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Women in Science: Kesha Forrest — Environmental Science and Policy is in my DNA

2011 March 30

Each week we write about the science behind environmental protection. Previous Science Wednesdays.

By Kesha Forrest

That’s me in the photo, early on in my graduate studies at Howard University, standing in a lab of the Howard University Cancer Center. It was the first time I’d ever attempted to “extract” DNA…and it was cool. I was rocking the sample tubes, watching these unwound chromosomes like thread going through water and thinking “wow, that’s the stuff that makes us so different and so alike.” It was one of those “aha” moments.

Just months before, in search of the graduate program that was right for me, I approached the director of the Howard University microbiology department, who had lots of ideas on how to help me. She suggested I work part-time on an ongoing cancer research project, in a lab at the Howard University Cancer Center. One of my first jobs was to help analyze blood samples for an African-American prostate cancer study. Later, I helped analyze West African blood samples for the National Human Genome Center at Howard that focused on the genetics of diabetes, a disease common to African Americans and West African ancestral populations. It was great to get my head out of the books and into the real world of science.

Fast forwarding several years with my masters degree in genetics behind me, I now have my own job in the real world of science. I work in EPA’s Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water, helping to determine if there are contaminants in drinking water that may be harmful to human health. More recently I have been focused on contaminants that could affect our body’s main regulatory system, known as the endocrine system. The endocrine system regulates growth, development and other functions with natural chemicals called hormones. Chemicals in the environment can sometimes “mimic” or act like hormones, which may have negative effects on humans. We work to make sure none of these chemicals are a problem in drinking water.

I love working with fellow scientists that are some of the best in their fields. As I did with my mentors and advisors in graduate school, I take every chance I can to learn from them.

Here at the Agency, we use science to shape policies that protect human health and the environment. One of my career goals is to shape policies that directly consider both genetics and the environment. For now, I’m more than happy to focus on helping to keep America’s drinking water clean and safe.

About the author: Kesha Forrest works in EPA’s Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water and continues to expand her knowledge with classes in public health and environmental policy

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations 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.



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.

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9 Responses leave one →
  1. Enagegament permalink
    April 7, 2011

    I really appreciate the person who has written such a wonderful blog. Your simple use of language and no frills makes the post a great read

  2. Business finance permalink
    June 19, 2011

    great Kesha! you are portraying a womanhood with its power and might. I just appreciate how you work here in EPA as a writer and environmentalist i think..good job. hope more people will be like you!

  3. 360 degree feedback permalink
    July 18, 2011

    Great post on Kesha Forrest and you have done a great job in scientific research but the thing is how you make to this, You understand your self then have made an aim and accomplish your goal through a proper planing and hard work.

  4. computer tips and tricks permalink
    August 29, 2011

    Really Excellent post! you are genious I would like to say thank you for this amazing well needed post. I’ll be visiting
    this website in future as well. I hope I can read such nice article in near future.

  5. Great! permalink
    September 4, 2011


  6. July 16, 2012

    Truly a wonderful share … Pretty interesting research

  7. Angelita Diaz Douglass permalink
    October 25, 2012

    My 9 year old daughter read your blog and wrote a paper on you! You have inspired her to follow in your footsteps! She is writing you a letter. We hope that you receive it. If possible PLEASE send a short note to her at my e-mail address! Thank you for being SUCH an inspiration! GO BISON! :)

  8. World Of Deception permalink
    December 28, 2013

    I must say, Kesha you are doing an excellent job. Science is one field women are greatly deserved to work in, since women are no less intelligent than men.

  9. Dyson DC41 Vacuum Cleaner permalink
    February 22, 2014

    Hey I appreciate your encouragement for women in science. My daughter loves science and this will help her!

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