Women’s History Month

Women’s History Month: Inspiration

By Kacey Fitzpatrick

The work our researchers do here at EPA is so inspiring! So in honor of Women’s History Month, I asked a few of them about who inspires them. Here’s what they said.

Some are inspired by well-known researchers or other women you may have already heard about.

Melanie Klein

Melanie Klein

I am inspired by Melanie Klein who created a therapeutic technique known as “play therapy”.  She continued to advance the theory and technique of psychoanalysis while coping with personal tragedies and depression throughout her life.  And, not having an official academic degree didn’t stop her passion in conducting research.
Cecilia Tan, Research Physical Scientist

 

 

 

Jane Goodall

Jane Goodal

I have been inspired by many strong, vibrant women, all of whom share a passion for their work and for making the world a better place, no matter their field. These women include Maya Angelou, Rosalind Franklin, Jane Goodall, Sandra Day O’Connor, Frances Oldham Kelsey, Toni Morrison, and many, many more.
Toby Schonfeld, Human Subjects Research Review Official

 

Mary Walton.  Mary was a pioneer in reducing air pollution during the Industrial Revolution.  In 1879, Mary patented a device that minimized the smoke that was pouring into the air. It was designed to deflect the emissions into water tanks. Later she would build a model train set to cut down on the clanging of the trolleys.  On February 8, 1891, after putting her invention under the struts that supported the city trains, she received a patent for her work. She gave the city some peace of mind by selling the rights of her patent to the New York City Metropolitan railroad.
—Stephanie Warhol, Program Analyst

 

Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson

 

No one person, however, the collective efforts of tireless conservationists such as Rachel Carson, Dian Fosse, and Jane Goodall were certainly inspirational.
—Janice Dye, Research Biologist

 

 

 

 

Marie Curie

Marie Curie

Marie Curie. Her leadership and achievements at a time when women were not regarded in the scientific profession will always be inspirational.
–Samantha Jones, Toxicologist

 

 

 

 

Mary Anning

Mary Anning

I’m inspired by people who follow what they love doing even if it goes against convention. In the early 19th Century, Mary Anning was a self-taught fossil hunter. She found and excavated ichthyosaur fossils, long-necked plesiosaurs, a pterodactyl, and hundreds of other fossils that helped scientists to draw a picture of the marine world 200 million to 140 million years ago during the Jurassic.
Felicia Barnett, Environmental Engineer

 

 

Susan Solomon

Susan Solomon

 

I am inspired by Susan Solomon whose work played a role in understanding the ozone hole and role of CFCs.
Havala Pye, Research Physical Scientist

 

 

 

 

One of my favorite authors is Barbara Kingsolver, an ecologist and evolutionary biologist by training who got her start writing for science journals. Her work is inspiring to me as she tells stories filled with themes of biodiversity, ecology, and an appreciation for the natural world.
–Megan Fleming, Biologist

Maria Mitchell

Maria Mitchell

Maria Mitchell learned to observe the stars from her father, who taught his children to use a sextant and reflecting telescope. At 17, she had already begun her own school for girls, teaching them science and math. But Mitchell rocketed to the forefront of American astronomy in 1847 when she spotted a blurry streak—a comet—through her telescope. She was honored around the world, earning a medal from the king of Denmark, and became the first woman to be elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Diana Bless, Chemical Engineer

Maria Mitchell, who became world famous for discovering a new comet, because she was truly a pioneer: first female U.S. astronomer, first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts & Science, and then to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, first professor at Vassar College, first internationally recognized female scientist.
Valerie Zartarian, Environmental Engineer

 

 

Nancy Hopkins

Nancy Hopkins

There are loads of female scientists that inspire me. One that jumps to mind is Nancy Hopkins, a Professor Emeritus at MIT. Her career has spanned multiple fields and models. Dr. Hopkins applied her early experience with DNA and RNA viruses to create a strategy that, for the first time, enabled insertional mutagenesis in a vertebrate model. This forward genetic approach identified hundreds of genes that are developmentally required in zebrafish. She was also a strong mentor, launching the careers of an impressive number of trainees who have gone on to study the genetic underpinnings of development, behavior, and predisposition to cancer. I also admire Dr. Hopkins because she took risks. She changed fields many time throughout her career. She also walked out of Lawrence Summers infamous speech where he suggested that innate differences in the sexes might account for the lack of women in high-powered scientific positions. Based on her exceptional research record and history of advocating for women in science, I thought it was fitting to honor her here for Women’s History Month.
–Tamara Tal, Biologist

 

Some are inspired by family.

