My name is Katie Bisson, and I am a rising senior at the University of Rochester interested in data-driven approaches to exploring environmental issues.
What is your summer research project?
This summer I have had the opportunity to work with Dr. Field to investigate the health impacts of fracking throughout the state of Pennsylvania using publicly available data. Guided by private results that have found a link between increases in cardiology hospital utilization and fracking, I have used free, public datasets on cardiac catheterizations and heart disease mortalities to see whether a relationship can be established.
What are the implications of your research?
The EPA under Scott Pruitt pushed to implement a “no secret science” rule that would eliminate reliance on non-public scientific data for creating EPA rules. This would take any health studies involving confidential patient information off the table for informing EPA policy. Most recently under Andrew Wheeler, the rule has been pushed back to the EPA’s long-term agenda. Even so, investigating the ability for publicly available data to confirm existing nonpublic research is a critical step in preparing for the potential implications for the environmental health community and the country as a whole.
What new skill have you gained through your research?
Through my research I have been able to further develop my skills using GIS and statistical software. Through lectures and field trips, the STEER program gave me exposure to many aspects of environmental health and science that will inform my future in the environmental community.