For Rebecca Adler, the nexus of science and policy is where public health begins.
She first saw this relationship play out during her internship with the U.S. State Department’s Office of Science and Technology, where she prepared a report on the policy implications of nanotechnology.
In her senior year at the California Institute of Technology, Adler led a group project to design a water purification system for a Guatemalan village whose drinking supply had been contaminated by heavy metals. After graduation, as a Thomas J. Watson Fellow, she broadened the scope of her work by examining the history of mining and the impacts of mine closure on human health—research which took her to the United Kingdom, South Africa, Zambia, Ghana and India. Based on her work in South Africa, Adler made policy recommendations to the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research in Pretoria on assessing heavy metal exposure in water. “I now have a greater understanding of the importance of science in the formation of policy, pertaining not only to human health and the environment but to the management of natural resources,” Adler says.
To integrate and apply public health knowledge to serve as a liaison between the scientific and political communities
Foreign Affairs Officer, Climate Finance, U.S. Department of State