Summer Research

Oxy Summer Research Program is sponsored by the Undergraduate Research Center

Summer 2014 - Robert W. Winter History of Art & Architecture Summer Research Fellowship

Summer reseearch fellow: Paige Dow '15, UEP major and Spanish minor
Faculty mentor: Professor Peter Dreier

The New Wyvernwood: Realizing the Implications of Redevelopment

Abstract
This research project involves a 1,187 unit, rent-controlled development in the neighborhood of Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, and impending plans for its redevelopment.  The development, called Wyvernwood Garden Apartments, was built in 1939 and represents a historically and architecturally significant community as part of the Garden City Movement that promotes green space and pedestrian life.  This paper discusses the historical significance of the development, arguments in favor of the development, arguments in opposition of the development, the history of the developer, and the stakeholders in the project.  It also provides recommendations for further research and organizing. 


Summer 2013 - Richter Summer Research

Summer reseearch fellowLila Singer-Berk '14, UEP major and History minor
Faculty mentor: Professor Robert Gottlieb

Occidental Campus Greening: Research and Recommendations
Published August 2013

Abstract
In the green revolution, Institutions of Higher Education play a critical role in inspiring, educating and carrying out change. Increasing research supports the belief that universities must be leaders and catalysts of environmental change. In order to lead this movement, universities must model and promote sustainable practices. Where does Occidental College fit into the conversation around campus sustainability? What steps must the institution take to become a model of success?

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Summer 2012

Summer research fellow: Danielle Lyons '13, UEP major
Faculty mentor: Assistant Professor Bhavna Shamasunder

Packaging, Pesticides, Policy, and Parity: Community-Based Approaches to Reducing Chemical Exposures through Food, and the Effectiveness of Current Policy
Published August 2012

Abstract
Background:
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are synthetic chemicals that interfere with the endocrine (hormone) system. EDCs are ubiquitous in the U.S. population, and have been linked to neurological, developmental, and metabolic disorders, various cancers, damaging effects on both male and female reproductive systems, and higher incidences of birth defects. A major pathway for human exposure to EDCs is food—through both packaging materials and pesticides. There is emerging evidence that low-income communities, communities of color, and families with limited food security have higher exposures to these chemicals. This project seeks to better understand possibilities for community-level interventions to combat these exposures and potential solutions to decrease chemical exposures through food.

Methods: This research began with an extensive literature review of studies on four EDCs: bisphenol-A, phthalates, perfluorinated compounds, and pesticides. Additionally, it included background research on chemicals regulation and food policy. This project utilized a mixed-methods approach including document analysis and semi-structured interviews with community experts on food policy, chemicals policy, or reproductive health; and participant research in community meetings and advocacy trainings around food justice.

Results: This research identified several suggestions for community-level interventions for the problem of EDCs in food. Among these are policy recommendations, advocacy programs, intervention in school lunches, physician involvement, and WIC and SNAP (CalFresh) programs as a means for limiting exposures through education and outreach. Community interviews revealed that many organizations are doing work on important related issues (hunger, nutrition, health) as a primary need, while rarely focusing on food quality. While the importance of other food issues has put intervention on the relatively new problem of EDCs on a back burner, many advocates expressed their interest in and the importance of learning more about and building partnerships around this work.

Conclusion: Literature reviews, community interviews, and participant observation all suggest that there are opportunities for new policy, advocacy, organizing, and education efforts around this problem by community organizations, policymakers, and public programs, as well as food, environmental and reproductive justice advocates. This research reveals possibilities in both research and advocacy to better bridge the food justice movement with the environmental health and justice movements.

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