My mother.  Before she retired, she was a middle school science teacher, and shared her love of all things science with me.
Nicolle Tulve, Research Physical Scientist

Rachelle Duvall with her nieces

Rachelle Duvall with her nieces

 

 

 

I’m currently inspired by my “budding” scientists – my nieces! Their passion and excitement reminds me of why I wanted to be a scientist.
Rachelle Duvall, Research Physical Scientist

 

 

 

My mother – who devoted her life to science education.
Tina Bahadori, Exposure Scientist and National Program Director

 

Some are inspired by professors, teachers, or mentors they’ve had.

In undergrad at the University of Idaho, I had a female professor, Dr. Margrit von Braun, who was the chair of the committee that developed and implemented the Environmental Science Program, and also taught my hazardous waste assessment class. Not only was she a wonderful teacher, she was a great mentor and I ended up working with her for 2 year after I got my BS degree. She and her husband started a small consulting firm in Moscow, Idaho in 1984 to address environmental contamination and resulting human health problems in the Pacific Northwest. At the University of Idaho, she eventually made her way to Dean of the College of Graduate and Interdisciplinary Studies. Since her retirement in 2013, she’s been working with international communities to mitigate environmental pollution. She is truly an inspiration!
—Lindsay Stanek, Physical Scientist

Mrs. Fink, my high school chemistry teacher is one of my heroes, as she got me interested in chemistry and started down the right career path. She got a big acknowledgement in my PhD thesis too!
—Elin Ulrich, Research Chemist

While working in EPA’s Science to Achieve Results grants program for several years, I have met many female scientists who inspire me. However, my post-doctoral adviser Barbara Finlayson-Pitts remains as one of the most impressive people I’ve ever met. She is an incredibly intelligent scientist, who tackles atmospheric science questions with creativity using a wide variety of analytical techniques. She is always ready to share her knowledge or consider a problem, while emanating positive energy and enthusiasm in her love of science.
Sherri Hunt, Physical Scientist

Dr. Linda Brubaker, a paleoecologist at the University of Washington, was my first teacher there and on my PhD committee.  She was the only woman in the College of Forestry for much of the time I was there, so she definitely inspired me.
Jana Compton, Research Ecologist

 

And a lot are inspired by their EPA colleagues.

I’m inspired by the people I work with on a daily basis, both female and male. There are a lot of people within EPA dedicated to doing good science in support of protecting human health and the environment.
–Susan Burden, Physical Scientist

My female colleagues at EPA inspire me every day. My seasoned colleagues helped set environmental science and policy precedents that have and will continued to protect our environment. My mid-level peers have the benefit of learning from these women and continuing their legacy.
—Larke Williams, Environmental Engineer

I am inspired everyday by the female scientists that I work with, here in Cincinnati. They are some of the brightest and hard working women I have ever met, and they make me want to be a better researcher.
—Jill Hoelle, Biological Science Lab Tech

I’ve had a number of wonderful female mentors at EPA – it’s hard to pick just one.  I was lucky to start my career working for Dr. Alice Stark of the New York State Health Department, who worked in Region 5 for a brief period.  Alice was the epidemiologist for the Superfund site at Love Canal and her dedication to public service, science and science communication has influenced me throughout my career.
—Carole Braverman, Regional Science Liaison

One of my peers at EPA inspires me every day – Kelly Witter, an environmental engineer, has devoted her career to educational outreach in our surrounding community.  She is an amazing force for science and inspiring the next generation!
Gayle Hagler, Environmental Engineer

And EPA engineer Robyn Conmy, who is inspired by her family and a love of the ocean, is featured in this video.

About the Author: Kacey Fitzpatrick is a student contractor and writer working with the science communication team in EPA’s Office of Research and Development.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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This Week in EPA Science

By Kacey Fitzpatrick

Research Recap graphic identifierWas your team already knocked out of March Madness? Then you must have plenty of time to catch up on the latest in EPA science. And if they’re still in it, there’s always halftime!

Women’s History Month
March is Women’s History month and this year’s theme is “Working to Form a More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government.” Here at EPA, there are quite a few women scientists and engineers who truly are helping us achieve a more perfect union. We asked some of them to share a few words about what inspired them to pursue a career in science. Read what they said in the blog Women’s History Month: Honoring EPA Women in Science.

