the environmental, maternal, physiological, and genetic influences of these behaviors across patient populations and cultures. Using insights from these studies, Dr. Zimmerman creates novel therapeutic paradigms designed to enhance these early oromotor behaviors with the overarching goal of improving subsequent neurodevelopment.

Dr. Zimmerman is the Early Career Investigator for the Center for Research on Early Childhood Exposure and Development in Puerto Rico (CRECE). CRECE is utilizing Dr. Zimmerman’s non-nutritive suck (NNS) assessment immediately after birth, thus having the potential to detect exposure related effects earlier than they are typically found in biomarkers and evaluations that take place later in childhood. NNS may also provide a more nuanced understanding of dose-response relationships, increasing the study’s relevance to policy and regulatory limits in other exposure settings. In addition to NNS, CRECE assess the effects of environmental exposures on neurodevelopmental outcomes (speech, language, cognition, motor) through standardized tests and parental questionnaires in the same cohort of infants until age four.

 

 

STUDENTS

Marina Atlas
MPH Student
Northeastern University

Marina Atlas is a second-year MPH student at Northeastern. She is a graduate of Brandeis University, where she received highest honors for her thesis on regulatory barriers to effective personal care product ingredient regulation under the FDA’s Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Prior to her studies at Northeastern, Marina worked for 5 years with the US EPA, Region 1 on toxics regulation while also providing free community assistance and outreach to over 70 communities in New England by reducing risk of toxic chemical exposure in schools. Marina seeks to gain a deeper understanding of epidemiological methods and biostatistical tools for identifying environmental contaminants in communities. She is interested in studying issues of environmental health and justice, especially with regard to reproductive and urban health.

 

 

Elizabeth Boxer 
Research Co-op
Northeastern University
boxer.e@husky.neu.edu

Elizabeth Boxer is a 3rd year undergraduate at Northeastern University, pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies. She is a research assistant on the PFAS team.  She is also a research associate at the Northeastern Environmental Justice Research Collaborative. Elizabeth’s research interests include environmental health, urban policy, and the social determinants of health.  Upon graduating from Northeastern, Elizabeth plans on continuing her education with a MPH in Environmental or Urban Health.  Previously, Elizabeth completed a co-op at MIT’s Energy Initiative and studied Environmental Science abroad at Swinburne University in Australia.

 

 

Taylor Braswell 
Sociology PhD Student
Northeastern University

Taylor Braswell is a sociology Ph.D. student with an interest in the social and spatial implications of energy production, particularly in the context of planetary urbanization. As a research assistant to Professor Sara Wylie, Taylor is working to explore household energy insecurity as a social issue in oil & gas communities. Prior to attending Northeastern, Taylor received an M.A. in sociology from Saint Louis University, where his research focused on geographic information science, spatial inequalities emerging from community gardening, and local land use practices. Taylor earned a B.A. in economics at Georgia State University in Atlanta, GA.

 

 

Chelsea Canedy chelsea-canedy-photo
Biology and Political Science
Northeastern University
Canedy.c@husky.neu.edu

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.

 

 

Stephanie Clark
Sociology PhD Student
Northeastern University

Stephanie Clark-Reyna received her BA in Sociology from the University of Texas-El Paso in 2013 and finished her MA there. She held both undergraduate and graduate research assistantships on a National Institutes of Minority Health and Health Disparities/Environmental Protection Agency funded project, “Social, built and natural environmental determinants of children’s lung health – a multilevel examination.” She led a statistical analysis pairing the survey data with National- Scale Air Toxics Assessment data from the Environmental Protection Agency to examine the effects of air pollution and health on children’s academic performance. She has considerable experience as a teaching assistant.  She has presented research at the Association of American Geographers and the Southwestern Social Science Association, and has been a co-author on two articles in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, and has had additional articles published in Population and Environment, Environmental Research (2nd author), and Family and Community Health (1st author). A draft of another article will be submitted to IJERPH this summer. Clark will present at the American Sociological Association’s Annual Meeting for the first time this summer. She wants to continue studying effects of environmental toxicants on children’s health, with a focus on racial and ethnic differences in exposure and outcomes, and with an environmental justice framework.

