Exploring Feminine Science- Kelsie Herzer

There is an extensive and damaging nuclear legacy that exists in New Mexico with solutions being long overdue. As a native New Mexican and woman of color I am greatly concerned with the environmental and social justice issues that surround the nuclear legacy and believe in the importance of minority voices leading this research. For my Sustainability capstone project, I have volunteered as the lead student researcher on a project in the Civil and Environmental Engineering department as a part of the METALS superfund project. The goal of the research I am conducting is to ultimately provide a report for the Laguna Pueblo community in New Mexico. Agricultural crops, soils, and water has been collected in collaboration with the community in order to determine if toxic metals are absorbed and access the possible health impacts. Ingested uranium has been linked to chronic health issues, such as thyroid cancer. This is why it is crucial to understand what contaminants are present and engineer a plan for remediation. Remediation is the cleaning, or restoration of the environment to previous health. Remediation is contrary to the masculine science and progress that is practiced in our society today, which frames nature as a tool. Remediation looks to nature as a teacher and values worldly relationships. In this way remediation can be identified as a feminine form of science. 

I am also composing a pamphlet for the National History Museum about the basics of uranium, including its history, dangers, and how it can be cleaned/remediated. This pamphlet uses a base level of communication in order to make information about Uranium accessible to the community. This pamphlet in the future with also, hopefully, be translated into Spanish and native languages that are local to the area. This is a long-term project with work and impacts that will stretch far beyond one semesters time. 

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