Morello-Frosch honored for commitment to public good with Chancellor’s Service Award

Associate Professor Rachel Morello-Frosch Ph.D. '97, M.P.H. '93, expert in environmental health and justice, has been honored with a 2012 Chancellor's Award for Public Service, in the area of Research in the Public Interest. She was selected for her high-level, rigorous research that contributes to the public good, her outstanding commitment to empowering underserved communities and building community partnerships, and her dedication to educating the next generation of scholars.

Morello-Frosch holds a joint appointment with the UC Berkeley School of Public Health and the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management. Her research examines race and class determinants of environmental health among diverse communities in the United States. A focus of her work is addressing the double jeopardy faced by communities of color and the poor who experience high exposures to environmental hazards and who are more vulnerable to the toxic effects of pollution due to poverty, malnutrition, discrimination, and underlying health conditions. In 2010, she received the Damu Smith Environmental Achievement Award from the Environment Section of the American Public Health Association.

For the Chancellor's Award, Morello-Frosch received 12 nominations from faculty members, students, and colleagues. Professor Kirk Smith wrote: “Over the last decade or so, Rachel has become one of a small handful of the top people in the country in research on environmental justice. In my opinion, there are none who match her energy, skill, and insight in researching the ways in which environmental risks affect disadvantaged populations in the United States.” He added, “I would say that much of the increasingly sophisticated national agenda on environmental justice in recent years has come from her work.”

M.P.H student Julia Varshavsky describes Morello-Frosch as “a beloved mentor to many.” She writes, “As an environmental health and justice leader, Dr. Morello-Frosch exemplifies science in action. Her style in bridging technical and translational methods serves as a unique model to others who uphold values for both scientific integrity and human rights.”

Colleagues praised Morello-Frosch's commitment to social justice and community-based participatory research. “Rachel Morello-Frosch research priorities accelerate the real policy solutions needed to reduce toxic exposure and improvements to community’s public health outcomes,” wrote Nile Malloy, director of programs at Communities for a Better Environment, who partnered with Morello-Frosch on cumulative impacts research and policy development. “Her work moves decision-makers to make real choices of equity for all. Grounded in environmental justice principles, her work catalyzes community based efforts and educates residents on data-driven efforts to make social change.”

The Chancellor's Awards for Public Service recognize students, staff, faculty, and community partnerships that embody UC Berkeley's proud tradition of public service and commitment to improving the local and global community. A reception honoring the award recipients will be held on April 30, 2012, from 3-5:30 p.m. in Sibley Auditorium on the UC Berkeley campus.

By Linda Anderberg