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 views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

You too can be a scientist!

By Jeri Weiss

Each fall when I was a kid, my family would throw on hiking boots, pack a lunch and a thermos of hot chocolate and drive about 45 minutes to Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Kempton, Penn. There, we would take a short hike up the mountain, find a rocky outcrop to sit on and join the other birders – waiting, watching and counting the raptors in migration.

It never occurred to me that many years later I would be encouraging others to join the ranks of citizen scientists to help protect our planet. In fact, it never occurred to me that the 11-year-old me was a citizen scientist until this year when I startedCitizenSciencejeri organizing a workshop in Brattleboro, Vermont for citizen scientists.

“Citizen Scientists Making a World of Difference” will be held Saturday morning April 9 in Brattleboro, and is open to anyone who wants to learn more about how to be a citizen scientist.

There are so many ways to participate in research no matter where you live. Whether your passion is watching hawks, catching butterflies, chasing bugs, or even taking photographs, you can contribute to our understanding of the world.

The workshop, from 9:30 am to Noon at the Robert H. Gibson River Garden at 157 Main St. in Brattleboro, will feature more than a dozen organizations, offering people ways to help protect the water, the land, identify critters and plants in the woods and along the river banks.

The options range from helping salamanders cross the street and checking water temperature to photographing insects, birds or plants and entering the information into your smartphone. While you are there you’ll meet like-minded neighbors who are also looking to get involved. And you will learn how even the smallest contributions make a big difference, whether you have a single hour, or a few hours every week.canoejeri0985

Citizen scientists can be 8 or 88 – there are projects for everyone. In addition to information on what you can do in the field, the morning will offer hands-on activities. A water table will simulate what happens when a river is flooded, and what people can do – then and there – to make a difference. You can build a seed bomb to take away with you and use it to help stabilize stream banks that have been eroded by floods like Irene.

This workshop was organized by a committee of staff from Vermont Watershed Management Division; Town of Brattleboro; the Southeast Vermont Watershed Alliance; the Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center; and Windham County Natural Resources Conservation District, as well as EPA New England. They all have something to share. You can find out more about the event here http://tinyurl.com/he44bfc

And if you want to find out more about Hawk Mountain and join their raptors count, or see the bird count when I was there in 1971, click here.

http://www.hawkmountain.org/

Jeri Weiss is a drinking water specialist at EPA and helped organize the Citizens Science Workshop.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Scalable Ideas: Small organizations tackling big problems

Author: Jerome Shabazz

About the Author: Jerome Shabazz is the founder and Executive Director of JASTECH Development Services, Inc., and the Overbrook Environmental Education Center. Under his leadership, the Overbrook Center has trained thousands of students on the Clean Water Act, Toxic Substances Control Act, Urban Stormwater Management and other subjects that reduce exposures to toxic substances at home and school. Jerome has over twenty years of training and development experience and has a Master’s of Science Degree in Environmental Protection & Safety Management from St. Joseph’s University.

All across the nation, small environmental justice organizations are challenged with “scaling-up” –taking ingenuity and initiative to address larger concerns in spite of our small size – in order to address widespread environmental issues in our communities. And that’s what our organization in Philadelphia, Juveniles Active in Science & Technology, or JASTECH Development Services, Inc., has been all about: developing innovative and collaborative solutions for improving the built and natural environments of our city.

In 2002, JASTECH applied for and received an EPA Clean Water Act grant to transform a former brownfields site into the Overbrook Environmental Education Center (OEEC). We built the OEEC to empower students to learn both in the academic context and as participants in community reform. Since its inception, the OEEC used sustainable strategies that “do more with less,” by developing dynamic solutions to overcome obstacles typically associated with organizations who have limited resources and small staffs.

In 2014, during a visit to the OEEC, EPA’s Inspector General Arthur Elkins, Jr., remarked how impressed he was with the Center. During a conversation about how our small, nimble non-profit needed support to help our ideas grow bigger through partnerships, Mr. Elkins suggested that we call our concept “scalable ideas.” Since then, this has described our approach to developing collaborative partnerships that deconstruct large community-wide problems into manageable tasks.

GSI Program students doing a field inspection of a rain garden

OEEC students doing a field inspection of a rain garden

The OEEC puts this in action with what we describe as the “3A” approach: Awareness + Assessment + Application. Awareness being the education of, and relationship to the issues; Assessment is taking inventory of community partners, inputs and resources; and Applications are sustainable solution-based remedies. An example where the OEEC put these “scalable ideas” into action is through educating the public on Philadelphia’s combined sewer overflow problems. The OEEC worked collaboratively to build a 15-week green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) training program for local youth. Chevelle Harrison, Philadelphia Water’s Director of Student Engagement said, “GSI teaches students that their actions have a direct impact on the environment.”

