Agents of Change: New fellows seek to reimagine science communication

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We are excited to announce our second round of Agents of Change in Environmental Health fellows.


Amplifying voices of next generation environmental health and justice leaders has grown in relevance and urgency as we face a public health pandemic, economic collapse, racial injustice, and increasing effects of climate change.

Business as usual will not lead us out of this, we need fresh ideas that are grounded in science, community, diversity, and equity.

That’s where our Agents come in—the fellows are doctoral students, postdocs, and scientists in academic institutions, state government and non-profit public interest organizations with training in public health, medicine, engineering, chemistry, and environmental education.

Their diverse social identities reflect the changing face of science. Our cohort includes scientists who have been marginalized due to their race/ethnicity, gender identity, socioeconomic status, geography, sexual orientation, religion, and family background. Many of them have experienced multiple forms of oppression due to their social identities; so phrases like racism, intersectionality, social and economic inequities are not just buzzwords but forces that have shaped their lived experiences and career paths.

This group is actively working on a broad range of issues including: air pollution, climate change, toxics in consumer products, transportation equity, renewable energy, nutrition and food justice, youth environmental literacy, epigenetics and the exposome, health disparities, and community capacity building.

Our new fellows:

  • Abrania Marrero: PhD candidate at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  • April Ballard, MPH: PhD candidate at Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University
  • Dana Williamson, PhD, MPH: ASPPH/EPA Environmental Health Fellow at the USEPA Office of Science Advisor, Policy & Engagement
  • Jamaji Nwanaji-Enwerem, PhD: postdoctoral fellow at UC Berkeley School of Public Health and a final-year MD/MPP candidate at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Kennedy School of Government
  • Kartik Amarnath, MS: MD and MPH candidate at SUNY Downstate
  • Krystal Vasquez: PhD candidate at California Institute of Technology
  • Misbath Daouda, MPH: PhD candidate at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health
  • Michelle Gin, MPH: Minnesota Department of Health
  • Mustafa Saifuddin, PhD: Staff scientist, Earthjustice
  • OreOluwa Badaki, MsEd: PhD candidate, University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education
  • Regan Patterson, PhD: Transportation Equity Research Fellow at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation
  • Yoshira Ornelas Van Horne, PhD: postdoctoral research associate at USC

The new fellows are the second cohort of Agents of Change. Our first group of fellows wrote about farmworkers’ rights, oil and gas communities, bias and racism in public health research, Indigenous fire practices, Black food sovereignty, gentrification, and housing rights. Their essays are closing in on a million views—but the reach goes beyond just clicks. Their words are also in university syllabi and have been heard on NPR affiliates, podcasts, and through webinars.

We are proud of that work. Now we want to broaden our reach and bolster our impact. Similar to the first year, we will continue to bring their stories to you through narrative first person essays.

But this time we’ll be expanding that to podcasts so listeners can hear fellows’ voices and stories.

Join us. Let’s elevate voices of reason, truth, and justice.

And to kick things off, we want to let you know who we are and how we arrived here. Listen below to us discussing the program, our roles, and why we see this as a crucial time to upend the status quo on science communication.

Ami Zota is the Program Director of Agents of Change and an Associate Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at The George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. Brian Bienkowski is the senior editor of Environmental Health News and editor of Agents of Change.

To learn more about the Agents of Change program visit https://www.agentsofchangeineh.com/.