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

October 13, 2020
12:00 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 El'gin Avila, MPH, CPH, Mỹ Dzung Chu, MSPH, Ans Irfan, MD, MPH, and Brenda Trejo, MPHhave published articles in EHN.org focused on the public health crisis of displacement and exclusion of communities of color in decision making, housing insecurity and its disproportionate impact on the health of people of color, 'Agricultural Exceptionalism' or lack of farmworkers' legal rights perpetuating exploitation and abuse, and the importance of acknowledging racism in environmental health to address injustice.

This was the second of two webinars covering the Agents of Change fellowship. You can follow Agents of Change on Twitter at @AgentschangeEH. To learn more about the project and read the blogs you can also go to https://www.agentsofchangeineh.com/.

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



El'gin Avila, MPH, CPH, is a PhD student studying Industrial Hygiene at the University of Minnesota and the founder of Equitable Health Solutions. You can reach him at elgin@eqhsolutions.com or on Twitter @ElginAvila





Mỹ Dzung Chu, MSPH, is a first-generation Vietnamese immigrant, Gates Millennium Scholar, and PhD candidate at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, researching housing and environmental health disparities among low-income and immigrant households. She also organizes with @DotNot4Sale and has interned with Health Care for the Homeless of Western Massachusetts. You can reach her at mchu@email.gwu.edu or on Twitter @mydz_C.

Ans Irfan, MD, MPH, is a doctor of public health (DrPH) student and an adjunct professor at the Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University. He is also a Health Policy Research Scholar with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. He can be contacted at ansirfan@gwu.edu or on Twitter @phscientist. 



Brenda Trejo, MPH is a PhD Student in the Environmental and Occupational Health Department at The George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. You can reach her at @EOHBrenda.




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.