Director of Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute
University Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Health Sciences
360 Huntington Avenue, 310 INV
Boston, MA 02115
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.
Professor of Health Sciences and Sociology
Bouve College of Health Sciences
College of Social Sciences and Humanities
Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute
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).
Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
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. Steven’s research integrates ecology and sociology to understand and develop strategies to overcome major challenges facing coastal communities. Most recent and ongoing projects in his research lab focus on sustainable shoreline development, coastal fisheries, ecosystem restoration, and mitigating the impacts of disasters. Steven leads Northeastern’s formal partnership with The Nature Conservancy, and he is also active in fisheries management as an appointed member of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council’s Standing Scientific and Statistical Consensus Committee (SSC). He has also served on a National Academies of Sciences Consensus Committee on data needs and management strategies for recreational fisheries in the United States.
Assistant Professor of Sociology & Anthropology and Health Sciences
Associate Director of Graduate Training for SSEHRI
Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute Core Faculty
Laura Senier holds a joint appointment as Assistant Professor in Sociology & Anthropology and in Health Sciences. She holds an MPH in epidemiology and social and behavioral science from the Boston University 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 research 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.
Assistant Professor of Environmental Health in the Department of Health Sciences and Civil and Environmental Engineering
Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute Core Faculty
Julia Varshavsky is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Health at Northeastern University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Health Sciences, Bouvé College of Health Sciences, and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering. She will be focusing on environmental exposures and maternal-child health outcomes and will continue to work on biomonitoring studies and advancing risk assessment in vulnerable communities.
Before joining Northeastern, Julia served as a research scientist for the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA, Cal EPA) to conduct biomonitoring studies of health-related chemical exposures, and before that was a postdoctoral researcher in environmental epidemiology and biostatistics for the Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment (PRHE) at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), where she conducted biologically-based population-level studies on exposure and health risks associated with endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), including polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), per- and poly-fluorinated alkyl substances (PFASs), and organophosphate flame retardants (OPFRs). Specifically, her recent work highlights maternal-fetal exposure to PBDEs, PFASs, and OPFRs during mid-gestation in relation to biomarkers of placental development and disease that are associated with maternal and fetal health complications. Julia earned her MPH and PhD in environmental health sciences at the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health. Her dissertation research focused on developing methods for; characterizing disparities in, and evaluating dietary sources of, cumulative phthalates exposure. Prior to graduate school, Julia facilitated scientific dialogue and research translation around developmental impacts of environmental contaminants as the Reproductive Health Working Group coordinator for the Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE).
Assistant Professor of Sociology and Health Sciences
Associate Director of SSEHRI for Community Group Engagement
Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute
Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Office: 338 International Village
Sara Wylie is an Assistant Professor at Northeastern University with a joint appointment in Sociology/Anthropology and Health Sciences, where she is a member of the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute. Wylie seeks to develop new modes of studying and intervening in large-scale environmental health issues through a fusion of social scientific, scientific and art/design practices, and is engaged in developing open-source research projects on low cost thermal imaging, low cost imaging of water pollution, community-based methods for detection of hydrogen sulfide among other civic science projects. Her book, Fractivism: Corporate Bodies and Chemical Bonds published by Duke University Pressis 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.
Wylie develops Citizen Science tools for studying environmental health issues, including methods for mapping community exposure to the neurotoxic gas hydrogen sulfide, crowdsource methods for analysis of images from environmental disasters, and methods for performatively visualizing environmental data.
Recently Wylie cofounded the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative (EDGI). EDGI is a collaboration of academics and non-profits working to track and respond to changes in U.S. federal environmental governance. Wylie has co-edited with Rebecca Lave EDGI’s 100 Days and Counting series of rapid response, public reports detailing and contextualizing changes in environmental governance under the Trump Administration.
Sara Wylie is 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. She received her Ph.D. from MIT’s History, Anthropology and Science, Technology and Society (HASTS) Program.
Wylie is also a JBP Environmental Health Fellow with Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health. In 2017 she was recognized by the Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE) as one of 20 Pioneers in Environmental Health under 40. Her CHE webinar summarizes her book, work with Public Lab and EDGI.
