Skip to content

Science Wednesday: What do you for a living? SCIENCE!

2009 May 27

Go to EPA's Science Month pageAbout the author: Jeffery Robichaud is a second generation scientist with EPA who started in 1998. He serves as Chief of the Environmental Assessment and Monitoring Branch in Kansas City.

I struggle with chit-chat at social gatherings when the inevitable, “What do you do?” question is asked. It is easy to say I work for the EPA. But if the party-goer probes further, my answer is usually, “Well I work with a group of scientists and engineers who do lots and lots of different complicated sciency things in the laboratory and in the field to protect public health and the environment.” Usually at this point they ignore me and turn to my wife, the professional photographer, in an effort to avoid being blinded with science.

Joking aside, science is at the very core of everything we do as an Agency. In a Regional office, most of the Science we perform is Applied Science…taking all of the data and conclusions of basic science research, national studies, and Agency policies and translating them into decisions that affect the public and the environment in a very real way, often in their own backyards. Here in Kansas City, I’m lucky to have a team of professionals that has received numerous top national awards and recognition in an ill-understood but extremely important scientific field, risk assessment. In fact, when I searched Greenversations it wasn’t even mentioned.

Risk Assessment is a scientific process used to characterize the nature and magnitude of health risks to humans, fish and wildlife from exposures to chemical contaminants and other stressors. It brings together many scientific disciplines including chemistry, biology, toxicology, geology, statistics and ecology, all with the goal of providing the scientific support behind the Agency’s decisions. Risk Assessment is the science behind the establishment of fish advisories, cleanup levels at hazardous waste sites, evaluating health risks associated with toxic air pollutants, and registration of pesticides.

Beyond the obvious ability to affect decisions regarding human health and the environment, those of us involved with risk assessment enjoy the discipline since it is constantly evolving. Updated information on the toxicity of chemicals continually emerges, new exposure pathways come to the forefront such as vapor intrusion and exciting activities are always around the corner such as the field as computational toxicology. It is both challenging and rewarding to ensure that the best science is brought to bear as we meet tough challenges in the coming years. We’ll be hard at work performing the science behind the scenes; however don’t be afraid to talk to one of us at a cocktail party. Scientists are people too.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

One Response leave one →
  1. marie permalink
    May 29, 2009


    We have just added your latest post “Science Wednesday: What do you for a living? SCIENCE!” to our Directory of Science . You can check the inclusion of the post here . We are delighted to invite you to submit all your future posts to the directory and get a huge base of visitors to your website.

    Warm Regards Team

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS