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Research Area Reviews Archive

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Watch recordings and see shared resources from Public Lab’s past research area review events here


2021 Research Area Reviews

June 30, 2021: Mapping for organizing & advocacy research area review

We wrapped up our most recent collaborative topic review with a whole bunch of events on mapping for community organizing and advocacy! Here’s a summary of the new and updated resources for this topic on Public Lab.

Presentation on research area review work

We started the day by presenting the highlight reel from the last three months of collective work and conversations on this topic. There are new getting-started activities on using maps for advocacy, examples of how maps can be used—for storytelling, understanding a place, as evidence—and more general resources on methods for community organizing and advocacy. Following the presentation, @julia_e_masters facilitated an open discussion where people on the call shared how they’re using mapping in their place-based research and advocacy on environmental health issues.



Resources shared on the call:


Live build

And then! @a1ahna from the Kits Team led us through a live build of a camera mount for balloon mapping! 📷 🎈We learned about the history of balloon mapping kits at Public Lab, the materials needed for a camera rig and how to build one, and Alahna’s balloon mapping tips and tricks. You can find balloon mapping kits in the Public Lab store here! Here’s a recording of the live build:



Resources shared during the live build:


Guest speakers

Community members working on mapping projects joined us for a guest speaker panel. This session brought together people from incredible, expansive projects that could have each presented in a dedicated event, so we chose to switch up the usual presentation format and instead do rounds of answering a series of prompts enabling us to see across projects. Visit the summary of this session to learn more about each panelist and the questions they answered.

Spanish language panel:


English language panel:



March 31, 2021: Soil contamination research area review

Our latest quarterly deep dive into research areas on Public Lab wrapped up with two public events on community science and soil contamination, attended by folx all over the world.

First, we shared highlights from our research area review on soil contamination, including activities to get started with investigating your soil, an overview of methods for testing and remediating polluted soil, and some next step challenges in tool development. People on the call also shared their questions, reflections, and local concerns on soil contamination.

A summary of the research area review on soil contamination is here, including some of the ongoing questions and challenges discussed on the call.


Resources shared:

Second! We had the great fortune to co-host a virtual tool demo with Jackie James (@jjcreedon) and Mike Rosenberg (@Mike_CSCR) of Citizen Science Community Resources, who showed us their Soil Sampling Toolkit. You can watch the recording and read a summary of the demo here.


2020 Research Area Reviews

December 16, 2020: Air quality research area review

Wrapping up Public Lab’s latest research area review on air quality, we held a virtual get-together on community air monitoring. We saw highlights of updated air quality resources on the Public Lab website, talked about local air monitoring projects across the US, and shared goals, questions, and tips with each other.

Joining us to share their ongoing projects and experiences in community air monitoring:

  • @MsSema and @mashalawais, responding to the ITC fire in the Houston, TX area, by developing lower-cost, real-time monitors and a mobile alert system for benzene and other emissions from petrochemical facilities.
  • Deborah Mills, Wendy Brawer, Veronica Olivotto, and Mary Jo Burke of LES Breathe: developing a community-run air monitoring, reporting, and remediation network in the Lower East Side of New York City.
  • Gustavo Aguirre Jr., Kern County Director at the Central California Environmental Justice Network, with experience in Bucket Brigades, driving changes in air quality policy in California, and engaging youth in air quality monitoring.
  • @eustatic of Healthy Gulf, focusing on particulate matter monitoring and interested in ways to prevent community burnout in the face of chronic issues, plus immediate remediation as part of FEMA responses.
  • @kgradow1, @jjcreedon, and Ethan McMahon of the US EPA, also joined the call to share questions and ideas.

Check out a summary of the research area review on air quality here, including highlights of some of the ongoing questions and challenges discussed on the call.



Resources shared:


September 23, 2020: Microplastics research area review

In this call that wrapped up Public Lab’s research area review on microplastics, twenty people spanning seven time zones gathered to talk about microplastics monitoring in their communities. We shared stories, asked and answered questions, saw a quick overview of accessible ways to get started in microplastics monitoring, and built connections with each other.

Joining us to share their experiences in microplastics research:

Check out this summary post of the event for more information on stories, questions, and topics that came up during the call, and this summary of the microplastics research area review that led up to it.


Resources shared: