UMass Amherst Economics Ph.D. student Grace Chang was among 120 students across the U.S. selected for the prestigious STAR (Science to Achieve Results) dissertation fellowship from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA STAR fellowship provides $111,000 of support over three years. Ms. Chang will use the funds to study environmental justice in exposure to industrial toxics in the United States.
Ms. Chang will use a unique new dataset from the Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators (RSEI) project of the EPA to examine the social, economic, temporal, and geographic structure of exposure to industrial toxic releases in the United States.
Ms. Chang states, “My main focus is the health risk affecting low-income people and communities of color that are disproportionately exposed to industrial toxics. My work should be useful to environmental justice scholars, community activists, and socially responsible managers and investors.”
The goal of the research is to improve understanding of the dynamics of neighborhood environmental inequality, with broader impacts in public policy, community health, and corporate environmental performance. Chang works with the Corporate Toxics Information Project based at the Political Economy Research Institute and co-directed by UMass Amherst Professors James K. Boyce and Michael Ash. Ash comments, “Grace has developed a terrific project, and her selection demonstrates EPA’s increased attention to questions of social justice and equity in environmental protection.”
EPA created the STAR fellowship program in 1995 to help the U.S. cultivate outstanding researchers in environmental science, engineering, and policy. STAR fellowships bolster the environmental generation of tomorrow, build a bridge to diverse communities, and boost excellent research and development that advance the protection of human health and the environment.