New NIEHS Center Members - 2020

Joan Casey, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Health Sciences and an environmental epidemiologist who focuses on environmental health, environmental justice, and sustainability. She uses electronic health records (EHRs), creative study design, and spatial statistics to study population health.  She holds a doctorate in Environmental Health Sciences (2014) from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and has completed two postdoctoral programs through the Robert Wood Johnson Health & Society Scholars Program at the University of California San Francisco and via a National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences K99 award at the University of California at Berkeley. 

In addition to her usage of EHRs in environmental epidemiologic research, Dr. Casey has also contributed to science by considering joint environmental and social risk factors for adverse birth outcomes. As an example, her and her colleagues found that air pollution exposure in utero was associated with adult economic mobility. By analyzing historical data, her team also found increased infant mortality and a reduced sex ratio after the 1783–1784 Icelandic Laki volcanic eruption. She has considered health effects of living near industrial food animal production and health, finding that increased odds of community-associated MRSA infection and skin and soft tissue infections among those in the highest quartile of exposure to swine operations and manure-applied crop fields. Her recent work has focused on the emergence of unconventional methods to extract natural gas, health improvements after coal-fired power plants move offline, and the increasing threat of wildfire exposures for the health of human populations. 

Dr. Casey is thrilled to join the NIEHS Center, a group of scientists committed first to environmental epidemiologic research, and second to the translation of this research into prevention. She looks forward to interacting with leaders in the three facility cores to improve study design and exposure assessment in her work. 

Lewis Ziska, PhD, Associate Professor of Environmental Health Sciences, is a Plant Physiologist who examines the nexus of climate change, carbon dioxide, plant biology and public health.  He holds a doctorate in Plant Physiology (1988) from University of California at Davis.

Dr. Ziska has published over 100 peer-reviewed research articles related to climate change and rising carbon dioxide that address: agriculture and food security; invasive species; and plant biology and public health. Some of which include “ Increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide: Anticipated negative effects on food quality” where Ziska and a colleague found that from 2015–2050, elevated CO2 could result in an additional 125.8 million disability-adjusted life-years globally, attributable to a greater burden of infectious diseases, diarrhea, and anemia. Dr. Ziska is also the Associate Editor of Global Food Security among many other accolades.  Dr. Ziska's work has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, CBS Nightly News, CBS' Sunday Morning, National Geographic, The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. His most recent book is: Agriculture, Climate Change and Food Security in the 21st Century: Our Daily Bread.

Dr. Ziska is deeply interested in exploring links between climate change and plant biology as they affect socio-economic status--from access to proper nutrition, to pesticide exposure, to greening  as a means to provide relief from excessive heat in urban areas.  He is delighted to be an associate member of the NIEHS Center and is looking forward to adding his own expertise to a superb group of dedicated scientists and activists. He hopes that he can make a worthwhile contribution and learn from NIEHS’ ongoing success in making a difference to regional communities.

Maya Deyssenroth, DrPH, recently joined the Department of Environmental Health Sciences as an Assistant Professor.  As a molecular epidemiologist, her research is continually motivated by a keen interest to facilitate early intervention through the identification of pre-clinical biomarkers of adverse health outcomes. Her research program utilizes biostatistical and bioinformatic tools to evaluate multi-pollutant exposures and high dimensional genomic profiles to elucidate signatures reflective of early life programming of health and disease.  She holds a doctorate in Environmental Health Sciences (2013) from Columbia University and has completed two postdoctoral programs at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in Molecular Epidemiology and Bioinformatics.

Dr. Deyssenroth started out her graduate career at MSPH evaluating DNA repair capacity as a marker of breast cancer susceptibility.  With an increasing appreciation for the early origins of health and disease, her focus has expanded to include evaluating placental epi/genetic markers as conveyors of intrauterine exposures on postnatal health effects.  These efforts span multiple birth cohorts and entail comprehensive epi/genomic profiling of the placenta, evaluation of these markers in the context of various environmental exposures, including trace metals and organic pollutants, and associations with birth outcomes, including neurobehavior and fetal growth.  More recent efforts have focused on integrating ‘omics scale genetic and complex pollutant data to derive gene-environment signatures.  These studies have culminated in a body of literature not only reaffirming known biomarkers but also elucidating novel placental pathways linking exposure-outcome relationships. 

Having previously trained as a graduate student with CEHNM P30 Center members Regina Santella and Mary Beth Terry, Dr. Deyssenroth is excited to return to the CEHNM community as a faculty member.  She looks forward to collaborating with fellow CEHNM investigators and leveraging the vast expertise and resources made available to support early career investigators.

Sign up for updates from our Center

Click on the button to subscribe