Water Reuse and Conservation Research
In honor of World Water Day this week, the White House held a water summit to raise awareness about water issues and potential solutions in the US, and to catalyze ideas and actions to help build a sustainable and secure water future through innovative science and technology. In conjunction with the summit, EPA announced $3.3 million in funding to support water reuse and conservation research. “The research announced today will help us manage and make efficient use of the water supply in the long term,” said Thomas A. Burke, EPA Science Advisor and Deputy Assistant Administrator for our Office of Research and Development. Read more about the grants in this press release.

EPA’s Student Competition Lights the Way
A former team that competed in EPA’s People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) student design competition was just named one of the most innovative companies of 2016 by Fast Company Magazine. The P3 team from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was initially funded in 2006 with a $10,000 grant. The student lead, Patrick Walsh, leveraged that funding, research, and experience to ultimately form the company Greenlight Planet. Patrick Walsh was also named to the 30 under 30 list by Forbes Magazine in 2012. Read more about EPA’s P3 student design competition.

Homeland Security Research
EPA’s Gregory Sayles recently wrote about a homeland security research demonstration. Along with the Department of Homeland Security, EPA researchers demonstrated a toolbox of options to mitigate and decontaminate urban, wide-area radiological contamination stemming from an event such as a dirty bomb detonation or nuclear power plant accident. Read more about the event in the article EPA and DHA Partner in Radiation Decontamination Event.

About the Author: Kacey Fitzpatrick is a student contractor and writer working with the science communication team in EPA’s Office of Research and Development.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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.

Women’s History Month: Honoring EPA Women in Science

By Kacey Fitzpatrick

March is Women’s History month and this year’s theme is “Working to Form a More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government.” Working in EPA’s Office of Research and Development, I’ve gotten to meet quite a few women scientists and engineers who truly are helping us achieve a more perfect union. Some of them are featured here in this blog. To celebrate their dedication to science and protecting public health and the environment, we asked them to share a few words about what inspired them to pursue such work. Here’s what they said:

"USEPA Photo by Eric Vance. Public domain image"

 

I loved math and particularly chemistry when I was younger. After listening to a panel of female engineers and scientists talk about their careers, I instantly found my calling!
Rachelle Duvall, Research Physical Scientist

 

Kelly WitterMy dad. He dropped out of high school to join the Army Air Corps in World War II and then went back and got his GED and then an associate’s degree in refrigeration engineering. He always inspired me to pursue an education in science and engineering and took me along with him when he worked on refrigeration engineering projects at food plants.
—Kelly Witter, Environmental Engineer, Director of STEM Outreach

 

Originally it was the fact that I was good at mathematics and enjoyed it! I started out in an engineering program and after two years, realized my heart wasn’t into it. So I switched to environmental sciences, something that I had a personal connection with through my upbringing in the Pacific Northwest and spending lots of time hiking and outdoors.
—Lindsay Stanek, Physical Scientist

nicolle tulve

 

 

I like to problem solve, make discoveries, and figure out how different pieces need to be incorporated to make something work – whether that’s fixing the vacuum cleaner or making music.
Nicolle Tulve, Research Physical Scientist

 

 

Seeing the work of my parents who were both physicians and public health science advocates. They conducted and taught research to examine the role of the environment as a critical determinant of health.
Tina Bahadori, Exposure Scientist and National Program Director

picture of megan flemming

 

I became interested in science, specifically biology and ecology, because I love to think about and study natural systems. I’m energized by collaborating with other scientists as we work to solve complex and important problems with real-world implications.
—Megan Fleming, Biologist

 

 
In 1995 while interning at EPA, I was a part of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Systems permit program. Being a part of that program opened my eyes to what was happening to the environment and that’s when I knew right then that I made a good decision in becoming a scientist.
—Ramona Sherman, Physical Scientist

valerie zartarian at her desk

 

In high school, I was inspired by my teachers and drawn to practical applications of math and science, so I decided to major in engineering.
Valerie Zartarian, Environmental Engineer

 

 

 

I like using data to solve problems and answer questions. The scientific method provides a way to objectively answer questions about how or why something happens.
—Susan Burden, Physical Scientist

EPA's Cecelia Tan

 

I wanted to become a scientist because I enjoy solving problems using logical reasonings and mathematical skills (not surprising with jigsaw puzzles being my favorite game).
Cecilia Tan, Research Physical Scientist

 

 

