Phil Brown, Director
The mission of the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute (SSEHRI) is to conduct social science-oriented research, teaching, community engagement, and policy work in the area of environmental health. With 4 core faculty, affiliated faculty at Northeastern and other area universities, 3 postdocs, 13 graduate students, and 5 undergraduates, SSEHRI is a hub for collaborative environmental health learning and interest at NU. The Institute trains graduate students and postdocs for community based participatory research aimed at transforming and improving environmental health. At the same time, it provides faculty with a resource to further their existing efforts in those approaches. Integrating environmental health science, sociology, science and technology studies, and community organizations, SSEHRI aims to develop novel approaches to studying environmental health questions, communication of environmental health data and conceptualization of environmental health socially, politically, and scientifically. SSEHRI has multiple grants from NIEHS, EPA, NIH, NSF, and the JPB Foundation.
Below is a brief description, but you can follow this link to the Social Science Environmental Health Research Group website, where there is a list of projects and publications, as well as biographical sketches of members.
The Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute works on the following areas:
Creating Collaborations between Life Scientists and Social Scientists
- SSEHRI serves as a center for transdisciplinary environmental health research, writing new research proposals, producing publications, and preparing young scholars for careers in social science-environmental health science collaborations. Central to improving environmental health is the development of basic sciences able to capably build connections between sociology, anthropology, exposure science, epidemiology, toxicology, and science & technology studies.
- SSEHRI runs Training Programs to prepare graduate students and postdocs for transdisciplinary environmental health careers. From 2012-2016, we conducted the NSF-funded “Research Training Program – New Directions in Environmental Ethics: Emerging Contaminants, Emerging Technologies, and Beyond.” Starting in 2015, we run the NIEHS-funded T-32 Training Program, ““Transdisciplinary Training at the Intersection of Environmental Health and Social Science,” in coordination with Silent Spring Institute. Also starting in 2015 we include undergraduate trainees from the NIEHS-funded “Research Opportunities for Undergraduates: Training in Environmental Health Sciences” (ROUTES).
- SSEHRI’s extensive research program includes funding from NIEHS, NSF, NHGRI, EPA, and the JPB Environmental Fellows Program. Research areas include biomonitoring and household exposure, chemical policy, brownfield redevelopment, community monitoring at fracking sites, and climate change impacts of health. We are part of the Puerto Rico Testsite to Explore Contamination Threats (PROTECT)/Superfund Research Program and the Center for Research on Early Childhood Exposure and Development in Puerto Rico (CRECE)/Children’s Environmental Health Center.
- Graduate students are in Sociology MA and PhD, MPH, and Population Health PhD programs.
Integrating Comprehensive Doctoral training in Environmental Sociology with the Sociology and Anthropology Department
- The above training activities work together with one of the nation’s largest environmental sociology faculties.
- In addition to director Phil Brown, SSEHRI core faculty are Sara Wylie, Laura Senier, and Sharon Harlan. All are jointly appointed in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and the Department of Health Sciences. In addition to environmental health, there is strength in environmental justice, community-based monitoring, energy and natural resources, environmental social movements, and urban sustainability issues.
Detailed information on Northeastern’s Environmental Sociology program can be found here.
Networking Environmental Health Communities with Faculty and Students for Research and Internships
- We build on prior connections with Silent Spring Institute, Toxics Action Center, Commonweal (Bolinas CA), Communities for a Better Environment (Oakland CA), Alaska Community Action on Toxics, WE ACT for Environmental Justice (NY), and Alternatives for Community and Environment (Boston).
Expanding Biomonitoring and Air/dust Monitoring, Including Innovative Methods of Reporting Data to Participants
- This continues long-standing collaboration with Silent Spring Institute in Newton, MA and University of California-Berkeley, along with more recent colleagues from Harvard School of Public Health and eight collaborating biomonitoring studies.
Developing, Applying, and Studying the Use of Low-cost Tools for Community-based Environmental Monitoring
- Coordinate with Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science, a Cambridge-based organization with collaborators and projects across the US and the world. Public Lab works with environmentally-impacted communities to conduct balloon mapping, remote sensing, spectral imaging, robotic indoor air and dust collection, and other low-cost, participatory projects.
Serving as a Campus-wide Resource for Environmental Health
- Present environmental ethics, cultural competence, and community-based participatory research training sessions through the Northeast Ethics Education Partnership for Research Ethics (NEEP), presently based at Brown University, Northeastern, and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (Syracuse)
- Host speakers and hold conferences to integrate environmental health interests across campus