 

 

Lauren Contorno 
Sociology PhD Student
Northeastern University
Email: contorno.l@husky.neu.edu

Lauren is a 4th year PhD student and a member of both SSEHRI and the 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.

 

 

Elicia Cousins 
Sociology PhD Student
Northeastern University
Email: cousins.e@husky.neu.edu

Elicia Cousins is a doctoral student in sociology and a research assistant in SSEHRI. She is from Tokyo, Japan and received her BA in Environmental Studies from Carleton College in Minnesota. Her previous research addressed nuclear power and environmental justice in the US and Japan, and she continues to be involved in relief work for children still living in contaminated areas of Fukushima. Based on this work, she is interested in the potential for nature immersion to promote physical and psychological health for children exposed to toxins and traumatic events. Elicia is currently researching retailer and consumer-based campaigns to reduce emerging chemical exposure, as well as the ethical barriers to reporting individual biomonitoring and personal exposure results to study participants. She is also interested in pursuing research on food justice and activism, and knowledge production surrounding nutrition and illness.

 

 

Tibrine Da Fonseca 
Sociology PhD Student
Northeastern University

Tibrine is a first year PhD student in the department of Sociology and Anthropology, and supports both the work of SSEHRI and the Institute on Urban Health Research and Practice (IUHRP) at Northeastern University.  She has a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Spanish from Simmons College.  Prior to coming to Northeastern University Tibrine worked as Lead Paralegal with the Medical-Legal Partnership Boston, working to address the social determinants of health by bringing health care and legal professionals together to address the needs of low-income and medically vulnerable patients.  Her area of focus was the impact of substandard housing conditions and utility access on childhood asthma.  She also spent two years operating a welcome center for urban refugees from the Colombian conflict as well as other parts of the world in Quito, Ecuador.  Tibrine’s research interests include the social determinants of health, community-based participatory research, and the intersection of immigrant rights and environmental justice.

 

 

Sokona Diallo
Student
Northeastern University

Sokona Diallo is a 4th year 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 hopes to connect 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.

 

 

Rachel Domond 
Research Co-op
Northeastern University

Rachel Domond is a third year Sociology student from Boston, MA, and is a member of the Honors Program and Ujima Global Leaders Program. She’s most interested in the intersections between racial and socioeconomic inequities, environmental justice, and food, and is striving to better understand disparities through research, community organizing, and advocacy. She is currently a co-op student through the ROUTES Program, working as a research assistant to Dr. Sharon Harlan on the Urban Water Innovation Network research project. This project addresses the challenges that threaten urban water systems through a sociological lens, and works to create sustainable solutions to assist marginalized communities in increasing their resilience in the face of climate change. In addition to working on the UWIN project, Rachel is the vice president of Students Against Institutional Discrimination (SAID), a politically educative racial and social justice group on campus, and a project leader on SAID’s anti-gentrification and housing justice campaign.

 

 

Nickolas Faynshteyn Nickolas Faynshteyn photo
MA Student
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Northeastern University

Nickolas is a first year graduate student in the Sociology department and 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.

 

 

Rachael Lee
Ph.D. Student
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Northeastern University

Rachael Lee is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Northeastern. She received a Bachelor’s degree in sociology from Eastern Connecticut State University in 2011 and a Master’s degree in sociology from East Carolina University in 2013.  Her interests surround health policy, the study of health professions, patient empowerment, and health disparities research. She is currently pursuing research that explores the limitations of patient empowerment as a way to meaningfully improve disadvantaged patient populations’ chronic disease management. More specifically, her research explores how type 2 diabetes self management programs reinforce neoliberal notions of individual responsibility for health while disregarding larger social and environmental factors that contribute to the onset and management of diabetes.

 

 

Clare Malone 
Research Co-op, PFAS Project
Northeastern University

Clare Malone is a Northeastern University undergraduate working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Cultural Anthropology. Her interest in environmental health, public health policy, and community activism was sparked by previous co-ops at Boston Medical Center and Pathfinder International and past research opportunities within Northeastern’s Sociology Department. She is currently on co-op with the PFAS Project as an undergraduate research assistant.

