TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – From failing storm water infrastructure to inequities in green spaces that can adversely affect the body’s resiliency, experts in environmental justice will detail the growing issues in Alabama and across the country in a panel discussion at University of Alabama.
“Environmental Justice: Research, Conversation and Networking Across Disciplines,” will be held Oct. 16 at the Hotel Capstone on the UA Campus. The four-member panel discussion will begin at 2 p.m.; reception and networking with more than 10 local and state environmental advocacy groups begin at 4 p.m.
Dr. Brenda Smith, associate professor of social work and one of the event organizers, said environmental justice is an area of concern nationally, and she hopes UA’s event helps spark more interdisciplinary research and educational opportunities among faculty and students.
“In reaching out across campus, I’ve gotten the sense that there is considerable interest in environmental justice,” Smith said. “But some didn’t realize there are social work researchers in this area. So, this event is a great opportunity for researchers to identify others working toward similar goals.”
Community groups, including the Black Warrior Riverkeeper, the Alabama Rivers Alliance, and Gasp, a non-profit organization that advocates for clean air in Alabama, will have information booths at the event. Each group will have signups to assist with various environmental causes throughout the Tuscaloosa area.
- Lisa Reyes Mason, associate professor of social work, University of Tennessee
Mason, who has received research funding from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, will discuss green infrastructure and socially responsible storm water management, particularly how she’s worked in interdisciplinary settings with engineers and climatologists to seek social solutions.
- Shauntice Allen, assistant professor of public health, University of Alabama at Birmingham
Allen leads community engagement for UAB’s Center for Clinical and Translational Science, which works to reduce disparities in diseases across the Southeast. Allen, who recently published a paper about the environmental justice issues in North Birmingham, will present an overview of the environmental justice movement.
- Gibran Mancus, assistant professor of nursing, University of Alabama
Mancus’ research looks at the intersection of the environment and human health, specifically how access to green spaces affect physiological stress responses in the human body. Mancus will discuss research findings where increased exposure to green spaces is associated with increased ratio of cortisol to dehydroepiandrosterone, biological markers of stress response.
- Parnab Das, fifth-year PhD student, University of Alabama
Das is working toward a doctoral degree in civil, construction and environmental engineering. His research focus is environmental microbiology, waste water contamination and water quality. He is currently working with the effect of the discharge of raw sewage from unsewered homes in the Blackbelt region of Alabama.