The GSI program is a robust partnership based on Philadelphia Water’s Green City and Clean Waters plan and included the US Forest Service, Penn State Center Engaging Philadelphia, PA Department of Environmental Education, AKRF Engineering and others.

Blog pic 1Through the program, students from Philadelphia high schools conceptualize solutions that reduce strain on the city’s combined sewer system. The students are charged with learning “the power of small” – deconstructing the complicated concepts of pollution from sewer overflows into a series of achievable best management practices that can be realized on a neighborhood level.

Prototype for Curtis' fish farm and vertical plant growing system that utilizes rain water as supplemental “make-up” for water that’s lost through transpiration.

Prototype for Curtis’ fish farm and vertical plant growing system that utilizes rain water as supplemental “make-up” for water that’s lost through transpiration.

Before taking part in the GSI program, high school student Ayanna T. never thought much about stormwater and how it affected the city around her.  “I just thought about the sewer, to be honest,” Ayanna said. “I didn’t know there were other ways you could save [stormwater] and use it.” Now, Ayanna can easily list innovative approaches to green stormwater management, and she ticks off three: “bioswales, tree trenches and pervious pavement.” Devan Curtis, a participant in the GSI program, was challenged with finding ways to redirect and reuse rainwater before it runs off into the stormwater collector system. Curtis, who is currently studying civil engineering at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, has spearheaded the development of an aquaponics system that is now in the works.

All too often, we hear about how bigger is better. However, we are inspired by the people in our community who demonstrate that when you think creatively, small ideas can conquer big problems. Whether it’s our students, a citizen scientist, activists, concerned parents, or any of the other “army-of-ones” who inspire big changes with “scalable ideas,” one remedy at a time…we all benefit from their contributions.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Green Streets: A Road to Clean Water

by Tom Damm

As seen from my cubicle, the project is nearing completion.

As seen from my cubicle, the project is nearing completion.

The busy backhoe operating outside my cubicle window in Center City Philadelphia offers the latest and, for me, the loudest evidence of the work communities are doing to turn their main streets into more absorbent green streets.

In this case, the far sidewalk along the signature Benjamin Franklin Parkway from 16th to 19th streets near City Hall is getting churned up as the Philadelphia Water Department makes room for a greener walkway with a system to capture stormwater in a series of underground storage and infiltration trenches.

When completed, rain from a storm will flow into a “green inlet” that leads to the underground trenches and either infiltrate through the natural subsoil or be stored and then released back slowly into the sewer system.  The trenches will help prevent the combined sewage/stormwater system from getting inundated and spilling its contents into local waters.

Green streets are catching on in the mid-Atlantic region as a way to alleviate flooding, prevent sewer overflows and give an economic and aesthetic lift to downtown blocks.

EPA and its state and non-profit partners are helping to create green streets in big cities like Philadelphia, Baltimore and the District of Columbia, and smaller communities like the port towns along the Anacostia River.

The Borough of Etna, just outside Pittsburgh, last week earned a Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence for its Green Streetscape Initiative.  That project, supported with EPA funds, is transforming the borough’s flood-prone downtown with green techniques to intercept runoff from rooftops and paved surfaces.  The borough manager says she no longer introduces herself at meetings as Mary Ellen from “Wetna.”

Other communities are tapping into the novel Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns (G3) program – an EPA partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Trust, supported by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.  In its first five years, the G3 program has provided more than $6 million and leveraged an equal amount in matching funds for green street design, construction and research.

Check out this new EPA video highlighting a few of the existing green streets projects and the people behind them.

 

About the Author: Tom Damm has been with EPA since 2002 and now serves as communications coordinator for the region’s Water Protection Division.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Sowing Seeds in Winter

Margaret Gregor, EPA On-Scene Coordinator, speaks to reporters in upstate NY.

Margaret Gregor, EPA On-Scene Coordinator, speaks to reporters in upstate NY.

By David Kluesner

My family lives in Missouri. Three sisters, a mom and dad, and seven nieces and nephews. All in the Heartland. Several times a year I fly to St Louis, rent a car and drive the two hours south to my birthplace, Cape Girardeau. Same home that I was raised in. Rural and comforting.

The youngest of my nieces and nephews is Lauren. She’s a sophomore at Southeast Missouri State University. Still contemplating her professional career. A bright, talented young lady, with a great heart and a strong moral compass. One of the most pleasant persons I’ve ever been around. OK, I am a bit biased. But it’s true.