 

 

Yvette Niwa Yvette Niwa photo
Environmental Studies/International Affairs BA Student
Northeastern University
Niwa.y@husky.neu.edu

Yvette Niwa is a Northeastern University student pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies and International Affairs. She first became interested in environmental health while working on a sustainability campaign in the Japanese American community of Los Angeles. She is currently completing a co-op with Dr. Phil Brown, which involves research on perfluorinated compounds and pre-term birth in Puerto Rico. In her spare time, Yvette develops climate science curriculum for elementary school students and serves on the executive board of Northeastern University’s environmental organization.

 

 

Mia Renauld
PhD Student
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Northeastern University
Email: renauld.m@husky.neu.edu

Mia Renauld is a PhD graduate student and research assistant for SSEHRI and member of NEJRC. She received her bachelor’s degrees from University of California, Santa Cruz in Anthropology and Political Ecology. Her research interests include environmental justice, political economy, urban theory, and sustainability including past research that explored the transforming political economy of New Delhi and how it has impacted the urban poor’s rights to citizenship and access to water. She is currently researching environmental justice policies in California and how the oil complex influences the daily life of Richmond residents.

 

 

Lauren Richter 
Sociology Ph.D. Student
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Northeastern University
Email: richter.l@husky.neu.edu

Lauren Richter joined the doctoral program in Sociology and Anthropology at Northeastern University in 2013. She is a member of the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute. Prior to pursuing her Ph.D. she worked at the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment in California from 2009-2013. In 2009 and 2011 she taught courses on environmental justice at the University of San Francisco. She completed an M.A. in Sociology from Washington State University in 2008, where her masters thesis used spatial GIS models to analyze national trends in disparate environmental exposures in rural low-income communities and communities of color. She is on the board of directors of the Boston-based environmental justice organization Alternatives for Community and Environment (ACE). She currently works as a research assistant on Dr. Phil Brown and Dr. Alissa Cordner’s NSF grant “Perflourinated Chemicals: The Social Discovery of a Class of Emerging Contaminants.” Her research interests include environmental health, environmental justice, and identity. In 2015 she received the graduate department’s “Outstanding Public and Applied Research Award.”

 

 

Mariana Sarango 
Population Health PhD Student
Bouve College of Health Sciences
Northeastern University

Mariana Sarango is a student in the Population Health PhD Program in the department of Health Sciences.  She holds a BA in sociology from Wesleyan University and an MPH in Sociomedical Sciences from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, with a concentration in Urbanism and the Built Environment.  Her interests include the impact of housing, transportation, and land use policy on health of communities and on health inequities.  Her past research includes assessment of perceived water quality among public housing residents, evaluation of innovative service delivery models for people living with HIV who are disengaged from care, health impact assessment of the proposed opening of a bridge in New York City, and examination of home health hazards among marginalized elderly residents. She is currently working with Dr. Sharon Harlan as a research assistant on the National Science Foundation grant, “Urban Water Innovation Network: Transitioning toward Sustainable Urban Water Systems.”

 

 

Boris Templeton
Sociology PhD Student
Northeastern University

Boris Templeton is a doctoral student in the department of Sociology and Anthropology. Originally from New York City, he received a BA in Philosophy, Politics, and Law from Binghamton University in 2007 and a JD from Georgetown University in 2010. Previously specializing in environmental law, Boris’ research interests are now focused around environmental justice, globalization, and the sociology of law. His current focus is on the intersections between systems of transnational environmental governance and structural inequality, and the ways human rights to the environment are understood, implemented, and effectuated around the world.

 

 

Lourdes Vera 
Sociology PhD Student
Northeastern University
Email: vera.l@husky.neu.edu

Lourdes Vera is a member of the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute (SSEHRI) and a PhD student in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Northeastern University. She received her B.A. in Urban Studies from Barnard College at Columbia University where she wrote her senior thesis on “Place and Justice in Urban Agriculture” and M.A. in Teaching Earth and General Science from CUNY Brooklyn College where she continued her research on community agriculture and education. As a former teacher, she is interested in how D.I.Y. tools and data visualization can facilitate deeper understandings of scientific phenomena to mobilize individuals from all skill levels and backgrounds for environmental advocacy. She is especially interested in using citizen science to address environmental health and justice concerns with communities affected by industrial development. Currently, she is a research assistant to Prof. Sara Wylie working to develop and validate a photopaper tool to measure and map low, chronic amounts of the toxic gas hydrogen sulfide that presents health risks to communities adjacent to oil and gas facilities.

