Human Centered Research & Socially Conscious Action: Students in Dialogue
Ingber, Susan Zells
Royster, Jacqueline J.
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Susan Zells Ingber - I have completed a number of research projects and other work that addressed the theme of Human-Centered Research and Socially Conscious Action primarily within the realm of human health. For example, I recently wrote a research paper comparing the scientific methodologies employed by molecular epidemiologists versus the citizen-expert alliances involved in Louisiana’s Cancer Alley environmental justice movement to prove or disprove community health risks and problems associated with chemical exposures. My analysis suggested that the biomedicalization of environment — and ultimately risk — resulting from the advent of biomarkers in the molecular epidemiology discipline has created a lay-scientific culture clash. I found that these two populations differed not only on how environment should be represented in risk assessment (molecular, internal, and individualistic versus macro, external, and community-oriented) but also with regard to how risk should be enacted, as well as applied to the populations under study. In closing, I proposed that the culture clash around risk also reflects an epidemiological valuation of expertise dependent on honing reliable methodologies to understand how disease manifests rather than on producing knowledge that can affect social change. Previously, I conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of human epidemiological case studies assessing the relationship between exposure to the pesticide DDT and the risk of breast cancer in the female population as a summer intern at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. My research will be used to update the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry's (ATSDR) Toxicological Profiles, a Congressionally-mandated series of peer-reviewed publications on potentially hazardous chemicals found at National Priority List (NPL) sites. They serve as authoritative statements on the health and toxicological properties of these substances, aimed at informing the general public as well as clinicians, state and local health departments, and other government agencies. In addition, I participated as a research consultant on a policy analysis project for which I conducted a research synthesis of the scientific literature assessing the human health impact of urban heat islands. The project aimed to help the Singapore government and European Institute for Energy Research develop mitigation strategies and policies that would maximize societal benefits.