The creativity, passion, and impact of young researchers is inspiring, and when applied to pressing, real-world problems like lead poisoning, these research characteristics take on an even more important and pressing tone. Dr. Franziska Landes has consistently demonstrated the drive to make real differences in communities, the creativity to develop new lead testing strategies and place them in the hands of the very communities that are burdened by lead contamination, and the scholarship to produce scientific products to share these innovations with the world.
Franziska uses citizen science and community-engaged research to identify and eradicate pollution in environments ranging from New York City backyards to mining villages in the Peruvian Andes. Achieving this scale of impact requires creative thinking about how to engage people in the discovery and research process and providing them with tools that they could use themselves in a practical way. It is also incredibly hard as a researcher to take the time to develop trust in the community and to develops tools that are user friendly, culturally appropriate, and understandable for the communities that need them. Franziska not only developed and validated low-cost, citizen-friendly testing kits for bioavailable lead in soils but also created a mobile-friendly database structure and autocapture system for demographics, observations, and lead data and in Spanish on top of all that!
Franziska is sharing the products of these efforts in several ways. She has followed the traditional publication route to share her technique development and implementation results. But perhaps as important, she worked with communities to develop locally appropriate research translation tools for communities and engaged actively with organizations in Peru to ensure sustainability of this program. She has also brought her passion to the AGU GeoHealth section, chairing the Early Career Committee and guest editing a special issue of the journal GeoHealth on community-engaged research and citizen science.
Overall, if I were asked to identify the type of scholar who should come out of the 21st century academy, it would be Franziska: scientifically diligent, passionate about using science to improve society, and engaging in the trenches on the important environmental health issues of the day. It is truly my honor to have been able to nominate Franziska for this award.
—Gabriel Filippelli, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis
I am greatly honored to be receiving this year’s Science for Solutions Award. I would like to thank Gabriel Filippelli for organizing this nomination and for his leadership in community-engaged research and geohealth. I also want to thank my doctoral adviser, Lex van Geen, for his support and continuous encouragement to think about real-world applications. Thank you also to Peter Schlosser for establishing this award and his continued dedication to identifying solutions based in the Earth sciences.
On a global scale, we face a growing urgency to find solutions to enable living sustainable and equitable lives. By engaging communities in the scientific process and by enabling people to pose questions, conduct environmental measurements, and identify answers on their own, we as a society can be better positioned to find the solutions we need now and in the future. My work is motivated by a desire to improve human and environmental health, and on a daily basis I am inspired by community members, parents, teachers, and students striving for these same goals.
I would also like to thank the AGU community for their support of early-career scientists and especially the AGU GeoHealth leadership team for creating a welcoming community that incorporates early-career members at all levels. I am continuously inspired by the work of these interdisciplinary researchers and practitioners, and I am excited to be a part of this community focused on the interactions between the health of people, ecosystems, and the environment.
—Franziska C. Landes, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, Palisades, N.Y.