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Introducing the Center for Health & Environment: Education & Research

Oct. 6, 2021

I’m pleased to share that earlier this year, the Center for Health and Environment: Education and Research (CHEER) was officially recognized by The University of Texas at Austin as an organized research unit. CHEER, which originally launched as an initiative within Dell Med’s Department of Population Health, creates an important hub for environmental health at the university: The field is transdisciplinary by its very nature, and we’re excited to bring together collaborators from the Cockrell School of Engineering, College of Natural Sciences, Steve Hicks School of Social Work, College of Pharmacy and beyond to catalyze research examining the health consequences of environmental exposures. These exposures include cascading disasters we now routinely face such as hurricanes, severe storms and pandemics — and understanding how to mitigate and adapt to these events, which are often rooted in climate change, is essential to help build a more resilient and equitable society.

Crucially, health disparities are a key intersecting theme for our work. Environmental inequities are an important driver of these disparities, which disproportionately affect low-income and minority populations. Social sciences and population health are therefore integral to environmental health science, and are an important focus of the center.

How to Get Involved: CHEER Working Groups & More

To catalyze collaboration and grow the network of UT scholars working in environmental health science, this fall will see the launch of CHEER working groups. These groups will self-determine their own activities with administrative support from CHEER.

Working group participants will become CHEER affiliates and will be eligible for:

  • Guidance on access and processing of environmental data, including air pollution, neighborhood and housing data
  • Support to access Texas state emergency department and hospitalization data
  • Pilot funding (A call for proposals is planned for spring 2022, and CHEER working groups will be given extra consideration for funding.)
  • Selection of seminar series speaker
  • CHEER membership for external participants

Faculty interested in joining a working group are invited to indicate their interest online.

Additionally, CHEER publishes a quarterly newsletter and hosts a monthly seminar series with invited speakers. To sign up for updates, contact Susan Balcer Whaley.