Planetary Health

Planetary Health

CONNECT:  Humans and the planet.

KNOW: The health of one impacts the other. And humans put a heavy thumb on the scale.

UNDERSTAND: If we explore the links and the challenges, we can change course. We can find solutions that lead to health for humans, animals and the planet.

This is planetary health.

UW-Madison’s Global Health Institute, under the leadership of Director Jonathan Patz, is opening doors for Planetary Health research and scholarship that will point us toward a healthy future.

Humans have thrived. We live longer and better than ever, thanks to innovations in public health, agriculture and technology. Yet, as the population grows, as we consume more, long-term health and well-being are in jeopardy. The environment suffers, resources vanish, systems shut down.

This is the Anthropocene epoch: a time in which humans are changing the planet, and—because it is changed—the planet’s ability to sustain a growing human population is diminished.

We already feel the heat of record temperatures and fire, the sting of expanding mosquito populations, the saturation of too much rain. We see the disappearance of pollinators, the collapse of fisheries, the failure of crops. We breathe air so polluted you can barely see through it. “We mortgage the health of future generations to realize economic and development gains in the present,” the Rockefeller Foundation-Lancet Commission on planetary health declared.

UW-Madison’s Global Health Institute is committed to finding the connections between human health and the health of the earth. Looking at what we are doing to the systems that make the planet habitable for human life. Looking at the health consequences of the changes we’ve created, from pollution to water scarcity to the loss of biodiversity to climate change. Looking for resilience and a new way forward.

A young girl carries her seedling to where it will be planted.

PLANETARY HEALTH SCHOLARS:

The application period for 2020-2021 Planetary Health Graduate Scholarships is closed.

With the Planetary Health Graduate Scholarship program, the University of Wisconsin-Madison brings together graduate and professional students and their faculty advisors from across disciplines who study how the health of the planet and the health of humans are interdependent. Together, they will find solutions that benefit health for all, leading us toward resilience and a healthier, sustainable future.

Climate and health pioneer Jonathan Patz, director of the Global Health Institute and the John P. Holton Chair for Health and the Environment, leads the program. It’s funded with a gift from UW alumni Dave and Sarah Epstein, who are also members of the UW-Madison Global Health Institute Board of Visitors. It will be co-administered through GHI and the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. Learn more.

(Planetary Health Scholarship details) 

 

 

Planetary Health Scholars Cohort: Fall 2020

Rebecca Alcock

School of Engineering

Advisor: Justin Boutilier, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Industrial and Systems Engineering

Justin Boutilier

Rebecca is currently a master’s student in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. Her studies focus on the intersection of product design and the social sciences to tackle global inequality, particularly in health. She has been fortunate to have interdisciplinary collaborations across campus, stemming from the Morgridge Institute for Research and the Grainger Engineering Design Innovation Lab, that have led to global health partnerships in Central America, East Africa, and Southern India. Outside of her academic activities, she is a volunteer for the non-profit Engineers Without Borders (EWB) and served as an EWB field intern in rural Guatemala after completing her undergraduate education in 2018. This experience exposed the institutions that create or reinforce inequality in EWB’s partner communities and strengthened Rebecca’s interest in improving the social determinants of health and designing equitable healthcare systems. In the fall, Rebecca will begin her Ph.D. studies in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering and investigate a novel renewable energy and transportation network for underserved communities, centered around their local healthcare system. When not in the classroom or lab, Rebecca can be found at the state parks or on Madison’s lakes and ultimate frisbee fields.

Yaa Oparebea Ampofo

School of Education

Advisor: Nancy Kendall, professor and chair, Department of Policy Studies; director, African Studies Program

Nancy Kendall

Ampofo is a doctoral student in the Department of EducationalPolicy Studies with a concentration in Comparative and International Education. Her research interests lie at the intersection of education decolonization, environmental studies and sustainable development discourses.She is particularly interested in thinking through and within alternative and subaltern ecological frameworks of planetary health and her research compares the narratives, representations, and practices of environmental and sustainability education across indigenous, religious and Western-scientific discursive spaces inGhana. Her work seeks to address how these different frameworks conceptualize human-environment interdependencies, socio-environmental change and responsibilization, with a focus on their capacities to capture the broad public imagination and influence public policy.Her goal is to deepen the understanding of environmental and sustainability education and create opportunities for new and powerful educational approaches to realizing sustainable human and planetary well-being.

Aida Arosoaie

College of Letters and Science

Advisor: Maria Lepowsky, professor, Department of Anthropology

Maria Lepowsky

Arosoaie is a doctoral student in Cultural Anthropology and a graduate affiliate with the Center of Culture, History and the Environment, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. Arosaie’s research explores the process of relocation and resettlement of forest-dwelling communities in Southeast Asia in the context of deforestation and expansion of monocrop industrial plantations, employing a decolonial lens to focus on the intersection between extractive capitalism, environmental change and religion. Arosaie is particularly interested in investigating the interplay between processes of social re-inscription and materialities of the capitalist world-space. She aims to understand how capitalist zones of exclusion and disease rework and reorient corporealities, experiences of embodiment and sensory orientations, articulating personhood within a context of precarity.