The Friday after President’s Day I stopped by my sister’s place in Sainte Genevieve on the way to Cape Girardeau. My niece happened to be at her mom’s place, doing homework on her laptop. Lauren asked me about my job. How work was going. Rather than give her a huge word salad to try to digest I asked her if she wanted to see one of my colleagues in action, working on an emergency response sampling project in upstate New York. I showed her photos and a video clip of Margaret Gregor, EPA On-Scene Coordinator, being interviewed earlier in the week by a local news crew. In MINUS FOUR DEGREE WEATHER! I was with Margaret, on President’s Day, assisting her with outreach to the press and local community members to inform them of our efforts to address groundwater and drinking water contamination in their community.

My niece lit up with interest and enthusiasm. Maybe it was the fact that my niece and Margaret kind of look like they could be sisters? Or that the interview showed her someone very dedicated and professional in the line of service to community, or both?  My niece was all smiles, asking lots of questions. Intrigued perhaps by a career in environmental protection or government?  As I drove off to Cape Girardeau and thought back, I wondered if I had sowed seeds of interest in the environmental field.  Did a video and some photos show great government service in action a thousand times better than anything I could possibly say?

Did my grandmother know how much she changed me as a child when she held my hand and walked me through forests in Cape Girardeau and taught me about flowers, owls and trees.  Did she know that she was sowing seeds of desire in me to one day help clean up rivers and protect the environment?

One never knows when that seed will sprout into something profound. Sometimes showing the work of people like Margaret Gregor doing her job is more powerful than any word salad. Let’s see what happens with Lauren!

 

About the author: David Kluesner heads up the Community Affairs program for EPA Region 2. David has previously served as a Community Involvement Coordinator on the Hudson River and Passaic River cleanups, and as a Superfund Remedial Project Manager out of EPA’s Atlanta office.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

EPA Partners Leading the Way On Climate Action

Janet McCabe Janet McCabe

By Janet McCabe

Climate change is one of the most critical challenges of our time. We are committed to partnering with industry, communities, and government at all levels to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that drive climate change, and to prepare for the changes that are already underway.

Some important collaborations are our voluntary climate partnership programs. For decades, we have been partnering with the private sector to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote the use of cleaner energy sources, and improve energy efficiency efforts. These voluntary programs have achieved significant environmental benefits: in total, more than 19,000 organizations and millions of Americans have participated in our climate partnerships and, together in 2013 they prevented greenhouse gas emissions equal to the annual electricity use of more than 57 million homes.

Today, we launched a new voluntary program to reduce harmful methane emissions from the oil and gas sector and 41 companies have stepped up as founding partners. Our Natural Gas STAR Methane Challenge Program builds on the success of our Natural Gas STAR Program and encourages partner companies to make company-wide commitments to cut emissions from sources within their operations by implementing a suite of best management practices.

We expect program participation to grow over time and are actively working to expand the options for participation by finalizing an additional Emissions Intensity Commitment option through the ONE Future Coalition. The ONE Future coalition is a group of companies from across the natural gas industry focused on increasing the efficiency of the natural gas supply chain.

To understand the potential of this program, let’s look at the successes of the Natural Gas STAR Program. When Gas STAR began in 1993, it promoted six best management practices that companies could take to reduce methane emissions; that list has increased to over 50 mitigation best practices. In 2015, a total of 103 oil and gas companies from across the natural gas value chain were U.S. Natural Gas STAR Partners. Since the Natural Gas STAR program started, our partners have collectively achieved over 1.2 trillion cubic feet of methane emission reductions, equivalent to the emissions savings associated with the use of over 1.4 million barrels of oil or reducing over 606 million metric tons of C02 equivalent emissions.

Our other voluntary programs are making similar strides. Since 1992, ENERGY STAR has helped consumers save $362 billion on their utility bills while significantly reducing their greenhouse gas emissions at the same time. Since the Green Power Partnership was introduced in 2001, more than 1,200 organizations have committed to using about 33 billion kilowatt-hours of clean, renewable green power each year. Through the Combined Heat and Power Partnership, more than 480 partners have installed nearly 6,800 megawatts of new combined heat and power since 2001. And in 2013 alone, our methane and fluorinated greenhouse gas program partners used our tools and resources to prevent emissions equal to the annual electricity use from more than 12 million homes in 2013.

