I graduated from Harvard University with a BA in Hispanic Studies in 1978, followed by a MSc in the History of Science at Imperial College, London University in 1979.
I studied Occupational and Environmental Health in the context of a post graduate MD MPH at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Public Health School graduating in 1984 with a National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Fellowship; and after a Post Doc in Occupational and Environmental Health at Yale Medical School as a Dana Fellow, I obtained my PhD in Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology from Yale in 1997, while also an Assistant Professor at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
While at the University of Miami, with a Joint Appointment in both the Medical School and the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, I became the Co Director of the NSF-NIEHS funded Oceans and Human Health Centre, as well as running a NIOSH NIH funded Research Group in Healthy Worker Surveillance and Occupational inequalities and serving as Director and Medical Director of the Florida Cancer Data System (FCDS), Florida’s incident cancer registry.
I left the University of Miami as Emerita Professor in both the Medical and Marine Schools in 2011, and came to start the European Centre for Environment and Human Health with several colleagues (including Professor Michael Depledge and Ms Emma Bland) originally in the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry, later the University of Exeter Medical School. I am currently a Professor, Chair of Oceans and Epidemiology, and Director of the European Centre of Environment and Human Health (www.ecehh.org).
I have received international recognition and funding for my research and promotion of the new Metadiscipline of Oceans and Human Health including the International Oceanographic Commission (IOC) Bruun Award Oceans and Human Health (OHH) (2015) and the Edouard Delcroix International OHH Award (2014). I have served on many grant review panels for NIH, the UK Research Councils and the EU FP7/Horizon 2020 Programme and I was a Member of Horizons 2020 Health, Demographic Change and Wellbeing Advisory Board (2014-2015) and currently a Member of the NERC Science Board (2016-present). I am a HEA/ASPIRE Principal Fellow (2014) and I was the CoChair of the University of Exeter Athena SWAN Working Group (Silver Award 2014).
The major scientific highlights have been working collaboratively and inter-disciplinarily and with multiple partners in environment and human health research and training, in particular in the area of Oceans and Human Health.
Particular highlights in occupational health have included some of the first research around occupational inequalities and the importance of worker and their family health and wellbeing; while in environment and human health, exploring exposures and health effects from harmful algal blooms and microbial pollution, establishing the importance of “big data” issues in environment and human health, and now investigating the potential benefits to human health and wellbeing of interactions with the natural environment, particularly “blue” environments.
I also hope to involve other researchers at all levels, within and outside of the University of Exeter and beyond (nationally and internationally), in interdisciplinary collaborations in the cultures and environments of human health.
In addition to setting up the processes and “conditions for changes” for others to push the boundaries of “cultures and environments of health,” I hope to explore collaborations between researchers, communities and other stakeholders around how the health of humans is dependent upon the health of the environment within the context of climate and other environmental change; and how to involve communities and other stakeholders in the challenges and opportunities for the uses and abuses of big data.
My daughter, Dr Alejandra C Ortiz, is a coastal engineer and geologist, and my daughter-in-law, Ms Lynn M. Geiger, is a planetary geologist.
They and their generation are our legacy; we owe it to them to leave the earth not worse, but better off than when we came!