Working together to serve our communities through science.
Together, we will learn about and practice rainwater harvesting to irrigate home and community gardens. Arizona community members have recognized the benefits of harvesting rainwater. However, there is a lack of information regarding the quality of harvested water and there are no monitoring programs. You will be collecting environmental samples from residential, school, and/or community gardens irrigated by harvested rainwater to monitor the quality of harvested rainwater, soil, and plants. By participating in Project Harvest, you will be trained in the scientific method and you will learn how to measure bacteria, organic, and inorganic contaminants in samples alongside our team of environmental scientists over a three-year period. Together, we will co-generate a dataset that will not only inform guidelines and recommendations for safe, harvested rainwater use on gardens, it will support communities to safely and sustainably produce their own foods.
Working together to serve our communities through design
A crucial part of training citizen scientists is visual communication. Including well-designed experiences and data visualizations not only accommodates various learning styles, but also conveys complex information to our end-users in a manner that can be quickly consumed and easily understood. Our aims are to include clear, impactful, and meaningful data visualizations. We are combining data and design in novel ways to help participants visualize their data in order to make more informed environmental decisions. An integral part of Project Harvest is to cross-pollinate environmental health science, data science, and design to then explore data report back strategies across various artistic media, such as: photography, videos, print design, hands-on activities, and interactive community gatherings. By maintaining open communication with participants, we hope to evaluate the ways in which people receive and understand their environmental quality information and how data visualization influences comprehension, knowledge, awareness, and efficacy.
Let's work together. Become a Citizen Scientist!
Learn about the health of the environment in which you live.
By participating, you will complete the following...
Step 1: Training
Be trained in how to collect harvested water, soil, and/or vegetable samples from your garden for environmental analysis (microbial, metals and organic compounds). Meet others in your community who are interested in environmental and food quality.
Starting in May 2017 through September 2017, training sessions will be held in your area - Stay tuned for specific dates
Step 2: Collect Samples and Conduct Home Experiments
You will be given a kit filled with all the tools needed to sample your harvested water, soil, and/or vegetable samples over time. You will work with traditional laboratory supplies and Do-It-Yourself (DIY) gear to monitor your environment!
Sample collection will begin in Winter 2017 and run through Winter 2020
Step 3: Testing and Discovering
Together, we will run tests to determine the concentration of potential contaminants in your environmental samples.
Between Winter 2017 - Winter 2020, sample testing will occur at the University of Arizona and in some cases, in your back yard with DIY kits.
Step 4: Communicating Results
Receive a report with your environmental results! Gather with community members and researchers to discuss results and if necessary, ways to reduce your exposure to pollutants.
Data Sharing will begin in 2020 through 2021
Home and community gardens irrigated by harvested rainwater will serve as hubs for environmental research and education. The overall objective of Project Harvest is to promote citizen science in underserved communities. The research goals of Project Harvest are to:
- Understand the fate and transport of potential pollutants in harvested water and how these possible pollutants might impact soil, plant and human health.
- Evaluate the learning outcomes of a citizen science and community-engaged approach to research.
Working alongside promotoras (community health workers) with low-cost sampling kits and using cultural model of risk and environmental communication, the project will:
- Co-produce environmental monitoring, exposure assessment, and risk data in a form that will be directly relevant to the participant's lives.
- Increase the community’s involvement in environmental decision-making.
- Improve environmental education and literacy in under served rural and urban communities.
To meet the above aims, we will:
- Build a co-created citizen science program coupled with a peer education model and data sharing process to increase Environmental literacy in historically underrepresented populations that will be disproportionately impacted by climate change.
- Implement a two-prong monitoring approach to determine whether there are differences in learning outcomes and sampling data.
- Evaluate the role of knowledge mediators (promotoras) and different types of data sharing and delivery of results.
- Build trust and bidirectional communication pathways with stakeholders to collaborate and ensure citizen science collected data directly informs water harvesting practices.
The kits will contain all the proper materials and an illustrated instructional manual on how and when to collect environmental samples. Stay tuned for sampling kits and instruction manuals. Environmental sampling methods will be different based on sample type (water, soil, and plants), monitoring approach, and the contaminants we are measuring.
