UCS Science Network

UCS

Through our Science Network, UCS collaborates with nearly 20,000 scientists and technical experts across the country, including physicists, ecologists, engineers, public health professionals, economists, and energy analysts. Science Network Voices gives Equation readers access to the depth of expertise and broad perspective on current issues that our Science Network members bring to UCS. The views expressed in Science Network posts are those of the author alone.

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The public water supply in Hyannis, Massachusetts, one of the communities currently dealing PFAS contamination. Photo: A. Fox. Courtesy of STEEP

Federal Health Study on Drinking Water Contaminants Calls into Question Safety of Nation’s Drinking Water Supply

Dr. Laurel Schaider

On a late June evening in a high school auditorium in Exeter, NH, dozens of people stepped up to the microphone to tell EPA about contaminated drinking water in their communities. They described unexplained illnesses in their families, expressed frustration about inadequate government response, and shared their guilt and fear about their children’s exposures to toxics and the possible long-term effects. “Years before becoming pregnant, I was educating people on how to eliminate environmental toxics from their personal care products and food. That’s why this was so devastating,” said Alayna Davis, co-founder of a local community group called Testing for Pease. “I could not prevent this water from contaminating my son’s body.”  Read more >

Courtesy of STEEP, photo by A. Fox.
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Photo: W.carter/Wikimedia Commons

If You Smell Something, Say Something: Identifying Local Natural Gas Leaks

Sarah Salois

Walking my dog around my neighborhood one day, I caught a whiff of something very clearly – gas. At first, I noted the smell but assumed it was a fleeting odor and chalked it up to urban living. But soon I realized there was nothing fleeting about it.  I take the same route each day, and it became clear that specific locations  persistently smelled strongly of gas. Internal alarm bells went off in my head as I calculated the amount of gas necessary to be detected outside, in open air, uncontained. I asked my neighbors and the local utility company about the leaks – surely, I was not the only one who had noticed the smell, which led to my next question, what was being done about it? I was surprised to find that my neighbors had actually been smelling the leaks and alerting the utility companies for years. YEARS. I was shocked, and I wanted to know more.

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Photo: W.carter/Wikimedia Commons
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Photo: InTeGrate, Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College

Science Citizenship: Making Science Actionable

Sarah Fortner

I decided to pursue a career in science in part because my high school chemistry teacher believed in me and sent me on a glacier expedition. Are you helping your students understand how to form a science supported-opinion? Are you teaching your students how to evaluate and communicate using science? Students need to learn about more than how earth and environmental systems work; they needed to know how their work connected to community and political decisions. Helping them see and realize their personal and local power is central to justice. Read more >

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Photo: US Marines

The Time Has Come for Stronger Investment in Water Infrastructure – Especially for Underserved Communities

Sara Schwartz

When news of the Flint water crisis broke headlines, 21 million people across the country relied on water systems that violated health standards. Low-income communities, minority populations, and rural towns disproportionately deal with barriers to safe water. Drinking water challenges are complex: failing infrastructure, polluted water sources, and low capacity utility management are all part of the issue. Read more >

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Uniting Young Scientists: Building a National Network for Grassroots Science Policy

Holly Mayton

According to a 2014 study by the American Institutes for Research, less than half of STEM Ph.D. graduates are employed in academic careers. Unfortunately, by nature of pursuing our degrees in academia it is difficult to identify mentors, expand networks, or practice skills for a non-academic career during graduate school. This challenge has been recognized by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) in their recent report, which calls for a broad range of changes in the graduate education enterprise to make the system more student-centric and better prepare students for careers that address global societal needs. Read more >

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