New Blog Series Amplifies Perspective of Future Public Health Leaders

In partnership with the Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH), Environmental Health News (EHN) today launched an innovative blog series that will feature the ideas and perspectives of the next generation of environmental leaders who come from historically under-represented backgrounds in science and academia.

Agents of Change: Amplifying Neglected Voices in Environmental Health” is the brain child of Ami Zota, ScD, MS, an associate professor of environmental and occupational health at Milken Institute SPH. Zota’s previous work includes studies suggesting fast food, household dust and beauty products expose consumers to potentially harmful chemicals.

With funding from the Marisla Foundation, Zota and Brian Bienkowski, senior editor at EHN, have been working with eight public health graduate students or young scientists from all over the country, teaching them how to craft compelling blogs that will explore the intersection of research, health, sustainability, diversity and environmental justice.

“This series will help the public realize that the face of science is changing and that the quest for innovative ideas and solutions will only benefit from increased diversity,” Zota said in a blog she wrote to introduce the series.

Four of the eight students featured in the series hail from Milken Institute SPH, including Ans Irfan, MD, MPH, a DrPH student and a Health Policy Research Scholar with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Irfan wrote a blog that also appeared on the site today titled, “New Country, same oppression: It’s time to bolster farmworkers’ rights.” Irfan was inspired to write the piece because he grew up in rural Pakistan as part of a multi-generational family of farmers.

“Economic instability and anxiety resulting from water scarcity and low crop yields because of a changing climate was a reality that my family and many in my community lived through,” he said. “Moving to the U.S., I realized the injustices faced by farmworkers in the small farming village where I was raised are not unique. Rather, even in the world’s largest economy, the people who grow the nation’s food are neglected and left without social, health, and labor protections.”

Zota hopes that the blog series will help give a diverse set of new public health scientists the confidence and training to write about solutions for some of the world’s most pressing public health problems.

“Business as usual will not solve climate injustice or the pervasive plastic pollution in our oceans,” she writes in the post launching the series. “We need to empower the next generation of environmental health and justice leaders to speak up, share their bold ideas, and to act quickly and decisively so we can develop effective solutions to protect our ecosystems and humanity.”

Check out the new blog series, “Agents of Change: Amplifying Voices in Environmental Health,” here.

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