Project Harvest communities and Demonstration Sites
Find your local Community Health Worker
Monica Ramirez-Andreotta is Director of Project Harvest and an assistant professor of Soil, Water and Environmental Science (SWES) with a joint appointment in the College of Public Health at the University of Arizona (UA). She is responsible for trainings, recruiting promotoras in the rural communities, and reporting data back to participants, as well as overseeing the analysis and interpretation of the inorganic data (water, soil and plants). She is trained across various fields and is a transdisciplinary researcher in the purest sense. She received a B.A. degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, a B.A. degree in Studio Art (Photography), and a master’s of Public Administration from Columbia University. Dr. Ramirez-Andreotta’s research programs include developing a fundamental understanding of the fate and transport of contaminants in the environment, with a primary focus on plant-soil systems. In parallel, she is building citizen science programs to increase public participation in environmental health research, developing low cost environmental monitoring tools to improve exposure estimates, and designing effective risk communication and data report-back strategies to improve environmental health literacy. She has independently secured funding from the National Science Foundation, US Environmental Protection Agency, Arizona Department of Health Services, City of Tucson, Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars, and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to conduct research while building community-academic partnerships. Dr. Ramirez-Andreotta’s philosophy is that in order to successfully engage communities and students, it is essential to address critical environmental health problems identified by the community, and then work collaboratively through the problem-solving and research process.
Leif Abrell (PhD, Organic Chemistry; BA, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology) has measured and detected organic chemicals in trace amounts from animals, plants, water, and other substances using mass spectrometry and other organic spectroscopies for over twenty years. He has studied how these chemicals interact in, and affect, ecosystems like the North American Sonoran Desert, Biosphere 2, the Amazonian tropical forest, and watersheds like the Colorado River and the local Santa Cruz River. He has also investigated chemical interactions amongst marine microorganism assemblies, mammalian ligand receptors, and in the interstellar media. Most recently he is developing methods for analysis of organic contaminants in matrices like breastmilk and different sources of water. He enjoys working with all kinds of students, especially in informal learning environments.
Rob Root, Research Assistant Professor, Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science, Rob oversees all inorganic contaminant analyses, trains students in inorganic laboratory techniques and examines project data quality control issues. Rob is a geochemist with research interests in molecular-scale mechanisms of biogeochemical cycling of trace metals and metalloids in the environment and mineral weathering reactions at the rock-water interface. He specializes in the use of synchrotron x-ray spectroscopic and microscopic techniques to determine metal(loid) speciation from field and laboratory studies of remediation and bioaccessibility.
Flor Morales has being working with the Sonora Environmental Research Institute (SERI) since 2009 when she started as a volunteer. In 2010 Morales was hired as an Environmental Health Promotora. She enjoys helping the community, and with SERI she feels that every day she is making a difference and creating a better community and a healthier environment for the future generations. Flor Morales is currently the Program Manager for the Rainwater Harvesting Program for low-income families and the Healthy Childcare Program. As the Program Manager for the Rainwater Harvesting Program, she teaches rainwater harvesting and tree care workshops, designs rainwater harvesting systems with the family’s input, coordinates installation and organizes staff and volunteers to install passive systems for low-income elderly. She has an Urban Forestry Certificate from the Tucson Botanical Gardens and was trained on the installation of rainwater harvesting passive systems by Ethos Rainwater Harvesting. Flor Morales has a B.S. Degree in Marketing from the University of Arizona that will provide valuable in designing and promoting a new rainwater harvesting loan program for low-income families. This project collaboration is between SERI and the University of Arizona. Ms. Morales represents SERI under this project.
Sanlyn Buxner, Assistant research professor in the department of Teaching, Learning, and Sociocultural Studies at the University of Arizona, has over 20 years of experience in science and outdoor education. Her research interests include examining issues related to scientific literacy; how to measure it and investigating how it is changed by education, outreach, and online media. Additionally she investigates how science research experiences can be used to improve both science understanding and empowerment of teachers and students. She works as an external evaluator for NASA, NSF, and NIH funded projects.
Aminata Kilungo holds a Ph.D. in Soil, Water and Environmental Science, and Microbiology from the University of Arizona. She is a lecturer in the College of Public Health at the University of Arizona. Her work focuses on working with underserved communities in the field of water security and safety to address waterborne and water related diseases in Sub-Saharan Africa, addressing environmental health issues, and finding sustainable solutions while engaging the targeted communities in the process. Some of her research work includes: development of technology to instantaneously detect microbial contamination in drinking water; chemical and microbial well water quality assessment and well designs comparison studies in rural Tanzania, and building community resilience in communities affected by cholera using Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) interventions in rural Tanzania. Some of her work in Arizona includes evaluation of environmental health status along the Arizona-Sonora Border region.
