Leveraging Open Data to Promote Environmental Health: Innovative Applications in Climate Change and Agriculture

November 9, 2017
1:00 pm US Eastern Time

This webinar is the third in our series, 20 Pioneers Under 40 in Environmental Public Health.

To estimate the public health impacts of hurricanes and other tropical storms, it is first necessary to assess community-level exposure to storms. To date, studies of storm impacts, including epidemiological studies, have not used a consistent method for this exposure assessment, with studies often varying in which storm hazards they incorporate to assess exposure. Dr. Brooke Anderson, Assistant Professor at Colorado State University in the Department of Environmental & Radiological Health Sciences and Faculty Associate in the Department of Statistics, described methods she and her team have developed to assess exposure to tropical storms based on various storm-related hazards (distance to storm track, wind, rainfall, and flood and tornado events). She also described open source software they have developed to help other environmental health researchers assess hurricane exposure in US communities.

Overuse of antibiotics contributes to antimicrobial resistance and is a growing threat to human health worldwide. In the US, 70% of antibiotics are sold for use in livestock feeds. Most use occurs on large industrial farms. These concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) produce so much manure that farmers export and spread waste elsewhere. CAFOs and manure spreading provide opportunities to spread antimicrobial-resistant bacteria into nearby communities. Despite this fact, we do not have solid understanding of the links between CAFOs and human infection. Dr. Joan Casey, postdoctoral scholar in the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley, and her team used nutrient management plans, Google Earth imagery, and electronic health record data to study the potential relationship between living near CAFOs and manure-applied crop fields, and antibiotic-resistant Staph infections (i.e., MRSA) in Pennsylvania. Dr. Casey discussed the results of that study and a Senate Bill 27 in California which bans the use of non-therapeutic antibiotic use in livestock feeds beginning in 2018.

Featured Speakers


Brooke AndersonBrooke Anderson, PhD, is an Assistant Professor at Colorado State University in the Department of Environmental & Radiological Health Sciences, as well as a Faculty Associate in the Department of Statistics. Her research focuses on the health risks associated with climate-related exposures, including heat waves and air pollution, for which she has conducted several national-level studies. As part of her research, she has also published a number of open source R software packages to facilitate environmental epidemiologic research. She is also the co-instructor of the Coursera specialization Mastering Software Development in R.



Joan Casey

Joan Casey, PhD, is a postdoctoral scholar in the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley. She received her doctoral degree from the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2014. 

Joan’s research focuses on using electronic health records and spatial analysis to study the relationship between emerging environmental exposures and population health. Her interests and contributions range from unconventional natural gas and oil development and environmental noise pollution to potential health risks of living near concentrated animal feeding operations. Joan’s dissertation work suggests that living near industrial agriculture may put residents at risk for antibiotic-resistant infections. 

Joan received a B.S. in Biological and Environmental Engineering from Cornell University and an M.A. in Applied Physiology from Teachers College at Columbia University. In the future, she plans to continue research related to energy, food, and land sustainability challenges. Joan enjoys running in the hills above Berkeley, in addition to running statistical regression models.


This webinar was moderated by Karen Wang, PhD, director of CHE. It lasted for 45 minutes and was recorded for our webinar and call archive.