Former SSEHRI Members

Maryann Cairns
AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow
Office of Research and Development
Environmental Protection Agency

Maryann Cairns has accepted a tenure-track position as Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Michigan Technological University. She has deferred the position for one year for an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowship with the EPA’s Office of Research and Development in Washington, D.C. Cairns was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute from 2014-2015. Her research centers on issues of environmental development, water and sanitation, alternative waste treatment, waste-energy systems, and health risk from de facto wastewater irrigation.  Her dissertation, entitled “Environment, Rights, and Waste in Bolivia: Addressing Water and Sanitation Processes for Improved Infrastructure,” builds on concepts of political ecology, human rights, and critical development to evaluate the human impact of water and sanitation infrastructure placement.  She gives specific focus to wastewater treatment as a key element of this infrastructure.  Her dissertation work was funded as part of the NSF grant entitled “Sustainable Water Management Research Experience in Bolivia: Influence of a Dynamic World on Technological and Societal Solutions.” Her ongoing work addresses locally-relevant design and implementation of alternative strategies for wastewater treatment and nutrient management in Bolivia, Belize, and the U.S.  Cairns is particularly interested in the use of open source solutions for data collection and mapping and has employed KoBo and Open Data Kit software in her work.

 

Jennifer Carrera
Assistant Professor of Sociology
Michigan State University
Email: jcarrera@msu.edu

Jennifer Carrera was a postdoctoral research associate with SSEHRI in 2014-2015. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Michigan State University. At MSU she has a joint appointment between the Department of Sociology and the Environmental Science and Policy Program.  Dr. Carrera is part of a campus-wide Global Water Initiative. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology and an M.S. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, an M.S. in Biostatistics from Emory University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Boston University.  Her doctoral research explored the context of water shutoffs in Detroit, Michigan and failing septic systems in Lowndes County, Alabama.  Through environmental engineering Dr. Carrera considered mechanisms for incorporating community member needs and values into technology design for sanitation systems in Sub-Saharan Africa.  Her area of research focuses on access to clean water and sanitation in low-income populations domestically and internationally.  She uses water as a lens through which to examine mechanisms of exclusion and through her work aims to articulate the everyday practices that produce and reproduce environmental injustices.  Through citizen science research and community based participatory research she aims to provide communities with resources to make inequities visible.  By doing so she hopes to transform data as a tool for power within marginalized communities and direct technology design and policy initiatives towards integrated, sustainable solutions for improving access to environmental resources for low-income populations.

 

 

Nick Chaves nick-chaves-photo
BA Student
Environmental Studies and International Affairs
Northeastern University

Nicholas is a student at Northeastern University pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies and International Affairs. Nicholas was the first co-op student to work with Dr. Phil Brown which involved research on the social discovery of perfluorinated chemicals. Other interests include international and domestic environmental policy and law. Nicholas is also involved with Delta Tau Delta Fraternity on campus.

 

Elizabeth Hoover
Assistant Professor
American Studies and Ethnic Studies
Brown University
Email: elizabeth_m_hoover@brown.edu

Elizabeth Hoover is an Assistant Professor of American Studies and Ethnic Studies at Brown University where she teaches courses on environmental health and justice in Native communities, indigenous food movements, Native American museum curation, and community engaged research. During the 2014-2015 academic year she worked under a Ford Postdoctoral Fellowship as a visiting scholar at the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute at Northeastern University. Elizabeth received her MA and PhD in Anthropology at Brown University, with a focus on environmental and medical Anthropology as it applies to Native American communities responding to environmental contamination. She is currently working on a book manuscript “’The River is In Us;’ Fighting Toxins in a Mohawk Community,” which is an ethnographic exploration of Akwesasne Mohawks’ response to Superfund contamination and environmental health research. Her second book project From ‘Garden Warriors’ to ‘Good Seeds;’ Indigenizing the Local Food Movement explores Native American farming and gardening projects around the country: the successes and challenges faced by these organizations, the ways in which participants define and envision concepts like food sovereignty, and importance of heritage seeds. Elizabeth has published articles about environmental reproductive justice in Native American communities, the cultural impact of fish advisories on Native communities, and health social movements.

 

Max Liboiron
Assistant Professor of Sociology
Memorial University of Newfoundland
Newfoundland, Canada
Email: maxliboiron@gmail.com

Max Liboiron was a postdoctoral fellow at the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute in 2013-2014. She is now an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Memorial University of Newfoundland and a member of the Superstorm Research Lab. She is currently researching theories of scale in relation to environmental action. Her dissertation, “Redefining Pollution: Plastics in the Wild,” investigates scientific and advocate techniques used to define plastic pollution given that plastics are challenging centuries-old concepts of pollution as well as norms of pollution control, environmental advocacy, and concepts of contamination. Her work has been published in the Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies, Social Movement Studies: Journal of Social, Cultural and Political Protest, the Encyclopedia of Consumption and Waste: The Social Science of Garbage, and in the edited volume Accumulation: The Material Politics of Plastic. She writes for the Discard Studies Blog and is a trash artist and activist.

