Building a Network for Community-Based Science

Last year Gwen Ottinger, a research fellow in the Environmental History and Policy Program (EHPP), created a project that sought to bring the technical and analytical skills of chemists and chemical engineers to the aid of communities in need of their expertise. The Chemist-Community Collaborations (C3) project helps to build these bridges between technical experts and communities concerned about environmental quality. In their first project, C3 participants worked with local officials and NGOs to offer an assessment of a proposed boiler construction project in Delaware. Since then, Ottinger has been working with a diverse group of participants to assist the community of Hunting Park in North Philadelphia better understand potential air quality concerns. The project has brought together the Hunting Park Community Association, the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia (PILCoP), the Clean Air Council (CAC), and faculty from the College of Engineering at Drexel University. The report from the first phase of work in Hunting Park will be released in coming weeks.

The results of these collaborations have been more than just technical. They have helped us to realize that often times organizations operating in local communities need the assistance of many different organizations, but that there are few ways to link all of these disparate groups. As a step towards building a more comprehensive network of NGOs, public officials, community organizers, and academics, the EHPP has launched the Consortium for Community-Based Science in partnership with PILCoP and the CAC.

To assist with our efforts on these new fronts, the EHPP welcomed two new volunteers into its ranks: Matthew Hill brings with him an amazing resume: an undergraduate degree in chemistry, a master’s in philosophy, and a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Chicago. He has worked for the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, the Center for Applied Research, and Urban Futures (here in Philly). He focuses on urban research, conservation, and strategic planning. Also, he somehow finds time to teach in the Urban Studies Program at Penn. Needless to say, we’re very happy to have Matthew’s help on this project.

Also Doug Lisk joins us following a long and diverse career at Rohm and Haas where he worked in research, sales, marketing, and business development. He’ll be plying his trade of building relationships to help us cultivate a network of scientists and engineers in the Philadelphia area willing to assist us on C3 projects.

For more information please contact, Jody Roberts.

Posted In: Policy

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