School of Law, School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs
Professor Baker joined the Northeastern faculty in 2017. She works closely with colleagues in Northeastern’s Global Resilience Institute, linking it to the School of Law’s Center for Law, Innovation and Creativity (CLIC). She teaches courses at the law school and in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities related to her research interests in environmental law and energy law.
Professor Baker served as an Air Force officer prior to her honorable discharge under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and became a vocal advocate for repeal of the policy. Following her graduation from law school, Professor Baker clerked for Justice Roderick Ireland of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. She also worked as a corporate and project finance associate for Bingham McCutchen, initially in Boston and later in Japan. Professor Baker completed a William H. Hastie Fellowship at the University of Wisconsin Law School, where she received her LLM. In 2016, she won a Fulbright award and spent a year in Mexico exploring energy reform, climate change and indigenous rights.
Before joining Northeastern’s faculty, Professor Baker spent three years as an associate professor of law at the William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawai’i, where she was the founding director of the Energy Justice Program. Prior to that, she served on the faculty at University of San Francisco School of Law.
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.
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences
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
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.
Art + Design and Public Policy
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.
Professor, Department of Philosophy
Director, Ethics Institute
Phone: (617) 373-3619
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.
Sara Shostak is an Associate Professor at Brandeis University, where she teaches in the Department of Sociology and the Health: Science, Society and Policy Program. She is the author of Exposed Science: Genes, the Environment, and the Politics of Population Health (University of California Press, 2013), which was awarded 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. She served as an associate editor of a special issue of the American Journal of Sociology, Exploring Genetics and Social Structure and has an extensive record of publications on whether and how genetic information shapes people’s lives and life chances. Her current research focuses on urban agriculture in Massachusetts. She is the editor of Volume 18 of Advances in Medical Sociology, entitled Food Systems and Health. Shostak’s research and teaching have been supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Merck Family Fund, the ASA Teaching Enhancement Fund, the Epilepsy Foundation, and the University of California Toxic Substances Research and Teaching Program, 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
Jennie C. Stephens is the Director of the School of Public Policy & Urban Affairs and the Dean’s Professor of Sustainability Science & Policy at Northeastern. Professor Stephens is also the Director for Strategic Research Collaborations at Northeastern’s Global Resilience Institute. 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 is a Fellow at the Gund Institute pf Environment, an Adjunct Research Assistant Professor at the University of Vermont College of Medicine, and Research Affiliate and Lecturer at the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources. 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
Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders B
Bouve College of Health Sciences
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.
Elizabeth Boxer graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies in 2018. She was a research assistant on the PFAS team. She was 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.
Miranda P. Dotson
Ph.D. Student, Sociology and Cultural Anthropology
Miranda Dotson is a current Graduate Research Fellow to the National Science Foundation and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Cultural Anthropology and French Language & Culture from American University (’21) and, as of Fall 2021, is a PhD student to the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Northeastern University. Her research interests include community-based participatory research and the impacts of CBPR on local activism in communities fighting for environmental justice, as well as expanding commitments to social justice and political activism within the fields of social science. Her work has been published in Environmental Justice, The Nation, and The American Agora. She currently works as the Lead Qualitative Research Manager to an interdisciplinary, mixed methods and longitudinal cohort study that documents the experiences and behaviors of college students ages 18-22 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Download Miranda’s CV Here
Sociology and Cultural Anthropology
Clare Malone graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Cultural Anthropology in 2018. 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 did a co-op with the PFAS Project as an undergraduate research assistant. She plans to work in the public health field before pursuing a graduate degree in Public Health.
Environmental Studies & International Affairs
Yvette Niwa graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies and International Affairs in 2018. She first became interested in environmental health while working on a sustainability campaign in the Japanese American community of Los Angeles. She completed 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 served on the executive board of Northeastern University’s environmental organization. She plans to move back to Los Angeles to study for the GRE and apply to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) graduate programs.
Jennie Ohayon, PhD
Silent Spring Institute
Jennie Liss Ohayon is a research scientist at the Silent Spring Institute, a non-profit environmental health research institute. 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 recently partnered with high schools across the state to translate environmental health research into hands-on curriculum that helps students reduce toxic exposures. She works with the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative, a network formed to address threats to federal environmental policy and data, to track changes to EPA’s structure and science production.