From the time I was a kid I was always interested in health and originally thought about going into medicine. As time went on I realized that the broader field of science covered the wide range of my interests. Ultimately I became a toxicologist and started pretty early in my career at EPA working in the area of public health. This has allowed me to work on a wide range of topics, including the medical aspects that are still interesting to me.
—Samantha Jones, Toxicologist

 Diana Bless doing research

In school I was always interested in my science classes.  I had that yearning to know more about science but I didn’t have that ‘a-ha moment’ until I went to college and realized I also liked math and could be a chemical engineer.
Diana Bless, Chemical Engineer

 

 

 

Elin Ulrich in the labI really enjoyed my high school chemistry class. I understood what was being taught, loved the laboratory aspects and experiments we performed, and was fascinated by the scientific process and discovery. As I took more chemistry classes, the attraction never faded. I eventually honed in on analytical and environmental chemistry for its perfect combination: its instruments can answer all sorts of questions, the math appealed to me, and I knew that research for the environment could make a difference.
—Elin Ulrich, Research Chemist

 

 

Toby with a moose

I became interested in my field (bioethics) because of a desire to combine my interest in health sciences with an interest in the humanities. It seemed to me that promoting health was a matter of merging these two arenas, not studying one separately. And I think I was right!
Toby Schonfeld, Human Subjects Research Review Official

 

EPA's Larke Williams

I decided to go into chemical engineering because I enjoyed chemistry and math in high school and loved solving a variety of challenging problems. After graduating from college, my interest in environmental engineering grew from understanding the intersection of industry and environment. I was concerned about what I saw happening to the air and ocean in Los Angeles while working for an environmental engineering consulting firm.
—Larke Williams, Environmental Engineer

 

I always liked science but my tenth grade biology teacher Miss Collins was one of my major inspirations.  She was a great role model – I think all my high school science teachers before and after her were men–and her enthusiasm for biology made the class fun.
—Carole Braverman, Regional Science Liaison

Jill in the lab

 

 

I wanted to become a scientist because I wanted to do research that would help make people’s lives better.
—Jill Hoelle, Biological Science Lab Tech

 

 

 

 

jana compton (2)

As a kid I loved playing outside, hiking, camping, swimming in lakes and catching crawdads in the creek in our back yard.  In college I loved chemistry and botany, so I was thrilled to learn that environmental chemistry combined these two areas and allowed me to use my interests and passion to inform environmental policy and management.
Jana Compton, Research Ecologist

 

 

EPA's Stephanie Warhol

I decided to go into the engineering field because I wanted to make a change for the positive in my environment.  Smart growth and Smart design concepts are generally urban concepts that I wanted to bring into the rural mid-west.  I continue to have an interest in designing facilities and cities in a way in which people can work, play, and recreate all in the same locale without the high cost of “toxic transportation.”  The more that we can reduce the need for gasoline and other toxics that continue to load our environment, the more sustainable we will make this world for our children.
—Stephanie Warhol, Program Analyst

 

I developed a passion for civil engineering in college—in one college major I could learn all the important engineering elements behind what makes a modern city work!  I loved it all —from learning how bridges are designed to how water systems work.
Gayle Hagler, Environmental Engineer


SherriHunt

I was fortunate to have a number of wonderful teachers and mentors throughout my education. With their encouragement, I realized that I enjoyed the challenge of asking questions and finding solutions. With the fundamentals of physics and chemistry so many questions can be addressed!
Sherri Hunt, Physical Scientist

 

 

EPA's Felicia Barnett doing research

 

I have always had an interest in and love of animal and plant life, as well as for building things.  Together with those passions, my enjoyment of biology, chemistry, physics, and math quickly became the foundation of my school studies.
Felicia Barnett, Environmental Engineer

 

 

 

As a veterinarian, I am passionate about the health and well-being of animals including endangered species. Thus, environmental or “habitat” protection, the core of the EPA’s mission, is right in line with my interests.
—Janice Dye, Research Biologist

Havala Pye at her desk

 

Being an engineer allows me to combine my interests in science and math and work on problems whose solutions can improve the world.
Havala Pye, Research Physical Scientist

 

 

 

 About the Author: Kacey Fitzpatrick is a student contractor and writer working with the science communication team in EPA’s Office of Research and Development. She became interested in science communication because she wanted to understand what her mom (a toxicologist) was talking about.

 

 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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“To Thine Own Self Be True” – Building a Life of Purpose

By Mary Peterson

Mary Peterson

Mary Peterson

That is the challenge indeed, as Shakespeare writes in Hamlet. Down through the ages, men and women alike have wrestled with this challenge and others that deal with the purpose and meaning of life. At some point, each of us must decide who and what we will become, and then set ourselves on a path to becoming a person of purpose.

