Chair Chatter

November 3, 2023 

Happy November EH! I hope you all had a fun and safe Halloween this week. Our department-wide party on the 13th floor was a spooky success. Thank you to everyone who attended and contributed – it was so nice connecting over candy and costumes! 

🌟 In the Spotlight: 

This week, I would like to highlight the Department Retreat held on Monday at Simmons College, which proved to be a huge success. We had a great turnout with attendees representing every role in our Department. I want to express my deep thanks to everyone who was involved in making the retreat such an enriching experience.  

I extend my thanks to Dr. Jeffrey Drazen and Dr. David Jones for their valuable time and inspiring talks that offered reflections on the impact and potential of our research. I’d also like to acknowledge our Strategic Planning Committees for presenting thoughtful and comprehensive goals and metrics aimed at enhancing our department in various aspects. 

Thank you to all the faculty that submitted posters that were hung around the room and showcased the wide range of research happening in our department. Thank you to all our attendees for actively engaging in the exercises, contributing meaningful feedback, and strengthening our EH community.  Gillian Simkiss was our facilitator and did a great job in helping us organize a productive and interactive retreat. Thank you to Bianca Quinones, Jen Razo, Halimat Olunlade, Kaitlin Breen, Shaun Heller, Matt Dwyer, Ann McHugh, Rose West, Jenna Feugill, Cori Chisholm, Barbara Zuckerman, and Francine Laden for the incredible work in planning, preparing, and executing an outstanding Department retreat. And I am already looking forward to next year’s! Below are some photo highlights from Monday’s retreat.  

Department-wide group photo. 

Department-wide group photo. 

PHS PhD candidate Marshae Nickelberry and Postdoctoral Research Fellow Katie Tomsho presenting the EH Education Strategic Plan Committee goals

PHS PhD candidate Marshae Nickelberry and Postdoctoral Research Fellow Katie Tomsho presenting the EH Education Strategic Plan Committee goals  

EH Faculty and Staff participating in a networking activity called Speed Connect 

EH Faculty and Staff participating in a networking activity called Speed Connect 

📚 Department Updates: 

Next weekend there is an Ideas in Action Planetary Stewardship Summit. This summit, a pioneering three-day event, aims to unite decision-makers, domain experts, investors, influencers, and creative thinkers to explore and amplify innovative ideas that can make a positive difference to our planet. Speakers include luminaries like Hans Zimmer and Sylvia Earle; this summit promises to be a platform for insightful discussions and collaborations. You can register here. 

📰 In the News:

  • Healthier Buildings in 60 Minutes: I’m excited to revisit a topic we discussed last week. As you may recall, we highlighted the upcoming appearance of our resident healthy buildings expert, Dr. Joseph Allen, on a CBS 60 Minutes episode titled “The Air We Breathe.” We anticipated his insights on the importance of indoor air quality, especially in the context of the pandemic. I’m delighted to share that the episode has aired, and it underscored the pivotal role of indoor air systems in curbing the spread of viruses. Dr. Allen’s expertise in aerosol research was prominently featured, and his insights on creating healthy indoor environments have proven central to our collective efforts to safeguard public health. You can read more about it here. 
  • Heating Up the Discourse: I am also pleased to draw your attention to a compelling op-ed co-authored by Dr. Caleb Dresser, C-CHANGE’s Director of Healthcare Solutions. Caleb highlights the pressing challenges that healthcare providers face in addressing the health impacts of extreme heat events, and his expertise adds a crucial voice to the discourse on how healthcare professionals require additional support and resources to effectively care for patients during such climate-related emergencies. I applaud his contributions to this critical discussion, shedding light on the urgent need for action in the face of climate change’s increasing impact on public health. You can read more here. 
  • Biracial Voices: In another exciting development, PhD student Marissa Chan was featured in an episode from Environmental Health News. The conversation delves into the experiences of biracial individuals in the realm of environmental justice. Marissa’s enlightening input enhances our comprehension of this crucial aspect, demonstrating the intersectionality of identity and environmental issues. It’s heartening to witness our department’s active participation in fostering inclusivity and a broader understanding of diversity within environmental health. Read more here. 
  • Taking the Lead on Clean Water: The EPA is taking essential steps to strengthen lead protections in drinking water, spurred by multiple crises, including the well-known Flint water crisis. Ronnie Levin, our resident lead expert, plays a pivotal role in shedding light on this pressing issue. Her expertise and involvement in this matter demonstrate our commitment to advancing public health and advocating for safer drinking water standards. Read more on AP News 

New Resources

  • Don’t miss the upcoming Open House with the Harvard Chan Communications team on Monday, November 6th from 12:30-2:30 PM in the Kresge Atrium! It’s a fantastic opportunity to meet the talented Comms staff and learn about the variety of services they offer. Specialists will be on hand to answer questions and discuss how they can support your work – whether it’s drafting press releases, placing op-eds, developing websites, training for media interviews, and more. Enjoy coffee and snacks while learning how they can amplify your research, events, and accomplishments.  

