Alumni Dissertations and Theses

 
 

Alumni Dissertations and Theses

Filter Dissertations and Theses By:

 
 
  • Chronic Exposure to Fine Particulate Matter and Heart Failure in New York City: A Methodological Exploration of Environmental Justice and Health

    Author:
    Andrew Maroko
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Earth & Environmental Sciences
    Advisor:
    Juliana Maantay
    Abstract:

    Increased exposure to air pollution has been connected with environmentally-linked diseases (increased morbidity), decreased lifespan (increased mortality), environmental injustices (inequitable distribution of pollution based on population characteristics), reduction of quality-of-life, and increased health care costs. The main goals of this work are to analyze and quantify the potential association between chronic fine particulate matter (PM2.5) exposure and heart failure hospitalization rates in New York City and to explore the possibility that specific populations (e.g. racial and ethnic minorities, less educated populations, lower income populations) suffer from increased chronic exposure to PM2.5 from local stationary sources when compared to other populations in the context of environmental justice. Fine particulate matter exposure in New York City was estimated using proximity analysis, air dispersion modeling, and land use regression modeling. The characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses of each technique were compared and contrasted. A number of statistical techniques were also employed to assess and quantify these associations (odds ratios, ordinary least squares regressions, spatial autoregressive models, and geographically weighted regressions). The utility and appropriateness of each of these statistical models were examined. The results of the analyses suggested the presence of environmental injustices, although the relationships appeared complex and non-linear. The environmental health analyses found a positive association between intra-urban chronic exposure to fine particulate matter and heart failure hospitalization rates when controlling for socio-demographics in New York City.

  • "WITH THE CLASS-CONSCIOUS WORKERS UNDER ONE ROOF": UNION HALLS AND LABOR TEMPLES IN AMERICAN WORKING-CLASS FORMATION, 1880-1970

    Author:
    Stephen McFarland
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Earth & Environmental Sciences
    Advisor:
    Ruth Wilson Gilmore
    Abstract:

    This dissertation is a historical geography of interior spaces created by labor unions and other working class organizations in the United States between 1880 and 1970. I argue that these spaces-- labor lyceums, labor temples, and union halls-- both reflected and shaped the character of the working class organizations that created them. Drawing on Neil Smith's theories of geographic scale, I spatialize Ira Katznelson's framework for understanding working class formation. I demonstrate that at their best, these labor spaces furthered working class formation at multiple scales, enabling collective action across lines of racial, ethnic, and gender difference, and bridging the division between organizing on the shop floor and organizing in residential neighborhoods. In periods of inclusive organizing along lines of social unionism, these spaces were bustling hubs of cultural, social, political, educational, and recreational activities with close ties to working class neighborhood life. The beginning chapters focus on the Brooklyn Labor Lyceum created by immigrant socialists in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood in 1882, and on the Labor Temples constructed by AFL-affiliated unions in San Francisco in the early 20th Century. The latter chapters examine the spaces created by CIO unions (in particular New York City's District 65, and Detroit's United Auto Workers) in the mid-twentieth century.

  • In Harm's Way: How Philadelphia's Urban Renewal Practices Steered Marginal People to Marginal Land.

    Author:
    Katera Moore
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Earth & Environmental Sciences
    Advisor:
    Kenneth Gould
    Abstract:

    The dumping of locally unwanted land uses (LULUs) on marginal communities has been well documented, however environmental justice scholars have rarely written about how marginal groups have come to occupy their landscapes, particularly when natural hazards lie beneath. This dissertation research focuses on a broad definition of the environment that includes the built, social, and physical. I am interested in extending Logan and Molotch's Growth Machine theory to consider how the political and economic elite guided the urban renewal process to place particular communities on particular landscapes, despite the presence of a flooding hazard. To understand this issue, I examined how this process occurred in Philadelphia from the 1950s to the 1970s by developing a historical narrative that considers how decision makers, policies, residential demographic characteristics, and land quality came together to create a renewed community. This study analyzes the residential development of three sections of Philadelphia, Eastwick (southwest), Mill Creek (west), and Chestnut Hill (northwest). The major goal of this research is to explain who is more vulnerable to the natural phenomenon of flooding and why by considering settlement patterns and terrain. Using the research question what social processes led to the distribution of flooding risk in post-industrial Philadelphia? to guide my work. More specifically, by considering social systems and power relations, I analyzed the spatial and environmental impacts of urban renewal in Philadelphia; developed a framework for analyzing the processes that produce places; and provided insight into authentic community participation around managing urban environmental concerns. In a relatively short time, cities will experience many of the environmental problems associated with climate change. As municipalities move towards sustainability, comprehensive emergency preparedness will need to be considered beyond standard best management practices. Providing citizens with meaningful involvement in land use decision-making is crucial to finding authentically sustainable solutions to environmental hazards. This work makes three important interdisciplinary contributions, all of which are linked to the racialization of space. I contribute to urban studies scholarship by demonstrating how the growth machine creates a cityscape stratified by race and class. Second, I contribute to environmental justice research by firmly highlighting flooding vulnerability as an environmental justice issue and documenting the histories of marginal people on marginal land. Finally, I make a sound contribution to critical race studies when considering the long-term implications of race and space as it relates to structural inequality and social reproduction. In this dissertation, I examine the case of how people outside of the political and economic elite are relegated to landscapes prone to flooding. Drawing upon data collected using several different methods, I analyze the morphology of these landscapes and how these residents become passive users of their place rather than active shapers equipped to mitigate the hazards underlying their communities.

