Agents of Change: Amplifying voices of future leaders in environmental health and justice

July 30, 2020
1:00 pm US Eastern Time

The face of science is changing. Increased diversity within the world of environmental health research is spurring the innovative ideas and solutions to push our planet forward in a healthy, more just direction.

The George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health has partnered with Environmental Health News to provide a space for the environmental health leaders of tomorrow to explore the intersection of research, health, diversity and justice.

"Agents of Change" is an ongoing series featuring the stories, analyses and perspectives of next generation environmental health leaders who come from historically under-represented backgrounds in science and academia.

During this webinar, Dr. Ami Zota, the founder and director of Agents of Change, facilitated a Q&A discussion with four of the fellows who participated in the program this year to discuss their ongoing research, activism, and experiences with publishing their ideas in the public sphere. Fellows Brianna VanNoy, MPH, Ashley Gripper, MPH, Deniss Martinez, MS, and Max Aung, MPH, PHD, have published articles in EHN.org, focused on prioritizing inclusion in environmental health, food sovereignty, the ecology of indigenous cultural fire practices, and balancing energy needs with community health. This was the first of two webinars covering the Agents of Change fellowship. You can follow Agents of Change on Twitter at @AgentschangeEH.

Featured Speakers

Ami Zota, ScD, MS, is collaborating with EHN on Agents of Change. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental & Occupational Health at the George Washington University Milken School of Public Health. Dr. Zota’s work seeks to secure environmental justice and improve health equity through advancements in science, policy, and clinical practice. Her research identifies novel pathways linking social disparities, environmental exposures, and reproductive and children’s health. She received a career development award from the National Institutes of Health for her research on environmental health disparities and was recently recognized as a Pioneer Under 40 in Environmental Public Health by the Collaborative on Health and the Environment. She is currently an Associate Editor of Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology and on the Editorial Boards of Environmental Health Perspectives and Environmental Epigenetics.

Dr. Zota is equally committed to developing innovative approaches for science translation so that her research can more effectively be used to inform individual and collective decision-making. Her research has been featured in high-impact national and international media publications including the Washington Post, LA Times, USA Today, Huffington Post, and the Atlantic Monthly. She has helped shape health and safety standards for consumer product chemicals by participating in legislative briefings, providing technical assistance to the NGO community, and communicating science through mainstream and social media outlets. 

She received her masters and doctorate in environmental health at the Harvard School of Public Health and then completed postdoctoral fellowships at Silent Spring Institute and UCSF Program on Reproductive Health. Follow her on Twitter @amizota


Max Aung, PhD, MPH, is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Michigan, School of Public Health. He is also a Health Policy Research Scholar alumnus of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Max's Twitter handle is @max_aung and he can also be reached at maxaung@umich.edu.


Ashley Gripper, MPH, is a PhD Candidate in the Environmental Health Department at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She is also an Health Policy Research Scholar, a program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and an active member of Soil Generation, a Black and Brown-led coalition of urban farmers, gardeners, and food justice activists. Through her policy work with Soil Generation, she is a part of the team responsible for designing the Urban Agriculture Plan for the entire City of Philadelphia. Ashley's Twitter handle is @ashgrip_


Deniss Martinez, MS, is a PhD Student at UC Davis in the Graduate Group in Ecology. She is also a Health Policy Research Scholar with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Contact her on Twitter at @DenissJMartinez or via email at djmartinez@ucdavis.edu




Brianna VanNoy, MPH, is a research associate at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. Brianna can be reached at bnvannoy@gwu.edu. Brianna's Twitter handle is @BriannaNVanNoy.



This webinar was moderated by Karen Wang, PhD, director of CHE. It lasted for 70 minutes and was recorded for our call and webinar archive.