Paloma Beamer is an associate professor of environmental health sciences at the University of Arizona and was recently named president-elect of the International Society of Exposure Science. She is also an environmental engineer by training and received her Bachelor of Science from the University of California-Berkeley and her Master of Science and Ph.D. from Stanford University. She will become the president of the International Society of Exposure Science Jan. 1.
Daily Wildcat: How did you first become interested in your field?
Paloma Beamer: I got interested as a child because I used to go back and forth between my grandmother’s house in Mexico and my parent’s house in the U.S. I saw a lot of difference in environmental contamination. And then, when I moved to Chile to study abroad, I got to see firsthand really bad pollution. I was exposed there. I was living in a city where there was very high air pollution. And because I was already going to school to be an environmental engineer, it got me really interested in trying to understand. As an environmental engineer, I was getting frustrated at understanding if the things that we were designing are actually inspecting the problem and if we had figured out how contaminants are getting sourced to the person and why certain people are exposed to higher levels versus others. So that got me more interested in actually trying to make out how people are so contaminated, so that we can design better interventions.
DW: What do you think made you an attractive candidate, and ultimately president, of the International Society of Exposure and Science?
PB: I think that people connected with my passion for the field. In the overall field of environmental health, exposure science has traditionally been under-funded and under-acknowledged and the area that has the most uncertainty. When you look at research for environmental laws and policies, there is nothing. I think in my vision statement, I kind of address my desire to elevate that and also to increase the international membership.
DW: What do you think is your best work experience doing what you do?
PB: Well, I think part of what made running for the position worth it was actually the support I got from my students. They were super excited. I think that was ultimately what motivated me to run for the presidency, because it was about bringing bigger recognition to our program here at the UA.
DW: What do you hope for in the future?
PB: My hope is that we will expand our international membership, particularly reaching developing countries. To continue advocating for increased funding for Exposure Science and make sure people know that it is important to understand how people are exposed.
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