For me, the journey began in 8th grade when my father said to me, “You should be a chemical engineer.” At the time, I had no idea what a chemical engineer was, but if my father thought I should be one, it must be a good idea. Looking back, I hope his advice was based on my proficiency in math and science and not on starting salary statistics. Whatever his motivation, I set myself on the path to engineering school.

The reality of being one of few women studying chemical engineering did not strike me until I got to college in 1983. In my engineering classes, women were outnumbered by a ratio of 6 to 1. This did not particularly bother or deter me, and my male classmates treated me with respect. The biggest hurdle I faced was male professors who simply did not believe that girls could be or should be engineers. During my first semester, it was apparent that my work was far more scrutinized and harshly graded than the work of my male colleagues, and I was rarely called upon in class to share my solutions.

This challenge only served to strengthen my resolve to succeed. While I certainly recognized the unfairness of their scrutiny, I chose to use it to my advantage. Through hard work and determination, I raised the bar of performance and ultimately won the respect of even my harshest critics. I truly believe that I benefited from this experience and probably got a much better education than most of my male colleagues.

So here is the message: In every hardship, there is opportunity for growth. Sometimes it is buried beneath deep layers of ideology and prejudice, but it’s always worth the dig. Each of us will face challenges and fight battles along our journey to become people of purpose. You won’t win every battle along the way, but with perseverance and steadfast resolve to do good, you will win the war.

I began this blog with the words of Shakespeare; I will end it with my own:

The only journey wasted is the journey not begun.

The only races lost are the races never run.

Through the journeys and the races, we become.

 

Mary Peterson is the acting deputy director of EPA Region 7’s Superfund Division. She has also served as a Superfund project manager and public affairs deputy director.

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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An Inspiring Afternoon with Women Scientists and Engineers from Carnegie Mellon University

 

Recently, I had the opportunity to spend an afternoon at Carnegie Mellon University with very impressive women faculty members and doctoral candidates in the engineering, environment and public policy fields.

These women of diverse backgrounds and experiences enlightened me about their work on a number of environmental challenges facing us today. They are doing important research on the life-cycle of energy systems and their impact on climate change and mitigation. Through these efforts, faculty and students are seeking to understand the social, economic and environmental implications of energy consumption tools that can be used to support sustainable energy.

I was pleased to learn that one Ph.D. candidate is studying water quality and marine life in the Monongahela River. We’re doing very similar work in our Wheeling, West Virginia office and I hope we can build on each other’s progress. There are a number of interesting and practical research projects on air quality modeling, agriculture, and natural gas – I am interested in learning about the final outcomes of these projects and how it may increase our understanding in those areas.

My visit to Carnegie Mellon is timely since we celebrate Women’s History Month in March. Women have a long history in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) that many may not realize. Women play an important role by fostering a robust and diverse scientific community that draws from a broad array of unique experiences and skills. Developing diverse world-class talent in STEM, is absolutely critical in meeting the growing environmental challenges facing our modern world.

I am inspired by the passion and creativity of the talented group of engineers and scientists at Carnegie Mellon. They are striving to make meaningful contributions to the environment for generations to come. We need to ensure more women have the opportunity to pursue degrees in the various fields of science. These women scientists and engineers are helping to move this forward.

Shawn M. Garvin is EPA’s Regional Administrator for Region 3, overseeing the agency’s operations in Delaware, D.C., Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. Shawn’s career in intergovernmental affairs spans more than 20 years at the federal and local levels.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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Women and Climate Change Summit: Part Two

By Aria Isberto

Panel Discussion

Panel Discussion

As we mentioned in the previous post, EPA’s Women and Climate Change Summit had three goals: to educate, energize, and elevate the voices of women on the important issue of climate change.

Biogeochemist Dr. Kathleen Weathers dove into the first goal with an inspiring talk entitled “What’s New in Climate Change?” She emphasized that human influence on climate change is indisputable. “We know this through experiments, observations, consensus reports and long term records,” she explained, providing hard-hitting and impossible to ignore data. In the face of such a concerning future, Dr. Weathers advised: “Emit less, prepare well for the effects, and understand what is going on. Communicate. Act.”

