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Gwen Ottinger, PhD, Receives CAREER Award from NSF for Project on Air Monitoring and Environmental Justice

September 30, 2014

Gwen Ottinger, PhD

Gwen Ottinger, assistant professor of Science, Technology and Society, has been awarded a prestigious Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award for her project, "Environmental Justice and the Ethics of Science and Technology."

The study focuses on the efforts of community groups, non-profits, regulators, and oil companies to expand ambient air monitoring at refinery fencelines, asking: does the choice of monitoring technologies and/or the structure of collaboration among these groups affect the ethical claims that are made?  (For example, do non-profits move from asserting their right to clean air to asserting their right to know when they work more closely with industry scientists?)  

As part of the project, Ottinger will work with environmental justice (EJ) leaders and Drexel students to design and create new information systems that enable people living near refineries to interpret and use air quality data from new, state-of-the-art fenceline monitors.  The resulting technology will provide both a lasting resource for EJ communities and a further opportunity to study the effects of technology on ethical claims.  She will also develop a science and engineering course that immerses Drexel undergraduates in a community heavily burdened by pollution, so that they can see first-hand how choices made by technical experts affect the environmental conditions that minority and low-income communities experience.  

The activities funded by the CAREER award further Ottinger's overarching goal of fostering science and technology that help promote environmental justice.  

Read her project abstract »