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.
Lauren Richter, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor Environmental Studies Rhode Island School of Design
Lauren Richter is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at the Rhode Island School of Design, where she teaches and does research on social inequality and the environment. She uses qualitative interviews, ethnography, and archival approaches to broadly examine responses to adverse environmental health impacts. Currently she studies U.S. regulatory frameworks and scientific knowledge/ignorance production to understand how inequality shapes pollution exposure and recourse.
Prior to joining RISD, Lauren received a Leadership Grant from the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation, spending a year as a research fellow at the Silent Spring Institute and Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute at Northeastern University. Between M.A. and Ph.D. degrees, she worked at the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment in California, and taught courses on Environmental Justice at the University of San Francisco. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from Northeastern University.
Cole Alder graduated from Northeastern University with a combined BS in Sociology and Environmental Studies, with a minor in Ethics. He is a research assistant on the PFAS team, and served as a research associate at the Northeastern Environmental Justice Research Collaborative. Cole became focused on issues of environmental and racial justice while volunteering for political campaigns in his home town, Richmond, VA. He also conducted previous research on philanthropy and its impacts on public health, and his studies in philosophy have pushed him towards issues of justice. Upon graduating from Northeastern, Cole will likely pursue non-profit work, and potentially a Ph.D. in sociology with a concentration in environment and health.
Marina (Goreau) Atlas is a 2nd year graduate student at Northeastern University. She received a BA/BS in Environmental Studies and a Social Justice and Social Policy minor in 2012 from Brandeis University, earning 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 served as an Environmental Protection Specialist, Criminal Intelligence Specialist, and Team leader working with the US EPA, Region 1 for 5 years on toxics regulation while also providing free community assistance and outreach to over 70 communities in New England by reducing the risk of preventable toxic chemical exposure in schools. She was recognized a 2011 National Science Foundation scholar for this work, presenting on it at conferences like the 15th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference/5th International Conference on Green & Sustainable Chemistry.
Masters of Public Health in Urban Health Candidate
Since 2015, she has worked with the PFAS-Project lab at SSEHRI. She recently did a practicum at Silent Spring Institute, working with the PFAS-Research, Education, and Action for Community Health (PFAS-REACH) project. Previously her work applied epidemiological methods and biostatistical tools that she learned at Northeastern to identify, characterize, and re-assess, ecological-exposure to PFAS and related health effects observed in nearby communities. Marina’s research interests include exposure to inorganic chemicals as they impact bodily systems, with regard to environmental health and justice and urban health. Particularly, she is interested in learning about how the impacts of PFAS compounds on individuals, their families, and communities can be mitigated through strategic science translation.
Sociology PhD Student
Taylor Harris Braswell is a Sociology PhD student at Northeastern University. His primary interest is in using geographic information science tools to study the political economy of urbanization and natural resource extraction. Particularly, Taylor focuses on the linkages between urbanization and energy infrastructures, as well as how urbanization processes create conflictual land uses on urban peripheries. Before joining Northeastern, Taylor earned an MA in sociology from Saint Louis University, where he researched local demographic trends and land use practices, and a BA in economics from Georgia State University in Atlanta.
Sociology PhD Student
Stephanie Clark-Reyna received her BA and MA in Sociology from the University of Texas-El Paso in 2013 and 2015. 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 and has considerable experience as a teaching assistant. She has presented research at the Association of American Geographers, the American Sociological Association, and the Southwestern Social Science Association conferences, 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), Family and Community Health (1st author), and BMC Medical Education (2nd author). She was awarded the Ford Foundation Pre Dissertation fellowship and is currently studying healthcare provider’s perceptions, attitudes and training on environmental health and clinical practice in Texas. 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, through an environmental justice framework.
Sociology PhD Student
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
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.