But we did not forget the victories made thus far. A six-person panel focused on local, successful endeavors was hopeful proof that our actions do make a difference:

  • Alliance for Clean Energy’s Executive Director Anne Reynolds gave the good news about New York’s progress, being one of the states at the forefront of renewable energy. We now have a 25 % Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). Hydropower provided 25% of the state’s energy in 2010, with an aim to increase that by 5% this year.
  • Jenny Briot of Iberdrola Renewables revealed that the Maple Ridge Wind Farm in upstate New York produces enough energy to power up to 160,000 homes and has increased the amount of wind power in the state by 600 percent. The land used remains available for farming, while the project benefits communities by powering school computers and providing jobs.
  • Green City Force is an AmeriCorps program, represented by Lisbeth Shepard, who explained the need to engage our city’s unemployed youth. The program “gives them a means to address climate action goals” while providing them with a stipend and metro card.
  • Tria Case, Director of Sustainable CUNY, gave an update on the NYC Solar Map project. While still in the midst of working towards a more streamlined solar power installation process, the NYC Solar Map is an informational source and useful tool for New Yorkers who want to contribute to the solar movement. Along with practical guides, the website allows visitors to calculate the solar potential of their building with the input of an address.
  • The Yonkers Streetlight Replacement Project will reduce the city’s carbon footprint by 10%, as detailed by Yonkers Director of Sustainability Brad Tito. The project works by replacing Yonker’s cobra-head streetlights with LED lights, with 11,300 replaced last year. It will save nearly $2 million in energy costs in the span of a decade.
  • The City of Kingston is making large strides as well. As a DEC Climate Smart Community, Kingston has been reducing emissions while adapting to a changing climate. Panelist Julie Noble from Kingston’s Parks and Recreation presented to the summit the city’s many forward thinking actions, one of them putting to use CANVIS, a type of resiliency planning tool that assesses site-specific potential damage caused by sea level rise. The city monitors sea levels with a mapper and develops adaptation strategies accordingly.

By lunchtime, the summit was buzzing with excitement. EPA’s Regional Administrator, Judith Enck, took the stage to thank all of the participants for being a part of the summit. She spoke about some of the women who have inspired her in her work, mentioning Rachel Carson, Lois Gibbs and Klara Sauer herself, who was sitting in front of the room. Enck also expressed how proud she was that four of the last six EPA Administrators have been women. Citing the fact that 2014 was the hottest year on record, she highlighted some of EPA’s work and urged all to support and follow the sustainable progress being made in the region and all over the world.

A conclusive discussion entitled “Where Do We Go From Here?” was moderated by Catherine McCabe, Deputy Regional Administrator of EPA Region 2, for the participants at the summit to discuss and come up with real solutions. The discussion was intent in its purpose to cultivate fresh ideas and for everyone to leave with a newly invigorated determination that carries long after the event has wrapped up. With thoughts such as: “How do we empower people to realize each can make a difference?” and “How can we make scientific data even more accessible to all?” It would be no surprise to anyone if new projects and collaborations are traced back this day.

Watch a video of the summit by the Poughkeepsie Journal here.

About the Author:
Aria Isberto is an intern at the EPA Region 2 Public Affairs Division. Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, she currently resides in Manhattan and is an undergraduate student at Baruch College. Her passions include music, writing and learning about protecting the environment.

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.

Women and Climate Change Summit: Part One

By Aria Isberto

David Roosevelt (grandson of Eleanor and Franklin D. Roosevelt), Uri Perrin (Executive Director of The Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Partnership), Judith Enck (EPA’s Regional Administrator) and Cara Lee (The Nature Conservancy) in a lighter moment during the Women and Climate Change Summit.

David Roosevelt (grandson of Eleanor and Franklin D. Roosevelt), Uri Perrin (Executive Director of The Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Partnership), Judith Enck (EPA’s Regional Administrator) and Cara Lee (The Nature Conservancy) in a lighter moment during the Women and Climate Change Summit.

Earlier this month, an event hosted by EPA and The Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Partnership gathered a phenomenal group of people to the historic site in Hyde Park, New York, once home to the longest-serving First Lady of the United States.

On the morning of March 6th, two days before International Women’s Day, the 2015 Women & Climate Change Summit was held. Representatives from environmental organizations were present, including the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, The Nature Conservancy, Environmental Defense Fund, and Sierra Club, to name a few. Among the crowd were also staff of Assembly and Senate members, students from various colleges in the region, and people from diverse walks of life sharing a commitment to a sustainable future.

Eleanor Roosevelt’s grandson David was an unexpected initial speaker that morning. As he took the stage and looked out into the sunlit room towards the sea of faces in the Henry A. Wallace Visitor and Education Center, he expressed his sincere hope: for all to draw inspiration from his grandmother’s life and her work and to continue carrying her message.

