Investigator Update: Mónica Ramírez-Andreotta

Dr. Mónica Ramírez-Andreotta has been a part of the University of Arizona Superfund Research Program (UA SRP) since 2005, first as Research Translation Core Coordinator, and then as a Training Core Fellow earning her PhD in 2012. She then left to train as a post-doc and become Assistant Professor of Health Sciences at Northeastern University in Boston, MA working in the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute there. In 2015 Ramírez-Andreotta returned to the UA as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Soil, Water, and Environmental Science, and she continues to collaborate with UA SRP with seed funding from the Center for Environmentally Sustainable Mining. Following the success of her dissertation project, Gardenroots: The Dewey-Humboldt AZ Garden Project, Ramírez-Andreotta has continued her work investigating the uptake of metals by edible plants.

Throughout 2015, Ramírez-Andreotta has conducted environmental health needs assessments with UA Cooperative Extension agents and rural gardeners across Arizona. This led to the identification of concerns from community members neighboring current and legacy resource extraction activities regarding their water, soil, plant and air quality. It also highlighted the desire of community members to work with researchers to evaluate potential environmental health risks. In response to these needs and building off of the successes of the Dewey-Humboldt, AZ Garden project, a broader co-created citizen science program called “Gardenroots: The Arizona Garden Project” has been launched in three Arizona counties (Apache, Cochise, Greenlee) to evaluate environmental quality in rural residential and community gardens. To date, over 100 citizen scientists have been trained in six trainings and more than 50 families have submitted soil, water, plant and/or dust samples for analysis.

Ramírez-Andreotta also mentored a student, Adriana Ruiz Flores, from the Latin American Summer Research Program 2015 in performing a project at the Tucson Mission Garden. The Friends of Tucson Birthplace, the non-profit organization that supports the garden, requested support from Ramírez-Andreotta and her student to determine soil and plant quality.   The organization has already expressed a wish to support Ruiz Flores for performing another project at the mission garden next summer.

In addition, Ramírez-Andreotta has completed a project in Washington County, PA to investigate the quality of soils and garden vegetables near natural gas drilling activities. She partnered with the Southwest Pennsylvania-Environmental Health Project to collect and measure organic and inorganic contaminants of concern. They will release personalized results packets for participants in the summer of 2016.

Stay tuned for additional information from our vegetable uptake expert, Dr. Ramírez-Andreotta!