Jean McLain, Associate Director and Associate Research Scientist, Water Resources Research Center, Jean contributes to human resource management, including supervision of staff and leading committees for staff searches; additional duties include planning and execution of fundraising; long‐term strategic planning and reporting of metrics; and chairing committees for organizing the WRRC Annual Conferences and other events involving water management professionals, elected officials, and WRRC stakeholders. My research program is directed towards establishing impacts of anthropogenic stressors on microbiological presence and function in soil and water and identifying linkages between microbes in the natural environment and human health. Recent studies include examining the potential for trace contaminants in degraded irrigation water and biosolids to induce development of antibiotic resistance in bacteria; and performing molecular and cultural analyses of bacterial regrowth, survival, and transport in irrigation water and soils to establish links to fresh produce safety.
Shana Sandhaus, research specialist and laboratory manager, holds an MS in Environmental Science from the University of Arizona. Her previous work involved evaluating the changes in efficacy, knowledge, and motivations before and after participation in citizen science programs. Her work involved a mixed-methods approach, drawing from pre- and post-surveys, drawings, mind maps, group interviews, and one-on-one semi-structured interviews. Her research interests include understanding why people participate in citizen science programs, if there is an increase in efficacy and knowledge as a result of participation, and if participants believe they can make a positive impact on their environment as a result of the program. Shana works with the Project Harvest research team, students, and community health workers to make sure the project runs smoothly.
Victoria Obergh is a research specialist and laboratory manager. Victoria holds a M.S. in Soil, Water, and Environmental Science and a B.S. in Physiology from the University of Arizona. Her previous work included analyzing canal maintenance effects on irrigation water quality for fresh produce safety. Her current work, under the direction of Dr. McLain, include soil and water quality analyses, analyses of antibiotic resistance in bacteria in water sources, and molecular and cultural analyses of microbes in irrigation water and fresh produce safety. For Project Harvest Victoria works with soil samples to analyze for the presence of indicator bacteria and human pathogens.
Community Health Workers
Miriam Jones holds a BS in Economics from the Universidad Rafael Landívar in Guatemala. She has worked for different public institutions in the Globe area and is trained as an English-Spanish interpreter. She looks forward to engaging with organizations, families, and individuals interested in becoming Citizen Scientists through the Project Harvest in the Globe-Miami area.
Lisa Ochoa holds a BS in Elementary Education from the University of Arizona. She has worked for the Hayden-Winkelman School District for the past 25 years. She has always lived in the small mining community and has a curiosity about that the community’s environmental health. She looks forward to working with the community and the Project Harvest Team.
Margaret moved to Dewey-Humboldt in 2014, retiring from a 30 year career in public service and education in La Paz County. She received a BS in Criminal Justice from ASU. Since moving to Yavapai County she has become interested and involved in water harvesting, gardening and hobby farming. She welcomes the opportunity to engage with local Citizen Scientists in Project Harvest. (And the name...well, that's just coincidental...though you probably won't forget it!)
Palmira Henriquez has been working as a Sonora Environmental Research Institute (SERI) Promotora since 2008. She loves working with the community on environmental health issues. Currently, she is the Program Manager for their Home Visit Program and oversees their volunteer program and coordinates SERI’s Promotora Certificate Program. She has a Community Health Advisor Certificate from Pima Community College and a Business Administration and Accounting Certificate from the Instituto Tecnológico del Mar in Puerto Peñasco, Sonora, Mexico. Lastly, she also has an Urban Forestry Certificate from the Tucson Botanical Gardens and was trained on the installation of passive systems by Ethos Rainwater Harvesting.
Aviva O'Neil came to SERI after fifteen years of living and working in Zion National Park. While there she worked on various projects such as sustainability outreach, youth outreach and education, vegetation management and wildlife monitoring. She earned a Bachelor's in Environmental Studies from UC Santa Cruz and a Master's in Agriculture from Iowa State University. She has a passion for community engagement and environmental stewardship. She has also been an organic farmer and operated her own small farm business and CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) for 6 years.
Imelda Cortez has a Certificate of Business Administration from the Centro de Bachillerato Tecnológico Industrial y de servicios located in Cananea Sonora. She is also the recipient of a health counselor certificate and a childcare provider certificate; both provided by Pima Community College. She also obtained a Certification of Business from Eller College of The University of Arizona. I like the job at SERI because my passion is to help my community. Through this program I have the opportunity to provide information regarding health and a higher quality life style.
Dr. Theresa Foley is the Climate Science Specialist for SERI. She has a PhD in Atmospheric Science from the University of Arizona in Tucson, a BS in Chemistry from Northeastern Illinois, and a BS in Biology from De Paul University. Dr. Foley has extensive experience in the environmental field as a landfill specialist and atmospheric chemist, and she is also a geographic information systems (GIS) specialist. In 2008, Dr. Foley began working with SERI, when she was awarded a NASA Space Grant to study air pollution in south metropolitan Tucson. Last year Dr. Foley returned to SERI after a two year fellowship with the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, where she used GIS to verify the accuracy of weather forecasting.
