UA SRP Investigator Hits the Ground Running!

University of Arizona Superfund Research Program (UA SRP) Research Translation Core (RTC) investigator, Dr. Monica Ramirez-Andreotta, has been making waves since returning home to take a faculty position at her alma mater, the University of Arizona, last year. Ramirez-Andreotta is a transdisciplinary environmental health scientist who specializes in the fate and transport of contaminants in plant-soil systems, research translation, and community engagement efforts. Within this last year, she has received a number of city, state, international, and foundation grants to support her burgeoning research program.

City of Tucson, Investigation of Urban Agricultural Applications for City of Tucson Landfills - Ramirez-Andreotta is collaborating with UA SRP investigator Dr. Mark Brusseau to create innovative land use solutions for historic landfills. Supported by a $37,000 grant from City of Tucson they will investigate the possibility of vegetating capped landfills to host urban agricultural activities, specifically grazing. The project has two parts, the first phase will involve a literature review and data collection, while the second phase will involve the collection of soil samples and a subsequent physiochemical characterization of the landfill’s erosion layer and root zone.

City of Bisbee, Tintown Drainage Study - The City of Bisbee, home to the famous Copper Queen mine, has awarded Ramirez-Andreotta with $2,500 to collaborate on an environmental quality assessment of a site that is undergoing planning as a future community garden. After collecting environmental monitoring data from the site, Ramirez-Andreotta will make recommendations regarding the appropriate crops to be grown in the area, the required site maintenance to sustain the garden, and, if necessary, she will provide ongoing monitoring of the sites.

Arizona Department of Health Services, Risk Communication of Environmental Contaminants - Ramirez-Andreotta has received a $25,000 grant from the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) for a project entitled: “Risk Communication of Environmental Contaminants”.  Together, ADHS and Ramirez-Andreotta are developing informational materials, activities, and power point presentations to explain environmental contamination to at-risk communities living near Superfund sites. In addition to developing these technical resources, Monica will pilot test these materials with community members and government agency personnel to evaluate their relevance, effectiveness, and usability. The solicited feedback will be incorporated into the final materials which will be available in both English and Spanish.

Wilson Center, International Citizen Science Stakeholder Analysis - Citizen Science is a form of research collaboration involving the inclusion of volunteers into authentic scientific research. Ramirez-Andreotta along with colleagues Claudia Göbel (Headquarters Coordinator for the European Citizen Science Association) and Vicki Martin (PhD candidate at Southern Cross University, Australia) were selected by the Wilson Center’s Commons Lab to perform an International Citizen Science Stakeholder Analysis. With $7,000 from the Wilson Center, the team will work to identify different types of stakeholders and the related potential issues that could arise with data and metadata standardization. For more details on this project, visit: https://www.wilsoncenter.org/publication/international-citizen-science-stakeholder-analysis#sthash.xx73q4iz.dpuf

Agnese Haury Foundation, Seed Grant – The Sonora Environmental Research Institute (SERI), Ramirez-Andreotta, and UA SRP investigator Dr. Eric Betterton were awarded $25,000 from the Agnese Nelms Haury Seed Grant Program for a project entitled, “Facilitating Community Action to Address Climate Change and Build Resiliency in Southern Metropolitan Tucson.” This project focuses on the mitigating the disproportionate impacts from climate change facing the marginalized, low-income communities of southern metropolitan Tucson. Through workshops, home visits, demonstration sites, and hands-on experiments, the program is working to build community leaders, to increase community understanding of climate change and sustainability, and to increase the resilience of the community by reducing vulnerability to extreme temperatures, one household at a time. On March 31, 2016, 20 promotoras (community health workers) completed a 10-day 40-hour Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability Promotora Certificate training designed by this team. As part of the training, promotoras collected soil and water samples from 30 residential water harvesting systems and made approximately 50 home visits. UA SRP trainees Denise Moreno Ramirez and Melisa Bohlman worked with the promotoras on preparation of the soil samples for analysis. Coursework featured modules on energy use, conservation, and efficiency taught by UA SRP investigator Dr. Janick Artiola and discussions on heat and air quality pollutants by UA SRP investigator Dr. Eduardo Saez