UDaily Article On Local Community Research

A recent UDaily article features my ongoing interdisciplinary research in Southbridge, an historically African-American community in South Wilmington.  Read the UDaily article for information on our collaborative research efforts there, as well as information on how the residents of Southbridge are making big strides to improve the quality of life and environmental conditions in the area:


Cancer Clusters in Delaware?

Public health data, like data on cancer incidence in geographic areas, are instrumental when making claims about the impact of the environment on human health.  How does this data end up in the minds of the public?  One way is through the local newspaper.  Read my new article on how cancer incidence in Delaware census tracts became “cancer clusters” in our state’s flagship newspaper.

Cancer Clusters in the News Media

Ongoing Research in an Environmental Justice Community

I’m part of an interdisciplinary research team that is looking into the potential for sea level rise to have a disproportionate impact on local communities already burdened with environmental pollution.  The community of Southbridge, located in South Wilmington, is an historic, black, working-class community with a strong sense of community and resilience to the issues it faces.  Southbridge is especially vulnerable to the potential for sea level rise because of its brownfields and legacy pollution.  With sea level rise, there is the possibility that existing legacy pollutants in the soil could become mobile.  Currently, I am working with the community to determine their level of concern and awareness of sea level rise, flooding, and pollution in the area, as well as the community’s perceptions of the health effects of their local environmental burdens.  Here are a few photos from “Southbridge Weekend” in July 2014, a local community event that showcases the positivity, solidarity, and resilience of the community, and one that highlights the importance of addressing important flooding and environmental issues:

Crowdsource pictureSouthbridge flooding Mello picture of survey tent


For more information on the community of Southbridge, check out these sites:




The Social Movement to Increase Fast Food Wages

In addition to the alienating/dehumanizing aspects of working in the fast food industry, as noted by Marx, Weber, and Ritzer, low wages also prevent employees from fully realizing their human potential.  Here’s a look at the social movement to increase fast food workers’ wages:




Vaccines, Fist Bumps, & Coconut Water

I was recently interviewed by Richard Gordon, creator and host of Campus Voices at the University of Delaware, about my work on the rhetoric of anti-science.  Have a listen:


Many thanks to Richard for allowing me to come on the air a second time (!), and to his new intern Sarah for her hard work throughout the interview.

UPDATE: a recent, timely discussion of the controversy surrounding anti-vaccine rhetoric in the media:


UPDATE 2: more data on recent increases in preventable diseases among children:


Environment and Health

I am teaching a new course this fall 2014 semester called “Environment and Health” (SOCI 367-011).  Here’s a brief description:

“Couched in the sociological perspective of popular epidemiology, this course shows students how both traditional epidemiology and citizen-science alliances are at the forefront of environmental and health issues.”

Have you ever heard of a community fighting against a refinery’s pollution?  How about communities that are literally on top of toxic soil?  What sorts of things, scientific and otherwise, are happening in these communities to address these issues?  If community-level health social movements, citizen-science alliances, the social construction of health knowledge, and ethics of sociological research interest you, come join us!