University of Arizona Student Awarded NASA Spacegrant Fellowship

Aug. 1, 2008

Doctoral student, Theresa Foley (advisor, Eric Betterton) has been awarded a NASA Spacegrant Fellowship to work with the UA Superfund Basic Research Program (UA SBRP), US EPA and Sonora Environmental Research Institute, Inc (SERI), to analyze and translate airborne metals data into useful information.

The UA/NASA Space Grant Program provides six fellowships per year to graduate students studying science and engineering. Space Grant fellows are required to complete an educational outreach project as part of their fellowship. As a 2008 Space Grant fellow, Theresa will be conducting her outreach program in partnership with the UA SBRP and SERI, a non-profit Tucson organization that seeks to enhance community involvement in health and environmental issues. SERI focuses much of its effort in the largely Hispanic neighborhoods located on the south side of Tucson. SERI has created an innovative environmental health education program, Community Assist of Southern Arizona (CASA). CASA implements its goals through a Promotora program in which individuals South Tucson neighborhoods are trained in environmental health issues and conduct community outreach.

The Pima County Department of Environmental Quality Air Division monitors beryllium at six PM10 monitoring sites located in the Sunnyside Unified School District in South Tucson. SERI has obtained funding to analyze the same PM10 samples for seven additional metals:  lead, arsenic, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, manganese and nickel.  Theresa will be analyzing the metals data and translating her results into a format that is culturally sensitive and relevant for Mexican and Mexican American residents in Tucson. She will create informational brochures, which will be translated into Spanish, discussing the results of the beryllium study, the health effects of various metals and concentrations of naturally occurring metals in Arizona. Theresa will also be conducting an outreach program giving presentations to neighborhood associations and parent-teacher associations within the Sunnyside School District.  An important part of Theresa’s outreach program will be training the Promotoras from CASA.

Metals research, specifically arsenic, is an important part of the UA SBRP. Please refer to the UA SBRP research projects for more information.

Please join us in congratulating Theresa on this prestigious fellowship.