Daniel Hayden

College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

Advisor: Richard Lankau, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Plant Pathology

Richard Lankua

Hayden is a first year doctoral student in the department of plant pathology. He a B.S. in plant biology while developing interests in Indigenous food sovereignty. Hayden’s current project is attempting to link soil microbial diversity to plant diversity and productivity in diverse cropping systems. Specifically, he studies heirloom and landrace maize varieties preserved and cultivated by Indigenous peoples. He works with the Oneida agricultural co-op, Ohelaku, Menominee Nation College, and local Indigenous growers. Hayden is an enrolled citizen of the Comanche Nation and values utilizing the traditional knowledge of Indigenous people to understand scientific mechanisms and drive the research from an Indigenous perspective.

Jules Reynolds

College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

Advisor: Michael Bell, Ph.D., Chair and Professor, Department of Community and Environmental Sociology

Michael Bell

Reynold is a doctoral student in Geography and Environment and Resources. She also holds a M.S. in Agroecology fromUW-Madison. As a political agroecologist, she researches the politics of climate change within the context of small-scale agriculture, and how these politics affect the health of farmers, agricultural systems and communities. She is particularly interested in how transformative agroecology can affect political, social and ecological change for our planetary health.

Ben Iuliano

College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

Advisor: Claudio Gratton, Ph.D., Professor of Entomology

Claudio Gratton

Iuliano is a doctoral student in the Department of Integrative Biology and a masters student in the Agroecology program, researching how we can make agricultural landscapes healthier for people and the rest of nature. His interests lie at the intersection of insect conservation, sustainable agriculture, and political ecology. He studies biological pest control by lady beetles in Southern Wisconsin, seeking to understand the spatial and temporal dynamics of this important ecosystem service.

Lisa Charron

Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies

Advisor: James LaGro, Ph.D., MLA, Professor of Planning and Landscape Architecture/ Environmental Studies

James LaGro

Charron is a doctoral candidate in the Environment and Resources program in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. Her research focuses on incorporating healthy eating and active living strategies in urban and regional planning policies. She earned her master’s degrees in Urban and Regional Planning and Public Health at the UW-Madison.She has served as a project assistant in the UW Population Health Institute and continues to work with the unit evaluating a variety of action research projects to incorporate health equity into local policymaking. She earned her undergraduate degree at Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland.

Jessica LeClair

School of Nursing

Advisor: Susan Zahner, DrPH, R.N., FAAN

Susan Zahner

LeClair is a doctoral student and clinical faculty member with the UW-Madison School of Nursing, where she is integrating the concepts of planetary health and climate justice into undergraduate and graduate courses. She also holds an affiliate appointment with the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. LeClair co-chairs the Sustainable Madison Committee for the City of Madison.She has also served as co-chair for the Wisconsin Public Health Association’s Climate and Health Section and was a co-chair of the Global Nurses Climate Change Committee for the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments. LeClair previously worked as a public health nurse for Public Health Madison and Dane County, and as a community health nurse for the Ho-Chunk Nation. She has a B.A.from Oberlin College, a BSN from the UW-Madison, and an MPH from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Her research interest explores nursing strategies that promote environmental justice in the context of planetary health.

Sila Temizel Sekeryan

College of Engineering

Advisor: Andrea Hicks, Ph.D., assistant professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering

Andrea Hicks

Temizel Sekeryan is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering with a minor in Sustainability. She also works as a research assistant in theSustainability and Emerging Technology Research Group led by Andrea Hicks. Her research focuses on exploring the environmental and human health impacts of engineered nanomaterials and finding ways to mitigate the impacts associated with their lifecycles. She uses life cycle assessment methodology and systems thinking approach while assessing the environmental performances of products. She is also working on developing a methodology to evaluate human health impacts of engineered nanomaterials under mesocosm conditions.She is particularly interested in combining non-nanoscale(i.e. indirect)and nano-specific(i.e. direct)emissions resulting from each lifecycle stage to evaluate environmental and human health performances of these novel materials.

Martin Ventura

College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

Advisor: Susan Paskewitz, professor and chair, Department of Entomology; director, Midwest Center of Excellence for Vector Borne Disease

Susan Paskewitz

Ventura is an entomology student exploring biodiversity and efficiency in systems for raising insects for human food and animal feed. He is dedicated to broadening the scope and scale of insect agriculture worldwide as a contribution toward addressing the complex problem of food insecurity. The principal aim of his laboratory research is to formulate low-cost insect feeds derived from common crop residues such as maize, stover and straw that have been inoculated with edible fungus.

Ventura earned an undergraduate degree at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana.

Planetary Health Scholars Cohort: Spring 2020

Jessica LeClair

School of Nursing

Jessica LeClair with advisor Susan Zahner, DrPH, RNR, FAAN, associate dean for faculty affairs and Vilas Disinguished Achievement Professor

Watch LeClair’s Planetary Health flash talk here.

