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Environmental Protection for the 21st Century: Putting Equity at the Top of the Agenda

Technology Opportunity Workgroup 

The goal of this workgroup is to identify needs and opportunities for using available and emerging technologies to promote fairer and more equitable environmental protection.

Working Papers

Original research conducted by the work group, these emerging technologies show a way towards a more equitable future. While there will always be more research to be done on these topics, these working papers provide a foundational understanding and path forward to follow and expand upon. Interviews and case studies outlined in these papers detail the ways these technologies emerged and the triumphs and challenges that await.

The following papers outline emerging technologies that the workgroup has researched:

Enhanced Air Monitoring - October 2021
Geospatial Technologies - October 2021
Advanced Manufacturing Technologies (AMT) - October 2021
Synthetic Biology - December 2021
Community Air Monitoring Network Case Study - December 2021

Technology Opportunities Symposium

The Center for Environmental Policy at American University's School of Public Affairs hosted an interactive symposium that addressed the ways in which technologies can be used to advance fairer, more equitable, and effective environmental protection. The symposium presented a variety of specific technology issues and the ways in which each can play a role in address inequities.

Technology Opportunity Workgroup Members

Mr. Brenner played a key role in the development, Congressional passage, and implementation of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 in his role as Director of EPA’s Air Policy Office, EPA (98’-11’).  He also supported innovative, cost-effective ways to implement the law’s provisions, particularly through the use of market-based approaches such as emissions trading. He helped develop Community Action for a Renewed Environment (CARE), a cross-media toxics reduction initiative. Mr. Brenner recently completed a Senior Fellowship at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University and serves on the Keystone Foundation Energy Board, the Board of CMC Energy Services, and the Advisory Board for Princeton University’s Scholars in the Nation’s Service Initiative.

Mr. Harper manages a broad set of corporate sustainability initiatives at Intel, such as chemicals management, energy efficiency, and water stewardship. Mr. Harper serves on a number of boards, including the Energy Foundation, the Chesapeake Conservancy, the Center for Environmental Policy at AU and the Environmental and Energy Management Institute at GWU). Prior to Intel, Mr. Harper served in senior positions at Amoco Oil Company, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), ICF Consulting, and the California State Coastal Conservancy.

Mr. Hawkins is the former CEO of DC Water where he was known for transforming the agency into an innovative, customer-driven enterprise, while tripling its investment in clean water. Prior to joining DC Water, Mr. Hawkins was Director of the District of Columbia Department of the Environment and has also served as Executive Director of several non-profit organizations in New Jersey, and previously held senior positions with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the law firm Ropes & Gray.

Dr. Hsieh teaches chemistry at Trinity, where she has also served as Assistant Provost of the Sciences. She previously was Associate Professor at Smith College, in the Chemistry Department and Environmental Science and Policy Program. After a AAAS Fellowship at EPA, she changed her research focus from atmospheric chemistry to environmental justice. Since 2013, she has been working in DC to provide air quality monitoring for communities, so they have data to strengthen their advocacy efforts.

Ruhan Nagra is Supervisor in Human Rights Practice at the University Network for Human Rights. She previously served as clinical instructor at Stanford Law School’s Human Rights Clinic and a legal fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights, where she focused on accountability for torture, war crimes, and militarism; Palestinian human rights; LGBTQ persecution; and corporate human rights abuses.

Mr. Ong manages ClearPath’s work on hydropower and clean fossil energy, with a focus on policy levers to develop and demonstrate breakthrough technologies. Prior to ClearPath, Justin worked on energy policy and systems analysis at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Nicholas Institute for Policy Solutions.

Dr. Padgett serves as Associate Professor of Geography and Director of the Geographic and Information Sciences Laboratory at Tennessee State University (TSU), where he has worked for more than 21 years. Dr. Padgett is also CEO of GEO-MENTAL, an environmental justice research and consulting firm focused on jobs, education and health, in addition to environmental degradation. Since 2001, Dr. Padgett has been TSU’s GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) Partner and Trainer where he provides training to pre- and in-service educators.

Mr. Rejeski joined ELI in October 2016 after serving as director of the Science, Technology and Innovation Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center. Prior to the Wilson Center, he worked at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Council on Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency. Mr. Rejeski is a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA), a guest Researcher at the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis in Austria, a member of EPA’s National Advisory Council on Environmental Policy and Technology, and board member of AU’s Center for Environmental Policy.

Ms. Schroeder is VP for digital delivery and solutions at Abt Associates. Before coming to Abt, Ms. Schroeder was a partner at IBM, where she led a sales team and managed accounts that included the Departments of Education and Transportation, the EPA, the OPM, and congressional offices. Schroeder also led state and local business development for K-12 and state department of education clients from California to Massachusetts and supported K-12 solution development for clients in the Middle East. She also has worked for Coopers & Lybrand/PwC Consulting, SAIC, Westat, and ICF.

Dr. Shatkin is an environmental health scientist and recognized expert in environmental science and policy, human health risk assessment, emerging contaminants policy and environmental aspects of nanotechnology. Dr. Shatkin is President of Vireo Advisors, LLC, which is focused on regulatory and safety strategies for novel bio-based and nanoscale technology development and innovation. Previously, she served as CEO of CLF Ventures. Dr. Shatkin pioneered the use of life cycle thinking in risk analysis for nanomaterials, collaborating with the U.S. EPA. She serves on the board of the Center for Environmental Policy at AU and the University of Maine Forest Bioproducts Research Institute and was a Switzer Environmental Fellow.

Dr. Shurn is a Howard University Electrical Engineering and Computer Science faculty member and serves as an advisor to Full Color Future (, an organization actively engaged celebrating positive narratives about people of color contributing in engineering, media and technology policy. In addition to his faculty position at Howard, Dr. Shurn is a University of Michigan Urban Collaboratory consultant for research projects designed to improve Benton Harbor, Michigan livability. Todd is conducting on the ground management of an NSF research grant to explore smart and connected cities solutions for this economically depressed community.

Dr. Thayer directs EPA’s IRIS program, which identifies and characterizes the health hazards of chemicals found in the environment by developing toxicity and risk assessment reports. Previously, Dr. Thayer served as the director of the Office of Health Assessment and Translation at National Toxicology Program (NTP) and in the non-profit public health community in Washington, DC, on issues related to environmental contaminants.

Dr. Yosie has held senior-level management positions in government, corporate and consulting organizations. Serving as President & CEO of the World Environment Center (06’-19’); VP at the American Chemistry Council (99’-05’); VP for Health and Environment at the American Petroleum Institute (88’-92’); and Director of the EPA’s Science Advisory Board (81’-88’). Dr. Yosie is the author of more than seventy professional publications and co-editor of a book entitled, Sustainable Environmental Management. He has published numerous articles on sustainability strategy and management and has lectured at many universities.

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