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Environmental Factor, June 2015

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Grantees Hricko, Froines, and Gottlieb honored, set to retire

By Eddy Ball

Fighting for life poster
Hurcko working with staff

Hricko, center, is shown working with staff from the Long Beach Alliance for Children with Asthma. (Photo courtesy of USC)

Ramazzini with Hricko

Froines, center, was honored in 2013 by election to the Collegium Ramazzini (see story). Joining him were Hricko, right, to whom he has been married since early in their careers, and fellow NIEHS grantee Philip Landrigan, M.D. (Photo courtesy of Omar Gavioli)

The East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice (EYCEJ) will recognize NIEHS grantees Andrea Hricko, John Froines, Ph.D., and Robert Gottlieb for their commitment to environmental justice and community engagement at a June 6 dinner and celebration in Los Angeles. All three are transitioning into retirement from academic careers.

Hricko is a professor of clinical preventive medicine at the University of Southern California (USC) Keck School of Medicine and the long-time director of the Community Outreach and Engagement Core of the NIEHS-funded Southern California Environmental Health Sciences Center, which is directed by Frank Gilliland, M.D., Ph.D. “Being honored by a community group that is our partner in translating research to policy and prevention is especially gratifying,” Hricko said.

Trained as a physical-organic chemist, Froines is a professor emeritus at the University of California, Los Angeles Fielding School of Public Health. He also leads the Exposure Science Research Core at the Southern California Environmental Health Sciences Center.

Gottlieb, who is a distinguished professor at Occidental College, is also a well-known author and advocate for environmental health. He led an NIEHS-funded environmental justice project 2003-2009 focused on access to healthy food options in Los Angeles neighborhoods.

The paths of these scholar-activists have crossed many times, including at the 2012 Heroes for Health Gala Dinner in Los Angeles, where Gottlieb presented awards to Hricko and Froines for lifetime achievement in environmental health, from Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles. (PSR).

Collaborating for community environmental health

Hricko, Froines, and Gottlieb have worked together with EYCEJ and other community groups on a variety of environmental justice issues since 2000, most notably the Trade, Health & Environment Impact Project. This community-academic partnership led to the formation of a nationwide network of groups working to reduce pollution in communities affected by the movement of goods into and out of ports and transfer facilities.

“Andrea has been at the forefront of community engagement and research translations for meaningful environmental public health impacts,” said Liam O’Fallon, coordinator of the NIEHS Partnerships for Environmental Public Health program. “It has been amazing to see the outcomes of her collaborative work on the goods movement. She has trained students, empowered community groups, and raised the awareness of her academic and governmental partners. I am going to miss working with her.”

Bringing it to the streets — putting science to work in communities

Through grass-roots organizing and building leadership skills, EYCEJ helps underrepresented communities get involved with policy makers and other agencies to promote environmental justice policies that protect the health of local, regional, and statewide residents.

As the organization said in its announcement, “After more than a decade of service as EYCEJ academic allies, we would like to celebrate the legacies of Andrea Hricko, John Froines, and Robert Gottlieb as they transition out of their academic institutional careers and into new projects.”

(Eddy Ball, Ph.D., is a contract writer for the NIEHS Office of Communications and Public Liaison.)

Career paths with twists and turns

The honorees all have interesting histories, but Hricko may have the most varied experience, which uniquely prepared her for her award-winning work in community engagement. Hricko will have directed the community outreach and engagement program at the NIEHS-funded center for more than 15 years, when she transitions from partial to full retirement in 2016.

Prior to joining the USC center in 2000, Hricko had worked for a public interest group; for the University of California, Berkeley in a worker safety program; as a news producer of health, environment, and investigative stories for KCBS-TV; and as deputy assistant secretary of labor for the Mine Safety and Health Administration in the Clinton administration. Along the way, she also produced several documentary films.

Hricko also brought her expertise to NIEHS, giving talks about her community-engaged research on health impacts of air pollution from port, rail, and road transportation in the Los Angeles area (see story), and serving a term on the NIEHS National Advisory Environmental Health Sciences Council from 2010 to 2014.

Hricko has published a number of studies and commentaries, including her most recent one — a 2012 news article in the NIEHS journal Environmental Health Perspectives, Progress and pollution: port cities prepare for the panama canal expansion.

Froines is known for both his contributions to environmental public health and his role in the 1960s anti-war and civil rights movements. He has received a number of honors for his groundbreaking research on air pollution and hazardous chemicals, his advocacy of public health and worker safety, and his public service at state, local, and national levels.

Gottlieb is the author and co-author of numerous books and other publications, including “Food Justice”; “Reinventing Los Angeles: Nature and Community in the Global City”; and “The Next Los Angeles: The Struggle for a Livable City.” A longtime environmental and social justice activist, Gottlieb has researched and participated in social movements for more than 50 years.

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