Our country has been building momentum towards a cleaner energy economy for quite a while, and with the help of our voluntary programs, our partners have been helping to pave the way. To address the global challenge of climate change, we need to use all the tools in our toolbox, and voluntary programs are an important complement to regulatory action. Through the innovation and leadership of our partners, our voluntary climate partnership programs have proven to be an important lever for change.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

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 views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

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 views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

A New Chapter in the Fight against Radon Exposure

Janet McCabe Janet McCabe

By Janet McCabe

Nearly five years ago, we launched an ambitious and far-reaching radon action plan with eight other federal agencies to help save lives and create heathier indoor environments in government-influenced buildings like housing, schools, and childcare facilities. Why? Each year an estimated 21,000 Americans die from radon-induced lung cancer, which is unacceptable. Radon exposure is preventable.

So far our shared efforts have reached an estimated 1.6 million homes, schools and childcare facilities and led to testing for and mitigation of high radon when necessary in nearly 200,000 of those units. And we’ve nearly completed all of our Federal Radon Action Plan (FRAP) commitments like the General Services Administration’s goal to test its 103 childcare facilities for radon and the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s goal to establish radon testing and mitigation requirements for participants in its multifamily housing mortgage insurance programs. You can view the progress we made by visiting our FRAP Scorecard.

While we have made significant progress — in 2013 and 2014 we saw the highest rates of radon mitigation and radon resistant new construction ever recorded in the United States — there’s still more work to do. Elevated radon is still a serious challenge in an estimated 1 out of 15 homes across the United States. The good news is that we have help. Led by the American Lung Association, twelve organizations representing government, nonprofit and industry sectors have crafted and launched an expanded game plan known as the National Radon Action Plan (NRAP).

NRAP builds on, leverages, and accelerates the momentum we created at the federal level. The new and improved strategy aims to incorporate radon testing, radon mitigation and radon-resistant construction into the systems that govern the purchase, financing, and construction and renovation of homes and other buildings. It will have a huge impact on improving public health and in cutting health care costs. Our near-term goal is to reduce the radon risk in a total of five million homes and save 3,200 lives annually by 2020. Our ultimate goal is to eliminate avoidable radon-induced lung cancer in the United States.

As we close the chapter on the Federal Radon Action Plan, I’m excited to see what we will accomplish through our National Radon Action Plan.

I also encourage you to test your home for radon. Affordable do-it-yourself radon test kits are available online, at many home improvement and hardware stores, or you can hire a qualified radon professional. For more information on how to test your home, visit http://www.epa.gov/radon. Test. Fix. Save a Life.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Mapping the Path to Protection

by Megan Keegan and Catherine Magliocchetti

DWMAPS screen shot of Philadelphia area, depicting crude oil, hydrocarbon gas liquids, natural gas, and petroleum product pipelines; overlayed against a backdrop of drinking water sources.

DWMAPS screen shot of Philadelphia area, depicting crude oil, hydrocarbon gas liquids, natural gas, and petroleum product pipelines; overlaid against a backdrop of drinking water sources.

In our work, we use geographic information systems (more commonly known as GIS) to create maps that help us make timely decisions and efficiently target resources for protecting the Region’s waterways.

However, GIS technologies can be time-consuming and cumbersome to learn, and for many environmental organizations GIS mapping has become a language all its own. And as with a language, if you don’t use it, you lose it because it’s difficult to remain fluent without using it on a regular basis.

Now there is an alternative that doesn’t require special software or on-going training. EPA’s new tool, the Drinking Water Mapping Application to Protect Source Waters (DWMAPS) harnesses the mapping power of GIS programs in a user-friendly interface, right in your internet browser!  DWMAPs equips local watershed groups, water utilities, state and federal regulators, and others with a wider variety of water resource datasets. For a better understanding of drinking water resources, users can easily navigate their way to answering all kinds of questions about public water systems, potential sources of contamination, or how to get involved in local drinking water protection efforts.

EPA will use this tool to better protect sources of drinking water by working with states, basin commissions, and collaborative partnerships, such as the River Alert Information Network (RAIN). The Network has high hopes for use of DWMAPS in the future.  RAIN’s program coordinator, Bryce Aaronson, recently told us that “ the ability to shift through the diverse layers detailing watersheds, water sources, and the great litany of possible points of contamination complements the growing early warning spill detection system that RAIN and our water utility partners use to protect the region’s source water.”

Find more information, including a complete user’s guide, on the DWMAPS website. And keep an eye out for instructional videos, webinars, and more from EPA. In the meantime, give DWMAPS a try to learn more about the source of your drinking water and to find water protection groups in your area.

About the authors: Meg Keegan and Cathy Magliocchetti work with diverse drinking water partnerships in the Source Water Protection program. Outside of work, Meg loves to scuba dive tropical locales and Cathy enjoys skiing.

 

 

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.