Women in Science: From Tide Pools to Children’s Health – One Scientist’s Journey

By Brenda Foos

How did I become a woman in science? In third grade I got an “A” in science class, and I have been hooked ever since! Why environmental science? That lesson came when I was in high school and I participated in a field studies course in Acadia National Park. Growing up in Wisconsin, this was the first time I had ever seen the ocean. We spent time each day observing the tide pool ecology of the shoreline; this was a study of the complex interactions of the rocky geology, the physics of wave and tidal action, and the transient plant and animal communities that live at this high energy intersection. It was all new and incredibly interesting.

The work I do at EPA is very different from this first environmental lesson, but it is the unlimited number of fascinating science topics to learn about (biology, chemistry, toxicology, medicine, etc.) and how they all interrelate that continue to keep me challenged. Integrating the application of so many different types of science to help protect human health and the environment is what makes my work so interesting.

I don’t work in the laboratory, studying one subject in depth; I’m in EPA’s Office of Children’s Health Protection, where we help the Agency apply the best science to protect children from the effects of pollution. Among other things, we interpret studies on the effect of the air pollutant ozone on human disease, estimate children’s exposures to drinking water contaminants that may be regulated in the future, and work on new methods for how EPA assesses risks to children.

I enjoy studying such complex health and environmental science issues and applying the science in ways that ultimately helps to protect children and their families from environmental health hazards.

I hope you share my concern for children’s health and will join me in working to protect it.

About the author: Brenda Foos works in EPA’s Office of Children’s Health Protection where she is the Director for Regulatory Support and Science Policy. She is also dedicated to sharing the environment with her own family and to protecting them from environmental hazards.

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