 

Mercedes Lyson

Mercedes received her PhD in Sociology from Brown University in May of 2013. Her dissertation was a qualitative study on the class politics of Rhode Island’s alternative food movement, which sought to understand the tension between individual self-governance around health through lifestyle-based consumption habits (i.e. participation in food alternatives), and the active policing (for example, through well-intentioned public health policies) of vulnerable and disadvantaged people who are unable or unwilling to achieve “optimum health.” Beyond her work on food systems, health, the body, and social theory, Mercedes has worked extensively on environmental health projects through Phil Brown’s former Brown University Contested Illnesses Research Group, and has also worked on urban/spatial/GIS research projects through Brown University’s Spatial Structures in the Social Sciences Initiative. As a postdoc at Northeastern, she worked with Professors Andrea Parker, Holly Jimison, and Misha Pavel on an evaluation of Aetna Foundation-funded grant projects for digital/mobile health interventions, with a focus on disadvantaged communities and the alleviation of health disparities.

 

Bindu Panikkar
Assistant Professor
Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources
University of Vermont

Bindu Panikkar was a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Environmental Health and Research Ethics at the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute at Northeastern University in 2013-2014  and a Research Affiliate at the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Science, Brown University where she co-ordinated the Community Outreach and Translation Core of the Brown Children’s Environmental Health Center and the Community Outreach Core of the Brown University Superfund Research Program. She recently accepted a position as Assistant Professor in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont. She also served as the Program Director of Hospitals for a Healthy Environment in RI. Her current research work includes the ethical and legal challenges in communicating individual biomonitoring personal exposure results to study participants,’ the ‘ethical implications of fetal tissue research’ at the Brown Children’s Environmental Health Center and science technology and society perspective on ‘thorium based nuclear power and the dimensions of risk to society, environment, health and security. Her prior work and publications include an environmental justice and community based participatory work funded by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health on occupational health disparities among immigrant populations in Somerville, MA; the ethics of uranium mining research; and the teratogenic effects of depleted uranium. Bindu has a Ph.D. in Environmental Health and MA/MS in Environmental Policy and Planning/Environmental Health from Tufts University.

 

Monica Ramirez-Andreotta, M.P.A., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
University of Arizona

Dr. Monica Ramirez-Andreotta is an Assistant Professor at the University of Arizona and a former faculty member of the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute at Northeastern University. Additionally, Dr. Ramirez-Andreotta was part of Northeastern University’s Superfund Research Program Community Engagement and Research Translation Cores. Dr. Ramirez-Andreotta’s areas of research include: environmental contamination and food quality and phytotechnologies to improve soil and air quality. In parallel, Dr. Ramirez-Andreotta is building citizen science programs to increase public participation in environmental health research, developing tools that can provide more robust exposure estimates and designing effective risk communication and report-back strategies that will improve environmental health literacy. She is dedicated to early academic outreach to underrepresented students and engaging underserved communities whose lives are affected by environmental health issues with increasing prevalence. Dr. Ramirez-Andreotta has a PhD in Soil, Water and Environmental Science from the University of Arizona that focused on integrating the fundamentals of environmental science, human exposure assessment, and developing methods for achieving environmental health justice. She also has a Masters of Public Administration in Environmental Science and Policy from Columbia University, and undergraduate degrees in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and Photography. For her dissertation project, Gardenroots she conducted a controlled greenhouse study along with a co-created citizen science program to characterize the uptake of arsenic by homegrown vegetables near a Superfund site in Arizona and designed graphically-rich materials to report the data back to participants. Lastly, Dr. Ramirez-Andreotta was the winner of the 14th annual Karen Wetterhan Award from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

 

Dvera Saxton
Assistant Professor of Anthropology
California State University – Fresno

Dvera Saxton was a post-doctoral research associate in SSEHRI in 2013-2014. She completed her Ph.D. in anthropology at American University. Her dissertation, entitled “Layered Disparities, Layered Vulnerabilities: Farmworker Health and Agricultural Corporate Power On and Off the Farm” is based off of two years of ethnographic field research in the Pájaro and Salinas Valleys of California’s Central Coast. Through engaged explorations of farmworkers’ experiences with the workers’ compensation system, pesticide policies and practices, state and non-profit social services, and the development of agribusiness-sponsored corporate social responsibility and philanthropy programs, she documents how many of the policies and practices proposed as solutions to farmworker health actually perpetuate vulnerabilities and social and environmental suffering. During her research, Dvera mobilized a combination of methodological approaches, developing strong rapport with farmworker families and actively participating in the campaign against the toxic soil fumigant pesticide methyl iodide. She plans to continue her research and organizing around farmworkers’ knowledge of and experiences with toxic pesticides and work-related injuries within the context of transnational agricultural migration. She would also like develop curriculum and trainings for different audiences that foster trans-worker solidarity as well as alternative, non-capitalist strategies to redress shared social and environmental harms in different communities.