Yoshira Ornelas Van Horne's Journey in Environmental Health

May 20, 2021


Yoshira Ornelas Van Horne, former University of Arizona Superfund Research Center (UA SRC) Trainee mentored by Dr. Paloma Beamer and Dr. Karletta Chief, just published her PhD dissertation findings in the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology.

Her publication, “Impacts to Diné Activities with the San Juan River after the Gold King Mine Spill,” focused on understanding how the Gold King Mine spill affected the daily activities of the community members and the quality of the San Juan River. Her work also investigated health risks pre- and post-spill.

The study shows that there were significant reductions in the total number, frequency, and duration of livelihood, dietary, recreational, cultural/spiritual and arts and craft activities after the spill.

In the article Van Horne states, “culturally sensitive community outreach is necessary for the recovery and healing among the Diné, along with utilization of interpreters.” It concludes, “the ability to respond in a culturally appropriate manner is crucial when working with the communities affected. Governmental agencies, community members, scientists, and media outlets need to develop a cohesive culturally relevant dissemination strategy and work together to assess and mitigate the impacts of environmental disasters.”

Van Horne is currently a Postdoctoral Researcher at University of Southern California, conducting research on mixture modeling of particulate matter, metals, and pesticide exposures from ambient dust samples and their association with respiratory health symptoms in children. She is trying to understand how multi-environmental exposures are driving the disproportionate rates of respiratory health symptoms in Latino children in the Imperial Valley, California.

Read Van Horne’s recent interview by Environmental Health News and listen to her podcast at the Agents of Change in Environmental Health News to see what this amazing young woman is up to next.

Congratulation Yoshi and much success in your journey in environmental health!



Van Horne YO, Chief K, Charley PH, Begay MG, Lothrop N, Bell ML, Canales RA, Teufel-Shone NI, Beamer PI. Impacts to Diné activities with the San Juan River after the Gold King Mine Spill. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2021 Feb 1. doi: 10.1038/s41370-021-00290-z. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33526814. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41370-021-00290-z