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Careers in Environmental Health

[music]>>Hi, my name is Kira Lynch.>>Laura Beaver.
>>Renee Brooks.>>My name is Diana Rohlman.>>Perry Hystad.>>Hi, my name is Mark Johnson.>>Yasmeen Nkrumah-Elie.>>Anna Harding.>>Paul Mayer.>>Hi, my name is Lane Tidwell.>>My name’s Molly Kile and I’m
an environmental epidemiologist.>>Isotope ecology, but I’m
also a plant physiologist and an isotope hydrologist.>>Professor of public health.>>I’m a research ecologist.>>Program coordinator for
the Superfund Research Program, as well as the Environmental
Health Sciences Center.>>I am a research
soil scientist.>>I study chemicals
in our environment.>>I am a toxicologist. [music]>>My day to day life is fun. Part of my job involves going to
the field which includes places like Bangladesh to measure
chemical exposures from drinking water out there. Part of my job is as a college
instructor and lecturer. So I teach students about
environmental epidemiology. I get to work in the lab and
then I also do a lot of writing.>>My job entails
three main tasks. Going out into the environment
and collecting samples, which is a lot of fun because
I get to go to really neat places like the Gulf of Mexico,
or Ohio, or Africa, or Peru, and bring back
samples to the laboratory. The next portion of my job
is taking those samples and analyzing them on, on really expensive,
really complex instruments. And doing some fun chemistry. And then after that, I get to
sit down at my computer, and take all the data that I get
from the instrument, and enter it into models that
help us understand how these compounds move throughout
the environment and how we interact with
them as humans.>>My day to day everyday
is completely different. So, yesterday I taught
90 third graders. Two weeks ago I was in
Ohio with a research team.>>I supervise a group
of 18 scientists. All of whom do research
of various kinds, and I serve as their
supervisor and mentor, and
help them plan their research.>>What I really do is
I work with data, and I tell stories that I find
within this information. Pulling together things, trying to understand what
the data is telling us. [music]>>I graduated from high school
and was gonna go to college. I had no idea what I wanted to
do, and I thought I’d follow in my father’s career path,
which was an engineer. It was interesting, but I
couldn’t see making it a career. Although I grew up in
Southern California, my family were farmers in
the Midwest, and so I, I was really interested in agriculture
and started leaning myself or preparing myself for
that kind of a career. So I studied soils, I studied
chemistry which I was very passionate and about and
really enjoyed. One thing led to another,
I got a degree in agronomy, which is the study of crops and
soils, and then I went on to get a master’s degree in soil
chemistry and plant nutrition. And then, from there, I went and
got a PhD in soil chemistry.>>I took a lot of science and
math classes and enjoyed them a lot
in high school. And then,
I went off to college and got a bachelor’s in biology here
at Oregon State University. And then a master’s in
environmental science. And then I took a little break,
and moved to Washington, DC and got my PhD in genetics. Along the way I did a lot of
research in labs I started washing dishes in a lab because
I needed to pay for room and board, and then I discovered
I loved doing science.>>I became an environmental
epidemiologist after first working as a marine scientist. I was very interested in
learning about chemicals in our environment, and so I did that in the coastal
zone and in the oceans for several years, and then what
I realized was, I was really interested in how those chemical
exposures affected human health, and that’s the basis of
environmental epidemiology.>>I went to graduate school for
marine biology, actually, for several years at
the College of Charleston. After I, I did that research I
lived in Costa Rica for a few months working with sea turtles
in Tortuguero, Costa Rica. And then after that, I started
this PhD here at Oregon State in the Toxicology Department. Looking at a different
range of contamination or a lot of different
chemical classes. Basically, I started in biology,
and now I’m doing a lot
of chemistry. So, I’m kind of a mixed bag. [laugh]
I know a little bit of everything, but
an expert in nothing.>>I have always known that I
wanted to be a scientist ever since I was five years old. And I’ve always followed
that route towards becoming a scientist,
whatever that meant at the time. I started work as a,
as a post doc with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. And I’ve worked my way up
through the agency and through the ranks [music]>>I think my work makes a
difference because environmental exposures are an important
contributor to human health. But we need to have good
solid evidence before we can make good decisions about
how we regulate those chemicals.>>The Superfund Program was
specifically designed to deal with legacy waste sites. Many of the old chemical
manufacturing and mining facilities from years ago when
we didn’t realize that the waste handling procedures that we were
using were really resulting in significant impacts, negative
impacts to the environment.>>I think it’s really
important to try and asses what the condition
