Kelly Ferguson, PhD, MPH, is an NIH researcher whose focus is looking at how different exposures impact birth outcomes. Her interest in environmental health comes from the fact that it’s something that everyone deals with.
“It’s a concern that affects everyone and that everyone can kind of wrap their head around… people are often thinking about what chemicals are going into their body, what chemicals are in their air, what chemicals are in the food that they are eating, and so I think it’s something that is really easy to communicate with everyone about,” Dr. Ferguson says.
Her work is also looking at oxidative stress, most specifically as it relates environmental exposures in women and preterm birth. . . .
Amy Padula, PhD, has devoted much of her work to looking at how the air we breathe can impact health.
“Most of my work has been focused on air pollution exposures during pregnancy and how it affects the baby,” Dr. Padula says.
Air pollution affects everyone, but she has a unique and interesting reason why her work has focused on women who are pregnant and their children.
“We look at pregnancy because it is the special time when there is a lot developing and a lot happening. As humans, we are very vulnerable during this period of development and, in a way, during pregnancy, babies can be considered canaries in a coal mine because they develop so fast that if there are adverse changes to their development, we are able to see them more quickly than, for example, increases in mortality over 60, 70, or 80 years,” Dr. Padula explains. . . .
In a way, Allan Just, PhD has come full circle. He is now a professor and researcher at Mount Sinai, but developed his interest in children’s health after hearing a CHE webinar at the start of his career.
“There was a CHE Call in 2005, it was moderated by Michael Lerner, and it was about early life exposures and their role in the developmental origins of disease, really it was focused on cancer. But, I listened to that CHE call, and it made so much sense to me. You are going through this developmental period early in life, as a fetus and as a young child, and you are getting set up on this trajectory of who you are going to become, and if you perturb that, that is going to have consequences down the road. I thought about how all the studies that I was involved with at the time were really focused on adults. And, if you were interested in chronic diseases, which can have extremely long latencies, the relevant time period, if you are interested in the environmental contribution, might be decades before you can distinguish who does and doesn’t go on to develop disease. And, I thought ‘well it’s sort of a little bit crazy to look at adults then, because if we are interested in the environmental role, it’s too late,’” Dr. Just recalls. . . .
Meet our 20 Pioneers under 40 in Environmental Public Health: Joseph Braun, PhD, MSPH
Joseph Braun, PhD, MSPH spends his time figuring out how things that children come into contact with even before they are born can have an impact later in their lives.
“We are focused on understanding how early life environmental exposures influence children’s growth and development. We are considering the early life window now to extend from before conception in both the mother and the father, during the prenatal period in the mother, when the baby is in the womb, and the postnatal period from infancy onward till adolescence. So, we are looking at a wide range of environmental chemical exposures and how they influence children’s risk of neurobehavioral disorders like ADHD or autism as well as their risk of becoming obese or overweight. And, even how environmental factors might influence their metabolism of things like glucose or lipids. Finally, we are also trying to understand some of the biologic mechanisms that underlie these associations,” Dr. Braun says. . . .
Nourbese Flint, MA serves as the Policy Director and manager of reproductive justice programs at Black Women for Wellness (BWW). There, she directs reproductive and environmental health policy, organizes community advocacy, and manages reproductive and sexual health programming as well as civic engagement.
With her work in the policy realm and the reproductive justice world, she knows how important an intersectional approach to a topic can be. . . .
Ami Zota, ScD, MS has been working in the environmental health world since she was an undergraduate, and a main focus of her work has been looking at the intersection of environmental health and environmental justice.
Much of her research has specifically focused on “[characterizing] exposure to a wide range of environmental hazards in the general population with a real emphasis on identifying vulnerable populations or highly exposed populations,” Dr. Zota says. . . .
Meet our 20 Pioneers under 40 in Environmental Public Health: Megan Latshaw, PhD
Megan Latshaw, PhD, is all about making public health work for the people. Throughout her career, she has realized public health has the potential to affect communities.
“If you think about what it is that is killing people all around the globe, it is chronic diseases and, as we know, most chronic diseases are not infectious. The Human Genome Project has not provided the key to unlocking chronic disease; I think environmental health and epigenetics is the next frontier in figuring out how we can make the world a healthier place,” Dr. Latshaw shares. . . .
Meet our 20 Pioneers under 40 in Environmental Public Health: Sara Wylie, PhD
Sara Wylie, PhD developed an interest in science from a young age, having grown up with two developmental biologists as parents. As she got older and started asking her own questions, her focus turned to how chemicals, especially those that look like hormones to the body, can shape the life course. As she went through school and studied to be an anthropologist of science, these interests grew even more complex. . . .
CHE's Next Big Project
Hello CHE Friend,
My name is Emma, and I am CHE’s new Program Associate. I started with CHE in September and have learned so much in these three short months. I studied environmental health a bit during my MPH program at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, but my main focus was on health promotion and communications. Since starting at CHE, I have being learning all about environmental health science and listening to scientists share their work. And, I have been telling anyone and everyone I know about what I am learning because I believe this is stuff everyone should know. This is why I am so excited about starting Because Health. . . .
Like many who find themselves in environmental health, Joan Casey’s interest in studying the impacts of industrial agricultural came when she heard a startling fact.
“I got involved in doing the antibiotic use in livestock feed work because I took a course where they said that 70% of antibiotics sold for use in the US are used in animal feeds and not in human medicine. That was a really shocking statistic to me,” Dr. Casey shares. . . .