Jesse (Card) DiValli
Sociology PhD Student
Jesse (Card) DiValli is a PhD student, coming to Northeastern after completing his M.A. of Sociology at Howard University. He is a member of the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute (SSEHRI), where he pursues his interest in social/environmental interactions, particularly where people or communities are being negatively affected by human-caused environmental conditions. He is particularly interested in conducting social science research that responds to the needs of disadvantaged communities and informs public policy, especially in the urban environments.
Sociology PhD Student
Allison is a PhD student in Sociology at Northeastern University, with a B.A. in Environmental Analysis and Policy from Pitzer College. Prior to coming to Northeastern Allison served as Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines, working in the coastal resources management (CRM) sector to build local capacities and cross-sector coordination to address mounting socio-environmental concerns. Allison also served as an Americorps member with the American Red Cross, working over 1500 hours in emergency response and preparedness education. Passionate about the intersection of environmental disasters, armed conflict, and gender studies, Allison hopes to draw attention to the power women possess to redefine what is expected of them under conditions of social stress and to challenge male dominance in humanitarian action. Her research interests include exploring the potential for international aid organizations to enhance the capacity of women-led networks to better meet the needs of marginalized communities across ethnopolitical boundaries during protracted crises.
Marine and Environmental Science Department
Social-Ecological Sustainability Lab
National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow
Kelsi Furman is a first year PhD student in Northeastern’s Marine and Environmental Science Department and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. Working with Steven Scyphers in the Social-Ecological Sustainability Lab, Kelsi’s research is focused on understanding how contributors of environmental injustice impact societal views and ecological variation for coastal planning. Kelsi holds a BS in Environmental Science from Northeastern, and spent the past year working for the Marine and Environmental Science Department as a research technician and teaching assistant at Northeastern’s Marine Science Center, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, and the University of Washington.
Sociology Ph.D. Student
Jamie Hanna is a PhD student in the Sociology Department and a member of the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute (SSEHRI). Jamie completed her BA in Law, Politics, and Society and Sociology at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. As an undergraduate, Jamie worked as a research assistant on projects that included midwifery licensure and legal mobilization as well as an ethnographic study of legalization of cannabis in Colorado. Jamie’s current research interests include community response to environmental disasters with a focus on the disparate impacts of those disasters.
Sociology Ph.D. Student
Xena Itzkowitz is a PhD student in Sociology. She received her BA in International Studies and Environmental Studies from American University, her MA in International Relations from American University, and her MA in Natural Resources and Sustainable Development from the United Nations University for Peace. Her previous research investigated both the physical and social science of microplastics and plastics, and decolonization. She has previously worked with the Norwegian Institute for Water Research (Water and Society branch), and the Smithsonian Institution. She is interested in centering indigenous research methodologies and indigenous voices, and in creating space for marginalized people to represent their own interests in academia. She aims to pursue future research in the duality of bottled water as both a luxury product and a survival necessity.
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
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.
Sociology and Environmental Studies
Kira Mok is a second-year undergraduate honors student at Northeastern University pursuing a combined Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Environmental Studies. She has worked as a research assistant in the Wylie Lab since January 2020. Her work in the Wylie Lab focuses on low-cost citizen science testing of hydrogen sulfide and other pollutants on homes near oil and gas facilities in Texas. She is also part of a grant proposal for a study that will test the importance of a gratitude-based mindset, which emphasizes the services EJ communities provide to the affluent surrounding areas. These experiences have furthered her interest in community-based research and environmental justice. She is excited to be a research assistant in the PFAS lab where she will focus on the contamination site tracker and the project website. She plans to engage in, throughout her undergraduate career and beyond, research that advocates for communities disproportionately affected by environmental issues.
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Grace Poudrier is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology & Anthropology at Northeastern University, a research assistant at the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute (SSEHRI), and a member of the Environmental Data Justice Initiative (EDGI). She studies mechanisms of knowledge production, ignorance, and agnotology in the field of environmental health, particularly in the contexts of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and hydraulic fracturing. Her work draws from the sociology of the environment, medicine, and STS, and has been published in Engaging Science, Technology, and Society, Environmental Research and Public Health, and Sexual Medicine. Prior to graduate school, Grace worked in clinical research at NYU Langone Medical Center, where she coordinated mixed methods research on gender affirming surgery for the Hansjorg Wyss Department of Plastic Surgery. She received her B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College in 2011, where she studied the sociology of health, illness, and environmental health politics.