of the nation’s waters are. We can’t make water better until
we know what the condition is, and this is a way,
on a national scale, to try and figure out, is water quality
getting better over time or worse over time, and what is it?>>The research we did directly
affected congressional legislation called the
Amendments to the Clean Air Act that brought down sulfur
emissions and is actually resulted in a lot of lakes and
streams in the Northeastern U.S. becoming cleaner and fish being
able to live there again. [music]>>I have always really enjoyed
biological sciences and the chemistry sciences.>>I did a lot of theater,
I did a lot of art. I also was interested in math.>>My favorite class has
definitely got to be AP Biology.>>Probably my favorite
class was literature. [laugh] Oddly enough.>>I had a very lively,
good chemistry teacher.>>Biology, always biology.>>My favorite class growing up, I had an awesome
biology teacher.>>You can just have so many
great experiences in chemistry.>>My favorite class in school, that’s interesting,
was actually geography.>>I really believe that
creativity is in art and in science, is in the same
part of your brain. So my favorite class as I
was a fine art major and a dual chemistry major
at the same time.>>My favorite class
growing up was AP Biology. [music]>>My favorite part of my job
is working with people so I think sometimes people think
scientists work in a lab and don’t interact with
other people, and that’s just really not true. Environmental epidemiology is
part of public health, and public health means people.>>I think the favorite
part of my job is when I get these results that I
worked so hard to produce. And I have that moment,
that aha moment, where I know if my hypothesis
is correct or incorrect.>>My favorite part of the job
is interacting with other scientists from
around the world.>>My favorite part of my job
is probably my field work followed very closely
by the work that I do at the bench in the laboratory.>>My favorite part of my job
is interacting with people, just getting to talk to people,
hear what their concerns are, what they want to know.>>Hm, my favorite part of my job is coming up
with new questions. So, I like to solve problems. and, and really that is the core
of the research that I do.>>My favorite part of my job is
the impact that I know that I’m actually gonna have. [music]>>Stay curious about the world,
and really ask a lot of questions about things
going on around you. Be very persistent in trying to
find answers to your questions.>>Choose something that
you’re very passionate about. Choose, choose an area of
study that you just love. Be curious about
the environment. Be curious about people, and
be open to taking risks.>>Get passionate about
what you’re doing, but be very good at what you do.>>One of the most
important things is, is getting experience, and being able to really go in and
be given a problem, and be able to take that problem
apart if it’s really complex. To be able to break
down pieces of it, to come up with solutions.>>Really find something that
you’re, you’re interested in. If you are not interested in
what you are doing you’re not gonna really wanna go above and
beyond sort of the minimum. And that’s really what’s needed
in this field, is you have to be sort of passionate about
the research questions and, and methods and
approaches that you’re using.>>Just do it and pursue what
you love, continue to do it.>>If you are a person who
likes challenges and likes to learn things, don’t be afraid to
take on completely new things. Maybe if you’ve never done it
before it’s okay, it’s good to be able to learn new things
at any point in your life.>>Never stop looking for
other opportunities because you never really know everything
that’s out there. So, don’t be afraid to explore,
and maybe take a class, or
go to an event that might be somewhat outside of what you
think you’re interested in. Just sort of expand
your knowledge.>>Well, if you’re young,
I would say, take as many science and
math classes as you can. Learn something new everyday and
just get excited about it. And once you find your niche,
and you find what you’re really
interested in, go after it. [music]>>It’s the thrill of discovery. I, I like finding
out new things. I like discovering things, and I like telling other
people about them.>>I love thinking about how
the environment impacts human health, and how we in turn as people impact
the environment, and trying to make those the most harmonious
relationships possible.>>The best part about this job
is that it changes all the time. So, that’s, that’s what
I really like about it.>>I like my job because
it’s different every day. And I feel like I’m on a, a sort of a voyage of discovery
kinda like Lewis and Clark. We have a mission and we’re out there every day trying
to discover new things and it really is a discovery.>>I love that the work that
I do behind the scenes, will impact thousands or millions or
even billions of people. I think that science
is absolutely amazing.


  1. Mari Mack and Livin Like Kings
    Mari Mack and Livin Like Kings September 11, 2014

    Thank you so much for sharing this video. #STEM add the arts #STEAM

  2. Mayuya Ponya
    Mayuya Ponya February 8, 2018


  3. Apollo Musa
    Apollo Musa July 16, 2019

    Thanks for the information!!

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