Susan Zahner

LeClair, BSN, MPH, is a doctoral student and clinical faculty member with the School of Nursing, where she is integrating the concepts of planetary health and environmental health into academic  courses. She  holds an affiliate appointment with the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. LeClair  has worked as a public health nurse for Public Health Madison and Dane County and as a community health nurse for the Ho-Chunk Nation. She co-chairs the Sustainable Madison Committee for the city and co-chairs the Global Nurses Climate Change Committee for the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments. Her research explores how to build the capacity of nurses to work in the context of planetary health with a focus on environmental justice.

Pearly Wong

College of Letters & Science

Pearly Wong with advisor Maria Lepowsky, Ph.D., professor, Anthropology

Watch Wong’s Planetary Health flash talk here.

Maria Lepowsky

Pearly Wong is a third year doctoral student in Cultural Anthropology and Environment and Resources. Her current research interest is in development, environment, sustainability and intersectionality, through a decolonizing lens. Wong’s dissertation examines changing discourses and practices of development and sustainability by community actors in Nepal in the context of rapid socio-ecological transformation, including climate change.

Wong is particularly interested in looking at development as experienced through the intersection of gender and caste in semi-rural Kathmandu Valley. She is also looks at how resources are mobilized with and for these discourses and practices. She will focus on how insights at her field site converge or diverge from the rhetoric of ‘sustainability’ prominent in the development field today.

Martin Ventura

College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

Martin Ventura with advisor Susan Paskewitz, Ph.D., M.A., chair, Entomology; director, Midwest Center of Excellence for Vector Borne Disease

Watch Ventura’s  Planetary Health flash talk here.

Susan Paskewitz

Ventura is a master’s student in Entomology exploring biodiversity and efficiency in systems for raising insects for human food and animal feed. He is a member of the Mission to Improve Global Health Through insects, MIGHTi,  research project. Ventura is dedicated to broadening the scope and scale of insect agriculture worldwide as a contribution toward addressing the complex problem of food insecurity. The principal aim of his laboratory research is to formulate low-cost insect feeds derived from common crop residues such as maize stover and straw that have been inoculated with edible fungus.

Jonathan Lala

College of Engineering

Jonathan Lala with advisor Paul Block, Ph.D., M.S., associate professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Watch Lala’s Planetary Health flash talk here.

Paul Block

Lala is a doctoral student in Civil Engineering. His research focuses on the intersection of climate, water and human development, particularly through the use of climate forecasts for informed management of water resources. Lala’s research has spanned three continents and ranges from natural disaster preparedness to agricultural planning and effective communication of risk. He plans to focus his Planetary Health Scholarship work  on using forecasts to ensure household food security and reduce poverty for agricultural stakeholders.

Ben Iuliano

Colleges of Letters & Science, Agricultural and Life Sciences

Ben Iuliano with advisor Claudio Gratton, Ph.D., professor, Entomology

Watch Iuliano’s Planetary Health flash talk here.

Claudio Gratton

Iuliano is a doctoral student in the Department of Integrative Biology and a master’s student in the Agroecology program, researching how to make agricultural landscapes healthier for people and the rest of nature. His interests lie at the intersection of insect conservation, sustainable agriculture and political ecology. He studies biological pest control by lady beetles in Southern Wisconsin, seeking to understand the spatial and temporal dynamics of this important ecosystem service.

Ramin Ghamkhar

College of Engineering

Ramin Ghamkhar with advisor Andrea Hicks, Ph.D., M.S., assistant professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering

Watch Ghamkhar’s Planetary Health flash talk here.

Andrea Hicks

Ghamkhar is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering with a minor in Sustainability. His work focuses on the food-energy-water nexus and sustainability of food production systems. He uses the Life Cycle Assessment approach to evaluate the environmental impacts of different food production processes such as aquaponics. He is also compiling economic analysis and mapping techniques to incorporate fiscal and spatial parameters in the quantitative sustainability evaluations.

decoration

Planetary Health News

A diver holds dead mussel shells.Global HealthMass freshwater mussel die-offs linked to new virusUntil now, no one has been able to pin down why the world’s wild, freshwater mussels—often unnoticed and underappreciated engineers of stream and river health—are facing massive, unexpected die-offs. In a paper published today (September …Read more…

A student wearing a white coat and face masks works in a laboratory on test kits.Global HealthUW–Madison establishes free, campus-wide COVID-19 testing to support campus reopeningThe Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene are coming together in support of University of Wisconsin–Madison efforts to provide free COVID-19 testing to the entire campus community. The goal is to identify infections, isolate and care for those who are sick, and limit the spread of the disease as campus moves forward with a modified re-opening plan.Read more…

COVID-19 Poster ProjectSeptember 30, 2020Mussel-bola’ Could Be Spreading. Maybe Now You’ll Pay AttentionSeptember 23, 2020UW-Madison temporarily moves classes online after spike in positive COVID testsSeptember 10, 2020UW-Madison reports more than 1,000 COVID-19 cases, as students told to ‘severely limit’ interactionsSeptember 9, 2020COVID questions: Dog part safety, antibody testingSeptember 8, 2020More news »