  • Does Geography Matter? Neighborhood Effects on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder of NYC Public School Children after 9/11

    Author:
    George Musa
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Earth & Environmental Sciences
    Advisor:
    William Solecki
    Abstract:

    An epidemiological study was conducted six months after 9/11 under the auspices of the NYC Board of Education, to evaluate the impact of the World Trade Center attacks on children's mental health. A large representative sample of public school students in grades 4-12 (N=8,236) was screened for eight psychiatric disorders including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), as well as various types of exposures to the 9/11, health problems, family circumstances, etc. Analyses of these data have indicated that being a student at a Ground Zero Area (GZA) school was not a significant risk factor for developing PTSD. These findings were contradictory to existing literature on PTSD. In previous PTSD studies, distance was not measured in fine scale (i.e., X miles from traumatic event), instead, arbitrary distance categories were used (i.e., was in school, was at home, etc.). For this study, Euclidian distance from the students' home zip code to their GZA schools, transportation distance and travel time have been calculated to help understand this phenomenon. Additionally, neighborhood variables (including socio-economic status (SES), residential mobility, safety, quality, and location-based physical exposure measures), as well as school environment and performance, are used to observe their potential influence.

  • Temporal and Spatial Variability of Metal Distributions in Staten Island Marsh-Creek Systems: Does Connectivity to the Arthur Kill Impact Anthropogenic Enrichment, Sediment Quality and Toxicity Potential in NY/NJ HE Marsh Habitats?

    Author:
    Caitlyn Nichols
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Earth & Environmental Sciences
    Advisor:
    William Wallace
    Abstract:

    The Arthur Kill is a polluted urban waterway situated between Staten Island, New York and New Jersey. It is unknown if this tidal strait serves as a significant source of trace metals to Staten Island marsh habitats, via redistribution and exchange, and thereby contributing to the substantial metal contamination found in sediments within these areas. Although loadings into the Arthur Kill have declined in recent years, the combination of historic impacts, modern point and non-point sources, and low flushing rates make this waterbody a sink for pollutants. Contaminated sediments are susceptible to remobilization via tidal action and shipping/dredging activities. Consequently, this may transport metals bound to suspended particles to neighboring areas, with subsequent uptake and toxicity to resident biota. The primary goals of this dissertation research was to characterize spatial and temporal trends in sediment metal (Cd, Hg, Cu, and Zn) contamination in salt marshes adjoining the Arthur Kill; and examine the distribution and tidal transport of pollutants between the Arthur Kill and upland marsh habitats along the western shore of Staten Island, New York. Insight concerning temporal and spatial change within marsh habitats will aid in tracking success of current water quality initiatives targeting this severely impacted waterway. Research into the exchange of metals in polluted estuarine areas similar to this system is essential from a restoration standpoint and is a crucial step in gaining an overall understanding of metal transport and redistribution within this highly industrialized and ecologically important system.

  • The Interfaith Center: The Construction and Consequence of Interfaith Space

    Author:
    Cristina Notaro
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Earth & Environmental Sciences
    Advisor:
    Marianna Pavlovskaya
    Abstract:

    This project examines the social and cultural phenomenon of the interfaith center as an intentional response to religious diversity in the United States. The interfaith center is an effort of multiple religious and secular organizations and individuals with missions of social action, education, dialogue and relationship building. Centers are formed within the context of a local community, but include interactions on a regional, national or international scale and intersections into public, private, civic and religious spheres of influence. The interfaith center is a growing force in religious pluralism, playing a constructive role in the social and cultural processes of a community, the attitudes and perceptions of religious groups and the production of interfaith space. The interfaith center is producing physical and social space to act as a mechanism for social cohesion and a focal point for addressing social issues and building community relationships. This research is an examination of both the construction and the consequence of this place.

  • The Interfaith Center: The Construction and Consequence of Interfaith Space

    Author:
    Cristina Notaro
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Earth & Environmental Sciences
    Advisor:
    Marianna Pavlovskaya
    Abstract:

    This project examines the social and cultural phenomenon of the interfaith center as an intentional response to religious diversity in the United States. The interfaith center is an effort of multiple religious and secular organizations and individuals with missions of social action, education, dialogue and relationship building. Centers are formed within the context of a local community, but include interactions on a regional, national or international scale and intersections into public, private, civic and religious spheres of influence. The interfaith center is a growing force in religious pluralism, playing a constructive role in the social and cultural processes of a community, the attitudes and perceptions of religious groups and the production of interfaith space. The interfaith center is producing physical and social space to act as a mechanism for social cohesion and a focal point for addressing social issues and building community relationships. This research is an examination of both the construction and the consequence of this place.

