COLBY COLLEGE Research SymposiumStudent Research Opportunities
 2005 Program

Research Symposium

Sixth Annual

Colby Undergraduate Research Symposium

Keynote Speaker

Dr. Sandra Steingraber

Ecologist and Author

Dr. Sandra Steingraber gave the keynote address for the symposium at 7:30pm on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 in Olin 1.

Contaminated Without Consent: A Human Rights Approach to Environmental Health

In the eyes of an ecologist, a mother's body is the first environment.  Sandra Steingraber will explore the ways in which toxic chemicals trespass into this environment--from insecticides in amniotic fluid to flame retardants in breast milk--and the various threat they pose to human development from fetal life through adolescence and old age.

Ecologist, author and cancer survivor, Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D. is an internationally recognized expert on the environmental links to cancer and reproductive health.  Dr. Steingraber received her doctorate in biology from the University of Michigan and master’s degree in English from Illinois State University. She is the author of Post-Diagnosis, a volume of poetry, and co-author of a book on ecology and human rights in Africa, The Spoils of Famine. She has taught biology at Columbia College, Chicago, held visiting fellowships at the University of Illinois, Radcliffe/Harvard, and Northeastern University, and served on President Clinton’s National Action Plan on Breast Cancer. Dr. Steingraber is currently a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York.

Dr. Steingraber's highly acclaimed book, Living Downstream: An Ecologist Looks at Cancer and the Environment presents cancer as a human rights issue. It was the first to bring together data on toxic releases with newly released data from U.S. cancer registries. Living Downstream won praise from international media, including The Washington Post, the Nation, The Chicago Tribune, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, The Lancet, and The London Times. In 1997, Steingraber was named a Ms. Magazine Woman of the Year. In 1998, she received from the Jenifer Altman Foundation the first annual Altman Award for "the inspiring and poetic use of science to elucidate the causes of cancer", and from the New England chapter of the American Medical Writers Association, the Will Solimene Award for "excellence in medical communication". In 1999, the Sierra Club heralded Steingraber as "the new Rachel Carson". And in 2001, Carson's own alma mater, Chatham College, selected Steingraber to receive its biennial Rachel Carson Leadership Award.

Continuing the investigation begun in Living Downstream, Dr. Steingraber's new work, Having Faith: An Ecologist’s Journey to Motherhood, explores the intimate ecology of motherhood. Both a memoir of her own pregnancy and an investigation of fetal toxicology, Having Faith reveals the alarming extent to which environmental hazards now threaten each crucial stage of infant development.

An enthusiastic and sought-after public speaker, Dr. Steingraber has keynoted conferences on human health and the environment throughout the United States and Canada and has been invited to lecture at many universities, medical schools, and teaching hospitals.  She is married to sculptor Jeff de Castro. They are proud parents of five-year-old Faith and two-year-old Elijah.