Center for Environmental Research and Community Engagement
Numerous communities in Los Angeles County have legitimate concerns about environmental exposures of their residents due to proximity to toxic sites, highways, airports, and contaminated groundwater. Many of these communities are underserved and not in a position to fund the environmental testing and research needed to provide their residents with information on the environmental safety of their community. Examples of these communities include residents living near the closed Exide battery recycling facility, residents in proximity to the industrial activities at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and numerous communities with highly contaminated groundwater.
UCLA students and faculty benefit significantly from increased connections to community needs as it will help faculty find relevant and timely projects and research questions. UCLA students are eager to apply what they are learning to make meaningful contributions to enhance human health and the environment. The goals of the center are in accord with those of the Sustainable LA Grand Challenge.
Meet Our Team
Jennifer Jay, Ph.D.
Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Suzanne Paulson, Ph.D.
Center Air Quality Director
Professor, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
Mark Gold, Ph.D.
Associate Vice Chancellor for Environment and Sustainability
Sustainable LA Grand Challenge
Christine Lee, Ph.D.
Assistant Researcher, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability
Associate Professor, Civil and
Academic Director, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability
Kathy O’Byrne, Ph.D.
Center for Community Learning
Michael Stenstrom, Ph.D.
Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Lead in Soil
Professor Jay’s laboratory is currently measuring lead (Pb) levels in soil and sand collected from playgrounds at public parks in Los Angeles. We are testing parks in neighborhoods with very high and very low pollution burdens as characterized by the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment’s EnviroScreen maps. UCLA Civil and Environmental Engineering Masters student Wayne Hung is currently collecting samples and measuring them for Pb.
Storm Drain Sampling
This new Center, while housed primarily in the School of Engineering, brings together faculty and students across UCLA departments, institutes, and schools to:
- Provide underserved communities with testing of air, soils, or water at no or greatly reduced cost.
- Assist communities with interpretation of data on contaminant levels. This may involve literature reviews and analysis of data.
- Answer environmental research questions derived from community needs regarding contaminant mobility and speciation. We currently have analytical capabilities for a range of metals, pathogens, and emerging contaminants including antibiotic resistance genes.
- Provide UCLA students and faculty with meaningful interdisciplinary projects spanning environmental science and engineering, chemistry, policy, regulation, public health, risk assessment, and communication. These projects may involve lab work, analysis, and community engagement.
- Undergraduate course credit will be provided through 199’s for independent projects as well as through a new course, CEE184, for group research related to larger Center projects involving several students.
- Center projects will provide Civil and Environmental Engineering Masters students with thesis projects.
- UCLA Ph.D. students will have mentoring opportunities for both undergraduate and MS students.
- Data analysis in response to community needs can be incorporated into undergraduate and graduate courses in statistics, aquatic chemistry, and chemical fate and transport.
- Students in summer internship programs such as the High School Summer Research Program and the BRIDGE program with community colleges can work on Center projects.
- With sufficient funding, the Center could offer paid internships to provide research opportunities for students from groups that are underrepresented in science and engineering.
- Develop technical and policy recommendations to remediate those sites that pose a health risk to the local community
- Assist communities in applying for technical assistance grants.
The results of the research projects will be presented to the affected communities and those regulatory agencies with potential responsibility to remediate contamination in soil, water or air.
If your Greater Los Angeles community is concerned about environmental exposures, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the form below. We will respond as soon as possible.
Ways To Give
The Center does not receive a budget from UCLA and relies on donations from private citizens and foundations. Please contact Professor Jay at regarding a tax-deductible donation ear-marked specifically for environmental work for underserved Los Angeles communities.