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Public Lab Research note


Seeking Technical Air Quality Fellow

by stevie , TravisLondon | October 19, 2021 18:17 19 Oct 18:17 | #27946 | #27946

Opening November, ASAP

Commitment Period: roughly 6-8hr/week November - June

Fellowship Stipend: $6,600USD in total over the commitment period.

Where: This fellowship is open to anyone and is remote; phone in team meetings will be held in CT and be grounded in community efforts in Louisiana. Candidates who are within driving distance of St. James Parish, Louisiana strongly encouraged to apply.

Requirements for the position: This fellowship will require remote work abilities, comfortable working across diverse stakeholder groups, and strong communication skills (verbal/written).

About Public Lab:

Join our newest fellowship team to bring about a healthier and more equitable world through community science, open technology, and the advancement of environmental justice. Public Lab supports, develops, and applies open-source tools to further environmental exploration and investigation. By democratizing inexpensive and accessible do-it-yourself techniques, Public Lab creates a collaborative network of knowledge bearers and practitioners who actively reimagine the human relationship with the environment.

About the Issue:

For years, the St. James Parish community in Louisiana, already struggling with extreme pollution, has been fighting to keep out new industry. The historically black, and now elder, community hosts no less than 11 industrial facilities spanning their mere 258 square miles These include refineries, a fertilizer plant, a steel company, an asphalt company, and several chemical companies. Formosa Plastics, is slated to be a new 2,500 acre project just one mile from an elementary school (Center for Biological Diversity). As a company, Formosa has been a historic bad actor. In its other facilities around the world, it has been the cause for the largest private citizen lawsuit under the US federal clean air and water laws, caused many community threatening and deadly explosions, been the source for major chemical releases, and created at least one major superfund site.

On August 18, 2021 the US Army Corps of Engineers announced it would “require a full “environmental impact statement” (EIS) for the massive petrochemical complex Formosa Plastics proposes to build in St. James. The decision is a major victory for opponents of the plant, who sued to block the project in January 2020, and convinced the Army Corps to suspend its permit” in fall of 2019 (Center for Biological Diversity). For this EIS, the company will be required to “provide a baseline for understanding the current environmental situation” and should also include air, water, historical and economic impacts of the project (AmericanBar.org).

The aim for this project is to regularly collect particulate matter and other air quality monitoring data to grow the body of evidence on the existing levels of pollution to show the pollution burden already borne by the St. James Parish community. We aim for this information to be used in the open comment period of the EIS with the Army Corps of Engineers, to educate and bring others into this work, and provide scientific evidence for why further pollution sources such as the Formosa Plastics, should not be developed in this community. For more about this issue read the Project Scope here and the post on Formosa around the world here.

About the Fellowship

The major components of this fellowship are to:

  • Support the fellowship team to develop a particulate matter air monitoring program for St. James parish community, and possible subsequent air monitoring tests.
  • Teach on air monitor setup, installation, and maintenance.
  • Provide technical support for collecting data.
  • Support the group’s data analysis and data communication needs.
  • Create understandable and readable materials for those interested in the project to understand the scientific aspects of this work.
  • Help draft, review and share public comment materials for the Environmental Impact Statement and any other open commenting opportunities that arise around this issue.

The workflow around this fellowship will include

  • Regularly meeting with the fellowship team (twice a month), working closely with the community on project goals.
  • Be available for technical and in the field support for monitors.
  • Independent work on data analysis and drafting project materials.
  • Share the materials for project documentation on the Public Lab website and other mutually identified media platforms.
  • Advise on mechanisms of support required for the Fellowship team.

The Fellow will have the opportunity to:

  • Learn methods used by community-led accountability groups who are working with unwanted land use issues.
  • Learn how to use PublicLab.org and regularly post documentation on the website detailing the progress of the project team’s experiences; working in public to foster a culture of resource sharing and share learning moments.
  • Connect with the Public Lab community remotely through the website. Join the Public Lab monthly and quarterly public events online to share your fellowship experiences and learn more about environmental concerns.

This role may be for you if you are:

  • Detail oriented: You have excellent attention to detail and documentation skills; An exceptional written and oral communicator: You have excellent interpersonal skills
  • Knowledgeable on air pollution, air monitoring techniques, data analysis and data communication.
  • Practiced at providing clarity around environmental science and air quality, and a good communicator with those who hold different expertises.
  • You’re a problem-solver who is often praised for your organization and ability to learn quickly and adaptively
  • Team-oriented: You work collaboratively with remote colleagues, to envision and promote positive change, and to be supportive of others. You bring integrity to all situations.
  • A collaborator: You've worked with people with different backgrounds, and from different fields and lived experiences; you're able to communicate on environmental science.
  • Tech savvy: You thrive working in a remote work environment and a commitment to use related communication platforms daily to interact with the team (Slack, Zoom, Google Drive etc); you are excited to learn new programs and share about technology and monitoring in the context of advocacy.
  • Self-directed: You work successfully with minimal supervision. You can organize work, set and meet your own.

To Apply

To submit your application, please complete the Air Quality Fellow Application form to tell us more about your experience, share your resume, and complete a writing sample. All instructions are within the application form.

If you have any questions, please reach out to stevie@publiclab.org and include Policy Fellow in your subject line. No phone calls, please.

This Fellowship will be hosted through Public Lab. Public Lab is committed to a diverse, multicultural work environment and we strive for our team members to reflect the lived experiences and diversity of our global community. We encourage people with different ability sets, people of color, and people of diverse sexual orientations, gender expressions, and identities to apply.


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@stevie has marked @travislondon as a co-author.

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