AMHERST, Mass. – Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE), a San Francisco-based nonprofit dedicated to educating people on the ways in which the environment affects human health and well-being, has named University of Massachusetts Amherst environmental health scientist Laura Vandenberg as one of its “20 Pioneers Under 40 in Environmental Public Health” recognizing her “exceptional levels of accomplishment in work that is rigorous, dynamic and builds critical knowledge.”
Karen Wang, CHE director, says “CHE is excited to shine a light on the hard work of these 20 young pioneers in environmental health. These individuals are shaping the future of environmental health.” She adds that by informing and connecting affected and interested groups, CHE hopes to build a groundswell of demand for prevention-focused behaviors and policies, as well as economic and legal structures that protect public health.
Vandenberg says of the honor, “it is really a delight to be recognized for my work in environmental public health. As a young scientist, I strive to do work that has an impact, not just for other scientists, but for the public at large. I’m truly honored to be selected by leaders in this field.”
Vandenberg, an assistant professor of environmental health sciences at UMass Amherst’s School of Public Health and Health Sciences, is an internationally known expert on the effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals on development and how environmental exposures in early life can contribute to adult diseases including breast cancer, infertility and obesity. She uses molecular, genetic, tissue-based and endocrine tools to investigate such chemicals as bisphenol A and S (BPA and BPS) and others used as plasticizers in flame retardants and cosmetics.
The CHE webinars will feature “cutting-edge work in topics of relevance and concern including climate change and health, chemicals linked to adverse birth outcomes and obesity, and disparities in toxic exposures between different social and racial groups,” CHE says. The California collaborative plans to feature the work of the 20 “next generation environmental health scientists” in a series of 10 webinars beginning on Oct. 4 and running through June 2018.
Each 45-minute session will highlight the complementary work of two pioneers and will include an opportunity for participants to ask questions. Vandenberg is scheduled to appear Oct. 24at 10 a.m. Pacific time, 1 p.m. Eastern.
The 20 pioneering researchers and advocates were nominated by a committee of senior leaders and luminaries in environmental public health including Linda S. Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program, Dr. Dick Jackson, professor at the Fielding School of Public Health at UCLA, and Dr. Jeanne Conry, president of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
CHE says the young scientists’ work “promises to drive environmental health science and advocacy in new directions that will demonstrate the many links between the environment and public health and catalyze policies and actions that will protect the health of children, families, and communities.”
Birnbaum adds, “I believe that scientists have a responsibility to share their research as often as possible, especially when it relates to public health. These young scientists are doing exciting, innovative work that will influence how we address environmental challenges to our health in the future. Their webinars promise to be both interesting and informative.”
The first webinar on Oct. 4 at 10 a.m. PDT / 1 p.m. EDT is “Chemicals in Consumer Products: Exposure Science at the Forefront of Regulation,” featuring Simona Balan, senior environmental scientist at the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, and Todd Whitehead, career development investigator at the Center for Integrative Research on Childhood Leukemia and the Environment (CIRCLE) at the University of California, Berkeley.