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CitSci2019’s Environmental Justice Panel

Special Panel on Environmental Justice and Community Science to be the Highlight of Friday Evening at CitSci2019

As previously mentioned, CitSci2019 will have three special tracks: Environmental Justice, Problem-driven citizen science, and citizen science in education. In addition to our keynote speakers who will provide insight and perspective on each of the special tracks, a special panel on Environmental Justice and Community Science will be held on Friday evening.

Panel Title: Environmental Justice and Community Science: A Social Movement for Inpowerment, Compliance, and Action

Date/Time: Friday, March 15, 2019 from 5:30PM-8:00PM

Environmental justice (EJ) advocates and activists have for decades used community science to raise awareness about EJ concerns, inpower residents, increase community capacity, and translate research to action. Panelists will discuss their community-driven research efforts to understand and address: 1) environmental justice and military wastes in Alaska; 2) goods movement, ports, and refineries in Oakland, California and Detroit, Michigan; 3) lack of basic amenities in North Carolina; and 4) environmental justice, hurricanes, and health disparities in the Gulf Coast and Puerto Rico. Panelists will describe the challenges of doing community science, detail successes, and share lessons learned, best practices, and issues yet resolved.

Moderator: Dr. Sacoby M. Wilson, University of Maryland-College Park (photo courtesy of moderator)

The panel will be moderated by Dr. Sacoby Wilson, an Associate Professor in the School of Public Health, at the University of Maryland-College Park and director of the Community Engagement, Environmental Justice and Health (CEEJH) Initiative.  Dr. Wilson has over 15 years of experience as environmental health scientist and works primarily in partnership with community-based organizations to study and address environmental justice and health issues and translate research to action. Dr. Wilson has received many awards for his contributions and achievements as an environmental justice researcher and advocate.


The panelists bring with them different backgrounds which will provide a broader perspective of Community Science in the context of Environmental Justice.

*photos courtesy of panelist

Viola (“Vi”) Waghiyi is the Environmental Health and Justice Program Director in Anchorage, AK. Her environmental health and justice efforts in St. Lawrence Island earned her an Environmental Achievement Award by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, and leaders of Savoonga presented Waghiyi with a certificate of appreciation “for the dedication and devoted service as an Ambassador of St. Lawrence Island for protecting our health and human rights.” She served as a National Advisory Environmental Health Sciences Council member to the National Institute of Health (2012-2017).

Margaret Gordon is co-director of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project (EIP) and co-coordinator of the Bay Area Ditching Dirty Diesel Collaborative. She won the 2004 East Bay Community Foundation’s first-ever Power of Effective Giving Award and has been recognized for her volunteer work on behalf of the West Oakland EIP and her work on environmental and health issues in West Oakland. She connected the asthma plaguing her community to pollution from the nearby port and coordinated grassroots efforts to improved the area’s environmental health.

Omega Wilson, co-founder of the West End Revitalization Association, brings decades of experience advocating for basic public health amenities for people of color and marginalized communities in central North Carolina. Mr. Wilson was awarded the U.S. EPA’s Environmental Justice Achievement Award in 2008, and served on the EPA’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) 2007-2010 in addition to many regional awards and committees.

Vincent Martin is a community activist who has worked tirelessly for over 15 years on the local and national level to allow people the right to BREATHE, by volunteering his time to collect and provide data needed to push efforts to improve air quality for local residents. Vincent has been successful in giving a voice at the national level, representing his childhood neighborhood, Southwest Detroit, during meetings with the US EPA and US State Department. He currently works with several organizations including the Congress of Communities, Original United Citizens of Southwest Detroit and the Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition (MEJC). He is also very active at the national level working with The Title VI Alliance task force and the Sierra Club. Vincent decided to pursue his EJ passion full-time in 2018. He has formed his own EJ consulting company that works with local communities and organizations to give a voice to the underserved.

Dr. Beverly Wright is a leading scholar and advocate in the environmental justice arena and has served on numerous boards, committees, councils, and offices including the EPA’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) over the last two decades. She is founding director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice (DSCEJ) and her tireless efforts in environmental justice have earned her numerous awards. She provided valuable input into President Clinton’s Environmental Justice Transition paper, and served on the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC).

Dr. Carmen Vélez Vega is Professor at the Doctoral Program in Social Determinants of Health, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Puerto Rico-Medical Sciences Campus, School of Public Health. Vega is a social worker by training and experienced in community engagement activities. Co-Principal Investigator for: a) Community Engagement Core in Puerto Rico Testsite for Exploring Contamination Threats (PROTECT); b) Center for Research on Early Childhood Exposure and Development in Puerto Rico (CRECE), Community Outreach and Translation Core; and c) International Prospective Observational Cohort Study of Zika in Infants and Pregnancy, Puerto Rico Karst Site. Member of The Global and Territorial Health Research Network; Dr Vega has been active in the relief effort post Hurricanes Irma and María in supporting community partners in Puerto Rico.

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