Environmental Science and Math, B.S. Student
Ricky Salvatore is a fourth-year undergraduate student pursuing a B.S. in environmental science and mathematics. He is interested in the application of statistical analysis to environmental and health sciences, in an effort to address systemic injustices facing disadvantaged communities across the country and throughout the world. He is a research assistant on the PFAS project, primarily working on the contamination site tracker and maintaining the project website. Ricky is from New Hampshire, and became interested in studying environmental health problems when PFAS-related cancer clusters were identified in a nearby town. He plans to continue learning about and focusing on environmental justice for the remainder of his time at Northeastern and beyond.
Marine and Environmental Sciences PhD Student
Savannah Swinea is a PhD Student under Dr. Steven Scyphers in the Social-Ecological Sustainability Lab in the Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences at Northeastern University. Savannah received her BS in Environmental Sciences from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and her undergraduate thesis detailed the economic impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on Gulf fisheries. She worked as a research technician in a fish ecology and coastal oceanography lab at UNC’s Institute of Marine Sciences prior to beginning her doctoral work. Her research interests include applying a social-ecological systems framework to coastal systems like fisheries and identifying how mental models of coastal systems from diverse stakeholders differ at multiple scales of community complexity.
Sociology PhD Student
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.
Bella Raponi is a third-year undergraduate student at Northeastern University pursuing a combined Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science and Chemistry. She is a research assistant on the PFAS project and focuses on the contamination site tracker and the project website. She first became interested in environmental chemistry while aboard a research vessel traveling from San Diego, California to Seward, Alaska. This was followed by a field study in Iceland for volcanic and glacial processes; these diverse experiences further developed Bella’s interest in environmental issues and led her to the PFAS Project for her first co-op.
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. Lourdes won the Sociology Department’s Outstanding Contributions to Public Sociology award for her work with EDGI, including webmaster, Steering Committee member, and member of Environmental Data Justice working group; and for her community-based participatory research work developing a low cost tool for community monitoring of hydrogen sulfide that has helped build a grassroots research organization in Karnes County Texas.
Elisabeth Wilder is a PhD Candidate in Sociology whose research centers on environmental health and justice. Her dissertation critically examines industry and community-based visions and discourses of water justice and sustainability in the United States. Her past work has examined 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 transformative potential of the environmental justice movement. Elisabeth is a co-founding member of the ASA Section on Environmental Sociology’s Committee on Racial Equity. In 2019, she received the Department of Sociology and Anthropology’s Outstanding Teaching Award.
POSTDOCS AND RESEARCH SCIENTISTS
Martha Powers, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute PROTECT (Puerto Rico Testsite for Exploring Contamination Threats) Superfund Research Program
Martha Powers is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with SSEHRI and a Trainee with PROTECT. As part of SSEHRI, she is working with the Silent Spring Institute on the project PFAS-REACH (Research, Education, and Action for Community Health) to evaluate the effects of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances on the immune systems of young children in local communities that have been exposed to contaminated drinking water, and to document the experiences of those affected. With PROTECT, she is part of Project 1: Phthalate Exposure and Molecular Epidemiologic Markers of Preterm Birth Among Women in Puerto Rico, as well as the Research Translation Core.
Martha joined SSEHRI to combine her epidemiology training with how to translate results into public health practice. She received her PhD from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Environmental Epidemiology and Exposure Science. She was awarded an F31 from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences for her dissertation research on evaluating the relationship between exposure to inorganic arsenic and nonmalignant respiratory health outcomes in American Indian communities. Prior to that, she completed her Master of Public Health and Master of Environmental Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.
Mariana Sarango, PhD
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.”
Melanie Hayes Smith
Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute
Melanie joined SSEHRI in August 2018. She handles research grant administration, event planning, and operations management for SSEHRI. Melanie has worked at Northeastern for six years, previously managing education programs and partnership development for research centers and grants in the COE such as PROTECT. She received her BA in International Relations at the University of Utah, and is also currently working towards her MA in Sociology in the CSSH at Northeastern, focusing on environmental and human health.