Dorsey Kaufmann is an Information Designer pursuing her Masters of Fine Arts in Illustration and Design. Dorsey examines the most effective and purposeful means of data communication, evaluates the ways in which people receive and understand information about environmental quality and the potential exposure to contaminants near hazardous waste sites, and how design incites more informed citizens and behavioral changes. She is interested in the way art can work across disciplines, communicate information in a more experiential and community-integrated way, and build public participation and relationships. Dorsey designed the branding, website, promotional materials, and kit packaging for Project Harvest. She also plays a key role in the ideation and implementation of the project's data sharing events that include both traditional data-vis and non-traditional art installations to communicate participant sample data. Through more experimental forms of data sharing, she hopes build a dialogue around the many factors that impact environmental data-sets and how these factors directly affect people’s body, health, and environment. More of her work can be found on her website.
AJ Moses is a third year PhD student pursuing a degree in Soil and Water Sciences. For Project Harvest, he will work on testing water and soil samples for the presence of microbes, such as fecal coliforms. Arthur is interested in examining the prevalence of harmful bacteria in community harvested water and how those organisms will ultimately impact peoples' health through soil and plants. He completed his undergraduate work at the University of Maryland-College Park (UMD), earning a B.S in Geographical Sciences. His emphasis at UMD was in sustainability and development, and while there he worked on mapping and improving the roads and bike share lanes around campus.
Kunal Palawat (they/them) is pursuing a masters in soil and water science at the University of Arizona and analyzes heavy metal concentrations in Project Harvest samples. They have a background in soil/water science and community organizing from their time living in Vermont and are excited to blend their passions together in Arizona. Kunal is also passionate challenging the oppressive norms of western science through science communication, supporting queer and trans students of color, mentorship, and climate activism.
Norma Villagomez-Marquez is a Ph.D. student in Soil, Water and Environmental Science at the University of Arizona. She has a background in Environmental Engineering investigating the role of advanced membrane technologies like reverse osmosis (RO), nanofiltration (NF) and electrodialysis (ED) in water treatment, primarily desalination. Norma is the recipient of a 2018 Carson Haury Scholars Program Fellowship, given to excellent and diverse graduate students who are studying renewable energy, environment, and social justice. She was selected as a 2018 Singapore UNLEASH Innovation Lab Talent by the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Program to participate in the development of solutions for SDG # 6 Clean Water and Sanitation. Her doctoral research examines the presence of organic pollutants in harvested rainwater using analytical techniques, particularly liquid chromatography high-resolution mass spectrometry (LC-HRMS).
Ariane Solwell is pursuing her Master's Degree in Teaching and Teacher Education, with a focus on Environmental Learning. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Analysis from Scripps College. Prior to coming to the University of Arizona she worked as an environmental and outdoor educator as well as a classroom teacher. Most recently, while teaching science at Paulo Freire Freedom School, she and her students worked with Recharge the Rain, a NOAA, Project Wet, and WMG collaboration to better their climate literacy and increase local resilience via the installation of a rainwater harvesting cistern and art piece. Ariane is especially interested in youth engagement and empowerment and works on various youth climate justice efforts.
Cam Henson is pursuing a Master's degree in environmental science from The University of Arizona. Cam's research involves analyzing harvested rainwater for organic contaminants, specifically PFAS, using high performance liquid chromatography and high-resolution mass spectroscopy (HPLC-HRMS). Cam is interested in the fate and transport of PFAS in the environment and the effects these compounds have on human health. In his free time Cam enjoys grooming and shows dogs in confirmation.
Nikki Skelton is currently working on a second Bachelor's degree in Natural Resources and previously graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor's in Anthropology and a Master's in Development Practice. In the past, Nikki has partnered with a number of academic, non-profit and government agencies such as the UA's Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology, the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, the International Rescue Committee, and the Swaziland National Trust Commission to analyze issues such as food security, water quality, access to affordable housing, natural resource use, and poverty in both southern Arizona and abroad. By combining skills from both the social and physical sciences, Nikki hopes to further explore best practices for community-based projects that integrate environmental conservation and development objectives. She began working with Project Harvest in the fall of 2018.
Chelsea Mendoza is a first-year undergraduate student pursuing a BS in Environmental Science. She is an Arizona Science and Engineering Math Scholar, recognized in the ASEMS Newsletter for her early involvement in research labs. Upon completion of her first semester at The University of Arizona, Chelsea was placed on the Dean's List and continues to excel in her studies. In the lab, she tests community members' water samples for arsenic. Her interests lie in both social and environmental justice, drawing her to pursue a Juris Doctor Law Degree in Environmental Law.