I am passionate about engaging with diverse communities in my work. I work on several projects that have an explicit focus on equity and messaging to diverse communities. One project, entitled “Nitrate well water testing in agricultural communities: Improving environmental health communication with health behavior theory,” was developed based on needs identified through discussion with community groups and members in the Lower Yakima Valley. In Washington, for well connections with fewer than 15 individual homes and fewer than 25 people, the burden of testing and remediation rests on the well owner. The initial step for a well owner to identify a problem is to perform and interpret results of a water quality test. This testing must be repeated every six months using a certified lab. Previous work shows that well-water testing rates are low in this area, and the community expressed frustration at the lack of linguistically and culturally appropriate information materials. The outcomes of the project included clear identification of barriers to well-water testing and development of materials and workshop activities to promote access to clean water. I have also developed an active area of research in WA schools including Renton, Highline, Federal Way and Yakima School districts. These school districts are all highly impacted by environmental exposures and represent diverse student populations from underserved communities. By explicitly considering the impact of interventions on indoor air quality in these schools, my research goals are to provide actionable information to reduce impact of traffic, aircraft and wildfire smoke on children’s health.
As a young investigator, I am committed to diversity, inclusion and equity principles that guide my research as well as my interactions with students, colleagues, workers and communities. In research, I intend to accomplish this through community and stakeholder engagement, exposure assessments that include vulnerable communities, new partnerships and improved communication tools. In teaching, I am committed to highlighting important barriers, such as the lack of Spanish language information about many environmental and occupational exposures, and to challenging students and colleagues to devise and promote solutions. I believe that staff and students and all members of the department must feel included and valued to be engaged. As a mentor, I strive to create an environment where all feel empowered to share their experiences and ideas.