🖋️ Weekly Policy Snippets:  

  • Holiday Submission Deadlines: Similar to previous years, the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday and Winter Break will impact the submission deadlines to SPA, and we will need to ensure that we meet our Provost deadlines. As in past years, these deadlines are subject to change if Harvard extends any of the breaks. 


          • Thanksgiving – updated due to extra day off per Dean Kim 
          • Harvard Chan is closed Wednesday –  Friday, 11/22/23-11/24/23. Submissions due during this time are due to SPA no later than Thursday, November 9, 2023 by 10 AM. 
          • Winter Break 
          • Harvard Chan is open for a half day on Friday, 12/22/23 and closed Monday, 12/25/23 – Monday, 1/1/24. Submissions due from 12/22/23 -1/12/2024 are due to SPA no later than Monday, December 11, 2023 by 10 AM.   

Note: Dates will be adjusted if changes to Harvard closure dates are made. Please reach out to Cori Chisholm, ADF or your GM if you have any questions. 

  • Accounts Payable Transactions: EH Accounts Payable transactions are processed centrally by EH AP Team. This means that all invoices, reimbursements, travel transactions, honorariums, lecturer payments, EH Professional Development Awards for students and post docs, and any other accounts payable requests or questions should be sent to our AP Team. This can be done by sending your request to EH centralized inbox From here, EH AP Team will work directly with the Payee to have them set up in appropriate financial system and have their payment issued. Accounts payable transactions should not be routed to specific individuals as this creates risks that payment might not be processed timely and that the request might take time from multiple parties who are unable to process the request.  

💌 I Hear You: 

  • I’ve heard the request for an annual in-person department retreat with time to do strategic planning, and I’m happy to share that we were able to act on that feedback during our gathering on October 30th. Thank you to everyone who contributed ideas and time to shape the retreat’s success. I look forward to implementing initiatives in the months ahead to enhance our department based on what we heard from one another. 

🎓 Students Corner 

🍃 EJ Corner 

  • Interested in diving deeper into environmental justice concepts, methods, and communication? Check out two stellar courses offered right here in EH. These courses offer impactful learning opportunities to engage with leading experts and build critical skills for EJ research and practice. Whether you’re looking to expand your EJ knowledge base or enhance your communication abilities, these classes have something to offer. Consider registering for winter session! 
  • Environmental Justice: Concepts and Practice (EH525): introduces fundamental EJ principles and frameworks, mechanisms underlying environmental health disparities, methods for assessing disproportionate impacts, and effective community-based participatory research strategies. 
  • Environmental Health Literacy and Science Communication (EH286): provides tools to improve EJ communications, exploring risk communication, health literacy, numeracy, and more. 
  • We want to hear from you about what you would like to see EJSO do this year in this survey. In the meantime, here are some additional EJ events to attend throughout the month!  
  • This two-part event aims to create a space for an overview of the intersection between climate change and gender—emphasizing the need for a nuanced understanding of its impacts in Latin America & the Caribbean—and to share efforts on how addressing gender disparities can enhance climate resilience, mitigation, and adaptation efforts. 
  • Sanjay Seth is the Chief of Staff & Senior Advisor for Climate and Equity at U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Region 1. This event will include a one-hour Q&A with the speaker followed by a dinner reception. 

🔔 Reminders 

  • Don’t forget to get your flu shot! HUHS is offering flu vaccines on Nov 1st (10 AM-3 PM) and Nov 8th (12 PM-3 PM) at the New Research Building. Schedule your appointment on the HUHS Patient Portal. 
  • Registration for the Salata Institue Climate & Sustainability Expo closes Friday, November 17th 2023 

Please keep up the great work, and don’t hesitate to reach out if I can support your efforts in any way. As always, please see below for a full list of events, news, and announcements. Let us know if you have anything to share in the next Chatter! 

Enjoy your weekend, 


🗓️ Upcoming Events:   

Save the dates for these exciting events… 

Chair Open Office Hours   

Building 1, Room 1301, Mondays 1:00-2:00 PM 

Landmark Room 404, Thursdays 2:00-3:00 PM   

Tea Time  

Building 1, 13th Floor Kitchen Area, Wednesdays 2:00 – 3:00 PM 

Landmark 4 West, Thursdays 2:30 – 3:30 PM 

Chair Chatter Archive

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