May 5, 2022

Dr. Courtney Woods

Dr. Courtney Woods

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has selected Courtney Woods, PhD, associate professor of environmental sciences and engineering at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, to serve on the Social and Community Science subcommittee of the EPA Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC).

The BOSC is a federal advisory committee that provides advice and recommendations to the EPA’s Office of Research and Development on technical and management issues of its research programs. This new subcommittee will lend expertise in support of the agency’s commitment to supporting communities and community science. Woods is one of 22 members, and her membership is for a three-year term.

Woods has spent more than a decade working with communities that experience environmental racism through community-based participatory research. An environmental engineer with a background in toxicology, her applied research assesses the community risk of exposure to a range of environmental health issues, including landfills, petrochemical refineries, industrial animal agriculture facilities and natural disasters.

“It’s understanding what kinds of concerns and questions communities have related to chemical exposures and health impacts,” Woods explained of her research, “and then determining whether data demonstrates a compelling argument for those concerns, or whether there’s a need to collect new data in collaboration with communities to understand their issues.”

At the Gillings School, she co-leads Master of Public Health concentrations in environmental health solutions and health equity, social justice and human rights and co-teaches a course on environmental justice with the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network. She leads the Environmental Justice Action Research Clinic, which connects UNC students with N.C. residents facing urgent environmental health threats to provide them with technical assistance that can lead to policy change.

Woods is also a founding member of Earthseed Land Collective, an organization led by Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) that applies cooperative principles for sharing access to land, redefining the human-natural environment relationship and that works towards food sovereignty.

Read more about the subcommittee.

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