On the 18th and 19th of this month, graduate student Krista Haapanen had the opportunity to represent UC Davis at “Engaging Diverse Partners: Strategies to Address Environmental Public Health,” a joint NIEHS meeting of the Partnerships for Environmental Public Health (PEPH) network and Disaster Research Response (DR2) program. The meeting, which took place on the NIEHS campus in Durham, North Carolina, brought together scholars and advocates from across the country to focus on successful approaches for engaging with diverse partners.
In a series of presentations and small group discussions, participants shared their unique experiences, opportunities, and challenges working with partners from Community-based and Environmental Justice Organizations, Educators, Healthcare Professionals, Tribal Communities, Decision Makers, and Workers. Liam O’Fallon, Director of the PEPH, placed particular emphasis on not only sharing successes and lessons learned from past work, but also identifying next steps for advancing the NIEHS’ efforts to address environmental public health concerns.
Haapanen received NIEHS funding to attend the meeting as a representative of both the CCEH COTC and the Environmental Health Sciences Center (EHSC) Community Engagement Core (CEC) at UC Davis. “It was incredibly inspiring,” reflected Haapanen upon her return from the meeting. “Everyone there was so committed to and passionate about remedying the environmental injustices. I got to exchange ideas with physicians, University faculty, tribal leadership, representatives from other COTCs and CECs… all of us sitting down and saying ‘okay, how do we evaluate our impact and keep moving forward?’ I could not be more grateful that I had the opportunity to go.”
Haapanen will be participating in a working group established at the meeting that is focusing on the importance of science translation and STEM education for advancing environmental public health. “I think that improving health literacy – and environmental health literacy more specifically – is a critical element of advancing environmental public health. That means that science can’t just stay in the university – lay people need to be taught more about environmental health science, and our scientists need to learn to translate their work to a range of audiences.”