Paloma Beamer, PhD, a professor of environmental health sciences in the Department of Community, Environment and Policy at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, has been appointed to the Use of Emerging Science for Environmental Health Decisions standing committee at the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine. Her term on the committee runs through August 2025.
“As an exposure scientist and past president of the International Society of Exposure Science, this appointment provides validation of the importance of our field and an opportunity to use our discipline in advancing approaches to address these public health challenges,” said Dr. Beamer, who is also the director of the community engagement core at the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center. “This opportunity also allows me to bring my own unique perspective as a Chicana environmental engineer at the Zuckerman College of Public Health, and to elevate the voices and needs of the marginalized communities that I have worked with across the Southwest to the national discourse.”
The standing committee’s purpose is to examine, explore and consider issues on the use of new and emerging science for environmental health decisions. According to the National Academies website, the ESEHD standing committee will provide a public venue for communication among government, industry, environmental groups and the academic community about scientific advances in methods and approaches that can be used in the identification, quantification and control of environmental impacts on human health.
“This year I will be participating in a committee organizing a workshop around developing wearable technologies to advance understanding of human and environmental health,” Dr. Beamer said of her committee work. “An example of this emerging technology that would be of interest to this committee would be the WeHealth app developed in collaboration with the University of Arizona and used on campus for digital COVID contact tracing.”
“I’m so proud and pleased to learn that Dr. Beamer has been selected to serve on the Use of Emerging Science for Environmental Health Decisions standing committee at NASEM,” said Iman Hakim, MD, PhD, MPH, dean of the Zuckerman College of Public Health. “This is a testament to her outstanding environmental justice work with Indigenous and underserved communities all around Arizona. Paloma’s unique perspective and network of expertise will help direct emerging science to deliver real benefits to all communities.”
Dr. Beamer’s research focuses on understanding how individuals are exposed to environmental contaminants and the health risks of these exposures with a special focus on vulnerable and marginalized populations, including children, low-wage immigrant workers, Native Americans and U.S.-Mexico border region residents.
“The goal of my work is to develop more effective interventions and policies for reducing these exposures and working toward achieving environmental justice for these communities,” Dr. Beamer said. “Originally my motivation for this work came from being raised going back and forth between two countries, which allowed me from an early age to be aware of health disparities and injustices. Since coming to the University of Arizona, I have had the opportunity to learn from and work with so many other communities facing similar issues, which continues to motivate me and inspire me every day to continue this work.”
Dr. Beamer, who joined faculty in 2007, earned a doctorate in environmental engineering from Stanford University. She holds faculty appointments in the Zuckerman College of Public Health and the UArizona College of Engineering and is a member of the BIO5 Institute.
“I came to the University of Arizona immediately after completing my PhD in engineering, and switching to health sciences was a whole new world for me,” Dr. Beamer said. “Many colleagues in the College of Public Health, in addition to bringing me into their networks, provided me with mentorship and support as well as teaching me how to listen and engage communities in my research working toward health equity in line with our college mission. I would not have had the opportunity to engage in these national and international discourses without this broad support from across the Health Sciences.”
Dr. Beamer received a Mentored Quantitative Research Award from the National Institutes of Health and a Scientific Technological Achievement Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. She has served on the board of scientific counselors for both the EPA and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. She currently is an associate editor for Environmental Health Perspectives, a monthly journal of the NIH. Dr. Beamer is past president of the International Society of Exposure Science, and a lifetime member of the Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers and the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science.