In her role directing the Center’s Public Health & Sustainable Aquaculture Project, Jillian works to engage public health communities in research, communication, education, policy, and advocacy activities aiming to increase understanding of the public health implications of industrial aquaculture practices and to move toward more sustainable and responsible methods of production.
A native of Pennsylvania, Jillian began working at the Center in 2008 as a research assistant, after earning her MPH degree from the University of New Mexico. A recipient of four successive CLF doctoral fellowships, she received her PhD in Health Policy and Management from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in August 2012.
Jillian possesses an in-depth knowledge of the environmental and public health implications of industrial food animal production. She completed her doctoral dissertation on the effects of poultry production on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and the regulatory efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.
Jillian had been interested in how policies are used to address environmental public health impacts of animal agriculture for several years, and the idea for her dissertation research formed upon learning about efforts to limit nutrient pollution in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. “I started seeing articles in the news media about the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to clean up the bay and I knew that chicken manure was a large contributing factor to the pollution,” she says. “I also knew the corporations that control these animal production facilities wield a lot of political power and significantly reducing pollution from industrial food animal production would not be easy.”
Jillian says she wanted to study the policy development process while it was happening in order to see if stakeholders were discussing the public health impacts. “I wanted to see not only if they were communicating the health impacts—which I found they were not—but also how animal agriculture was being regulated in the State of Maryland.” What she found was not promising. “The proposals were not very effective in regulating animal agriculture, relying mostly on voluntary action and taxpayer funded conservation activities that do not result in lasting change in food production methods.”
Jillian believes the same scrutiny that has focused on industrial food animal production for terrestrial animals needs to be applied to aquaculture. “There are many parallels between the two. Whether animals are kept on land or in the water, when you produce large numbers of animals in a concentrated area, there will likely be an issue with too much waste and where it goes,” she says. “My goal is to encourage more professionals in the public health community to get involved in researching aquaculture production, its effects on the environment and health, and advocating for appropriate policy change.”
Jillian Fry, PhD, MPH
Public Health & Sustainable Aquaculture Project
"I’m interested in all the externalities involved in the way in which we produce food–externalities that must be considered when critical decisions are made—by government, producers, and consumers. To pave the way for a truly livable future, we must make sure all aspects of our complex food system are taken into account—not just product and profit."
Read my Livable Future blog posts