Collaborative Projects

Exploring the Use of a Low-Cost Photopaper Tool for Citizen Science Detection of Urban Gas Leaks
Sara Wyle and Kirk Jalbert

Urban gas leaks undermine progress towards climate change mitigation, and cost American consumers billions of dollars each year. However, the sensors available to detect gas leaks are both too costly and too inaccessible to be used regularly by grassroots climate justice activists. Atmospheric corrosion literature suggests that a low-cost photopaper tool developed to help communities living alongside oil and gas wells document Hydrogen Sulfide (H​2S​ ) pollution could also respond to the sulfur compounds present in commercial natural gas. The goal of this study is to explore both the scientific and social dimensions of using the photopaper tool to document urban gas leaks. We will investigate whether the photopaper’s silver halide gel will corrode and discolor when exposed to natural gas in a laboratory glove box, and when it is exposed to gas leaks just above and below the subsoil, in the field. Furthermore, using a Community-Based Participatory Research Design, we work with a community partner, Mothers Out Front in Worcester Ma to test the photopaper alongside industry-standard methane measurement devices that will provide actionable data for our partners. We will host workshops and community report back to develop the group’s citizen science capacity and analyze the advocacy benefits of engaging in grassroots gas leak detection.

Housing Policy as Public Health Policy: Building a Community-Engaged Impact Evaluation of Denver’s Sun Valley Public Housing Redevelopment Project
Katherine Dickinson and Kirk Jalbert

Housing is closely tied to multiple social and environmental determinants of health, which makes housing policy public health policy. The US the Housing and Urban Development agency (HUD) recently awarded Denver a Choice Neighborhoods Initiative (CNI) grant to redevelop its Sun Valley public housing complex.  The CNI program seeks to improve living conditions and health outcomes for vulnerable populations through integrated investments in housing, people, and neighborhoods. At a national level, this program has received over one billion dollars since its inception in 2011, yet rigorous impact evaluations have not been conducted on CNI or related programs. This proposal builds a research agenda aimed at investigating the long-term impacts of the Sun Valley redevelopment project on multiple social determinants of health and ultimate social and health endpoints.

A social network investigation of fisheries stakeholder organizations’ social media activity on the topic of sustainable fisheries in the Northeast United States.
Matt Cutler and Kirk Jalbert

A variety of stakeholder organizations across institutional boundaries are active in the promotion of sustainable fisheries and fisheries management, including academic, governmental, industry, and non-profit groups, and some of these organizations work collaboratively while others tend towards more adversarial relationships. While prior research has attempted to unpack the successes and shortcomings of particular cases in cooperative fisheries management between stakeholder groups, relatively few studies have systematically explored the networks of connections and discourse between and among fisheries stakeholder organizations. Moreover, little is known about whether and how these networks influence the direction of fisheries management or public attitudes in the interest of promoting sustainable fisheries. Using a social network analysis of social media behavior, this pilot study will investigate the extent to which and how fisheries stakeholder organizations (e.g., governmental, academic, non-profit, and industry organizations) interact on issues related to sustainable fisheries in Northeast U.S. commercial fisheries.

A pilot study of the feasibility of the use of ecological momentary assessment in studying the impact of green space on affect.
Greg Bratman and Colleen Reid

A growing body of literature documents the mental health benefits of exposure to nature. Much of this research has been observational, with some support from experimental work. Observational studies are open to the possibility of residual confounding, temporality concerns, or other potential problems regarding certainty with regards to causal mechanisms underlying nature contact and health. Although evidence from experimental studies lends support to the causal aspects of nature exposure on health, these paradigms typically involve situations in which participants are removed from their everyday experience, and few studies have measured real-time impacts of the environment. A study design that combines ecological momentary assessment with GPS capacity provides an opportunity for assessment of the impact of different types of typically-experienced urban environments (from green space to streets with trees to highly urban) on participants’ mental health. We propose a pilot study of 64 total participants in two different cities using EMA to assess the feasibility of the ForHealth app for future green space and health studies.