  • The Environmental Justice Implications of New York State's and New York City's Brownfield Policies

    Author:
    Michael Porter
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Earth & Environmental Sciences
    Advisor:
    William Solecki
    Abstract:

    This dissertation assesses the environmental justice implications of New York State and New York City laws designed to encourage the cleanup and remediation of contaminated and vacant properties, also known as brownfields. To do so, the dissertation asks three questions. First, do brownfield policies promote the cleanup and redevelopment of contaminated sites in areas with predominantly poor and minority residents? Second, when brownfield development does occur in these neighborhoods, does it improve environmental conditions? And third, to what extent do brownfield policies offer residents, business owners, and others living, working, and playing near brownfield sites a voice in the remediation and development process? To answer these questions the dissertation uses a two-step, multi-scalar, and mixed-method approach. In the first step, the dissertation uses methods of randomization to describe the characteristics of populations and properties near sites enrolled in New York State's brownfield program at the scale of the city. In the second step, the dissertation investigates the impact of brownfield development in three case study neighborhoods -the Gowanus and East New York neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Melrose Commons in the Bronx. Through these analyses, the dissertation concludes that the environmental justice implications of New York State's and New York City's brownfield policies are uneven. While state and city policies may encourage development in areas with higher property values and a higher proportion of white and wealthy residents, for the most part, they have little impact in areas with predominantly poor and non-white residents. When brownfield development does occur in these neighborhoods, it tends to exacerbate existing environmental injustices. Although the clean-up and development of contaminated sites may protect human and ecological health within the site's boundaries, it often exacerbates environmental problems in the surrounding areas. City and state brownfield policies further exacerbates environmental injustices by providing few opportunities for nearby resident and business to influence remedial methods or future land uses. There are, however, exceptions to these findings. In neighborhoods with a history of community, comprehensive, and area-wide planning, brownfield policies are much closer to fulfilling the policies' stated ambition.

  • LONG-TERM WARMING AND THE SIZE AND PHENOLOGY OF LONG ISLAND SOUND PLANKTON

    Author:
    Edward Rice
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Earth & Environmental Sciences
    Advisor:
    Gillian Stewart
    Abstract:

    In coastal ecosystems with decades of eutrophication and other anthropogenic stressors, the impact of climate change on planktonic communities can be difficult to detect. A time-series of monthly surface water temperatures in the Central Basin of Long Island Sound (LIS) from the late 1940s until 2012 indicates a warming rate of 0.03°C per year, with recent summer temperatures increasing most consistently. During this warming trend, the proportion of chlorophyll produced by smaller phytoplankton and flagellates appears to be higher during warmer summer and fall months, enabling an increase in annual chlorophyll despite static nutrient levels. The phenology of phytoplankton and zooplankton abundance also appears to have shifted. Relative to the 1950s, winter and spring chlorophyll blooms are reduced, summer and fall zooplankton size has decreased, the proportion of small zooplankton has increased, and summer zooplankton abundance is reduced. These changes have occurred despite a lack of evidence for increasing gelatinous zooplankton abundance, which has been suggested as a causal mechanism for reduced summer copepod abundance and enhanced summer/fall phytoplankton abundance in other systems that have experienced long-term warming. These changes confirm general predictions for the direct impacts of climate change on aquatic communities, but also highlight the important of indirect impacts due to altered trophic dynamics.

  • Developing geochemical proxies for a high resolution hydroclimate record in Mono Lake basin

    Author:
    Rahul Sahajpal
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Earth & Environmental Sciences
    Advisor:
    Nicholas Hemming
    Abstract:

    Abstract Developing geochemical proxies for a high resolution hydroclimate record in Mono Lake basin. by Rahul Sahajpal Advisor: N. Gary Hemming Hydrological fluctuations of Mono Lake, a terminal closed-basin lake in the western Great Basin, are related to the regional climate fluctuations. These hydrological changes lead to variations in paleosalinity which may be recorded at a high resolution by the geochemical proxies in the lacustrine Wilson Creek Formation sediments of the Mono Lake basin. Authigenic minerals like calcite and Mg-smectite in the lacustrine sediments record the fluctuations in the lake level through the last glacial period. During the course of this research project, I have developed leachable Li (hosted by the Mg-smectite) and other leachable ions as geochemical proxies for paleosalinity (and thus paleohydrology) in the Wilson Creek sediments. I applied a multi-pronged approach, including measurements of leachable ions. I followed these results and tested my hypothesis for their behavior by construction of empirical evaporation and mixing models using Geochemist Workbench and PHREEQC. I used this strategy to demonstrate that the freshening of Mono Lake during the last glacial period could explain the variations. These investigations in the Mono Lake basin have shown that leachable Li along with leachable ions like Ca, Mg and Sr closely follow the documented lake level based on stratigraphic and geomorphic evidence. The empirical models used to predict the geochemical evolution of Mono Lake with hydrological variations allow the accurate prediction of the behavior of authigenic mineral phases like Mg- smectite and the calcite proxy record for the paleolake level changes.