 

 

Elisabeth Wilder 
Sociology Ph.D. Student
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Northeastern University
Email: wilder.e@husky.neu.edu

Elisabeth Wilder is a PhD student with broad interests in environmental health and justice, political economy, globalization, and social movements. She received her Bachelor’s degree in political science from the Pennsylvania State University and her Master’s degree in sociology from Portland State University. Her Master’s thesis, entitled “Game Over for the Climate: The Keystone XL Pipeline on TV News,” found that mainstream television news outlets’ coverage provided viewers with a very limited basis for understanding the environmental and ultimately social threats posed by the pipeline proposal. While at Northeastern, her research has focused on the social and environmental impacts of oil and gas development, the possibilities and limitations of civic science in the context of regulatory neglect, and the role of the environmental justice movement. She has also collaborated with academic and community partners to develop a low-cost method for “gaspatch” community residents to visualize and map their exposure to hydrogen sulfide, a toxic gas associated with oil and gas extraction. A major aim of the project is to investigate whether low-cost D.I.Y. tools can help impacted communities make environmental health problems legible to regulators, policy makers and the general public.

 

 

POSTDOCS

Vanessa De La Rosa, PhD vanessa-de-la-rosa-photo
Postdoctoral Research Associate
Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute
Northeastern University
Silent Spring Institute

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 include 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 is 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.

 

 

Bridget Hanna Bridget Hanna photo 2
Postdoctoral Research Associate
Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute
Northeastern University

Bridget is a Medical Anthropologist, and is also a Visiting Scholar at the Harvard University Asia Center. 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.

 

 

Jennie Ohayon 
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Silent Spring Institute
Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute
Northeastern University
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Jennie Liss Ohayon is a joint-postdoctoral research fellow at the Silent Spring Institute, a non-profit environmental health research institute, and Northeastern University’s SSEHRI. She is currently working on projects to report back to study participants and community partners in the U.S. and Chile their exposures to endocrine disrupting chemicals. She also researches the emergence of scientific and activist concerns around industrial chemicals with Northeastern’s PFAS lab, and, in collaboration with co-investigators at the University of California, Berkeley, is evaluating the effectiveness of California-based legislation that aims to reduce or eliminate exposures to toxic substances. With the support of the Massachusetts Toxic Use Reduction Institute, she partners with high schools across the state to translate environmental health research into hands-on curriculum that helps students reduce toxic exposures. She’s a member of the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative, a network formed to address threats to federal environmental policy and data.

Jennie completed her PhD at the University of California, Santa Cruz researching the remediation of toxic waste in military Superfund sites. With research support from the EPA’s Science to Achieve Results fellowship and the National Science Foundation, she did fieldwork to evaluate how policy around public participation and environmental justice is translated into cleanup programs. She also used data from all military Superfund sites for quantitative and spatial analyses of how factors such as the race and class demographics of surrounding neighborhoods contribute to how quickly sites are remediated. During this time, she created an interactive curriculum in environmental sciences for high school students that are disproportionately affected by environmental problems and who come from communities that are underrepresented in the field of environmental science.

 

 

STAFF

Stephanie Knutson 
Grants Administrator
Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute
Northeastern University
Email: s.knutson@northeastern.edu

Stephanie Knutson joined SSEHRI in March 2015. She handles event planning and grants management and attempts to keep things running smoothly on a day-to-day basis. Stephanie is a Northeastern alumna who previously worked at the university’s Snell Library. Her interest in environmental issues and epic organizational skills led her to this position. Stephanie also serves as the Grants Coordinator and Bookkeeper for the Environmental Data & Governance Initiative (EDGI) and is a member of its Steering Committee.