Trainee success story: Mónica Ramírez-Andreotta

Mónica Ramírez-Andreotta, former University of Arizona SRP Research Translation Coordinator and Training Core graduate student, completed her PhD in December 2012 under the guidance of Dr. Raina Maier and Dr. Mark Brusseau.

As a doctoral candidate, Monica developed a citizen-science program that she named Gardenroots, for which she received a $15,000 EPA grant from the Office of Research and Development. Gardenroots was created in response to home gardening concerns in the Dewey-Humboldt, AZ community over possible metal contamination from the neighboring Iron King Mine and Humboldt Smelter Superfund site. The objective of Gardenroots was to determine whether garden vegetables grown in Dewey-Humboldt had elevated levels of metals such as arsenic and lead. The Gardenroots research project combined controlled greenhouse studies with citizen-science training and research designed to inform and engage community members about their home-grown vegetables, soil, and water. This project looked also to empower the community to become ambassadors for the environment in their own communities.

To complete her doctoral degree, Monica received a: SRP Training Fellowship, UA Diversity Fellowship, NASA Space Grant Graduate Fellowship, National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering Scholarship, and was a UA Water Sustainability Program Graduate Fellow. Recently, she was named the 14th recipient of the NIEHS SRP Karen Wetterhahn Memorial Award.

A publication entitled “A greenhouse and field-based study to determine the accumulation of arsenic in common homegrown vegetables grown in mining-affected soils” was recently published in Science of the Total Environment (Ramirez-Andreotta, M.D., Brusseau, M.L., Artiola, J.F., and Maier, R.M. Science Total Environment, 443, 299-306.)

Monica has just arrived in Boston where she is doing postdoctoral research with Dr. Phil Brown, Director of the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute at Northeastern University.