Of course, the awe-inspiring Eleanor Roosevelt was a focal point in the day’s proceedings as the summit converged on the beautiful snow-covered property. Val-Kill had been her home for years after Franklin Roosevelt’s death and was the place where she worked on some of her most important achievements. “Val-Kill is where I used to find myself and grow,” Eleanor once said. “At Val-Kill I emerged as an individual.”

Kevin Oldenburg, a Park Ranger at the Roosevelt-Vanderbilt National Historic Sites introduced his presentation, saying, “not often is the mention of Eleanor’s passion for the environment. That is usually attributed to Franklin.” He went on to highlight Eleanor’s concern for land conservation, such as her worry about the harmful effects of strip mining, insisting on visiting affected sites despite being discouraged to do so. She also spoke strongly for the need to find alternatives for oil. So while she is known for her prevailing sense of social justice, it was Eleanor’s belief that “conservation of our land and conservation of the people go hand-in-hand.”

The Women & Climate Change summit had three goals in mind: Educate one another on policies for addressing climate change (including EPA’s regulatory actions), Energize our daily actions around climate work, and Elevate the voices of women on the historic issue. For many of the 130 attendees of the summit, there was no better way to celebrate March as Women’s History Month than by dedicating the day to their passion in addressing climate change, while at the same time honoring the environmental contributions of Eleanor Roosevelt and many other inspirational women over the years.

Read more details about this groundbreaking summit in Part Two.

About the Author:

Aria Isberto is an intern at the EPA Region 2 Public Affairs Division. Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, she currently resides in Manhattan and is an undergraduate student at Baruch College. Her passions include music, writing and learning about protecting the environment.

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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Moms Matter in our Fight Against Climate Change

Our children mean the world to us. So as moms, when we say we must meet our moral obligation to leave the next generation a world that is safe and healthy, we mean it. For us moms, it’s personal. It’s our children and grandchildren who are currently suffering from the effects of pollution. It’s our children and grandchildren who make up the future generations each one of us is obligated to protect. This March marks Women’s History Month; a time to recognize the unwavering strength of the mothers coming together to organize, speak out, and stand up for the health of their children.

MomsblogEPA plays a critical role in protecting our children from pollution by keeping our air and water clean and safe, and by taking historic steps to fight climate change. And it turns out, efforts to combat climate change double as public health protection, too. The carbon pollution that fuels climate change comes packaged with other dangerous pollutants that cause smog and soot. With 1-in-10 children in the U.S. today already dealing with asthma—and even higher rates in communities of color—we must do all that we can to reduce harmful exposure.

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Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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Who’s Your Environmental Justice Shero?

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By Dr. Marva King

In 1994, I walked through the doors of the Environmental Protection Agency with my backpack full of graduate studies theory and my mind bursting with energy and eagerness to find meaningful work.

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Dr. Clarice Gaylord

Dr. Clarice Gaylord, the first Director of EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice, saw something in me to cultivate and she gave me an opportunity to work in her newly formed office. Through her mentorship I matured, networked, experienced, succeeded and found passion and purpose in my work. Dr. Clarice Gaylord changed the direction of my life and was my first environmental justice “shero.”

This past February marked the 20th anniversary of Executive Order 12898 on environmental justice, as well as 20 years that I have worked at EPA. These anniversaries have made me pause and reflect on the leaders that have blazed trails to advance the cause of environmental justice. As March is also Women’s History Month, I think it is especially appropriate to honor the sheroes of the environmental justice movement, of whom there are so many within the EJ movement.

Throughout the years so many ladies — from all walks of life — advised, coached, mentored, and guided me in this field.  Some of them did not even know they were doing so.  Since there are too many to name in this blog and I would be afraid to leave out any, I will share what a few of these sheroes have meant to me in the various stages of my 20 year growth.

Early on in my career, I heard the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) public comment testimony of Ms. Zulene Mayfield, a community leader from Chester, PA.  Her moving testimony of the deplorable environmental and public health problems experienced in her community forced me to run from the public comment room straight into the ladies room to cry my soul out.  Wherever she is today, I will always be grateful to her for igniting the spark in my heart and cementing my determination to do all I can in this field to help communities like hers.

As I entered the 2000s, a community leader from Savannah, Georgia, Dr. Mildred McClain, impacted my life as I saw her struggle tirelessly to build trust and partnerships between residents with local government, business and industry. Initially, these groups refused to be in the same room with Dr. McClain, but her hard work and persistence led to incredible changes in Savannah. Dr. McClain always advised me to never forget that one of the reasons I was working at the EPA was to protect the people who were at times powerless to protect themselves.

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Vernice Miller Travis (left) and Peggy Shepard(right)

As I reach the stage in my career where I’m hoping to help pass over this torch of justice for the next generation, I am fortunate to continue receiving the professional collegial advice of well-known EJ leaders like Peggy Shepard and Vernice Miller-Travis, and business leaders like Sue Briggum.  These women inspired me to never give up and to always remember the obligation we all have to continue pushing EJ issues into the next generation.

To the next generation of women leaders, we are looking to you to continue carrying on this mission of justice for all.  As you arm your own backpacks with legal, technical, and policy tools and then fill your minds and hearts with passion and commitment, hold your torch of justice high!  One day when retired and I’m at home sitting on my deck surrounded by my roses, I expect to turn on my computer and read about how you are all continuing to push the envelope on these concerns!

And now I want to know: who is your shero? Sheroes in the struggle for environmental justice are around us everywhere. I hope you will join me in identifying and recognizing them for their work to improve the quality of life on the planet for all its citizens. Please post in the comments section below because I want to hear about the amazing sheroes who inspired you in your journey. Peace.

About the author: Marva King, is currently on a detail in EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice. previously she served as Program Co-Chair for the Community Action for a Renewed Environment (CARE) Program. She also serves as a community expert on several EPA teams across the Agency. Previously, she worked for over 10 years as a Senior Program Analyst in EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice managing the EJ Collaborative Problem-Solving Cooperative Agreement Program and the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council. She holds a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Delaware and a Ph.D. in Public Policy at George Mason University.

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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Madame Curie and Emporia State

By Diane Harris

“What do you want to be when you grow up? “  It was an easy question for me when I was six years old – I was sure I would be a princess or a famous movie star.  But alas, when I learned all the princess positions were filled and you have to have talent for acting to be a movie star, it looked like I was out of options. But then in the sixth grade I read a biography on Madame Curie and decided then and there I was going to be just like her and make the next great scientific discovery.  My career choice was further solidified when my high school chemistry teacher made the statement to me one day “You are going to study chemistry when you get to college…right” as if it was a given – no ifs, ands, or buts about it. And so here I am pursuing that career in science.

Unfortunately, not all girls get a Madame Curie moment or any encouragement to consider a career in science or math. Somehow and somewhere along the way there is a mostly unspoken but clearly communicated idea that girls just aren’t as good in math and science as boys. And because of this “unspoken rule,” many girls do not ever consider answering the question “What do you want to be when you grow up? “  with the response of “a scientist” or “ a mathematician”. Fortunately, there are people and programs out there trying to change all that with EPA’s special emphasis program, Women in Science and Engineering (WISE), being one of them.  You can learn more about EPA Women in Science at http://www.epa.gov/womeninscience/

In the spirit of WISE, last Saturday a colleague and I participated in an Expand Your Horizons event hosted by Emporia State University (ESU). This event is geared towards girls in grades 6th -8th with the goal of encouraging them to consider a career in math and science. This event includes national speakers, career workshops, and hands-on activities centered around science or math-related topics with all presentations being led by women professionals working in science and math-related careers. You can learn more about ESU’s Expanding Your Horizons event at http://www.emporia.edu/mathcsecon/outreach/eyh/

Our specific career workshop, Environmental Scientists – Working for a Healthier World, focused on environmental scientists including what they do here at EPA. Our hands-on activity, Let’s Talk Trash, taught the girls the connection between garbage and global warming thru the creation of an edible landfill using cookies, candy, licorice, and the ever popular fruit roll-ups.  We told the girls this was the one time it was okay to play with your food!

It was a lot of fun to meet the girls and watch them become so interested in what we had to say and to see them not yet believing they cannot be as good in science or math as boys. And when a young girl comes up to you at lunch to tell you that your presentation was inspiring and they want to be an environmental scientist, it makes you feel great knowing there is one more girl out there who now has an easy and perhaps new option for the question “What do you want to be when you grow up? “  And it’s a good thing too; I hear those princess positions are as hard to come by today as they were when I was growing up.

Diane Harris is a first generation scientist and has worked at EPA for 18 years.   She is currently the Regional QA Manager and served as the WISE Chair for several years in Region 7.

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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