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Katherine Wolf - Belmont County, Ohio

Barnesville, Ohio
Drilling rig next to a home in Belmont County, OH

Career goal:

To become a research scientist investigating racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in environmental pollutant exposures and associated health outcomes in the United States.

Internship outline:

I compiled a national dataset to analyze the demographics surrounding disposal wells for waste from unconventional oil and gas (UOG) development (colloquially known as hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”). While working with several national datasets, I also traveled to Belmont County, Ohio with Dr. Nicole Deziel and Dr. Elise Elliott to meet community members living in one of the most-drilled counties in the United States and to witness the effects of the twenty-first-century boom in UOG development firsthand.

Value of experience:

This internship allowed me to begin learning how to conduct independent public health research from one of the leading scholars of UOG development in the world, to hear a range of opinions and experiences from those most directly affected by it on a day-to-day basis, and to see its impacts on the land for myself.

Best moment/experience:

Meeting Jill Antares Hunkler, a resident of Barnesville, Ohio whose family has lived in Belmont County for generations, and listening to her detail the effects of UOG development on her life, the health of her community, and the landscape she loves.

Funding sources:

  • Climate Change and Health Initiative Summer Internship Award
  • Jan A. J. Stolwijk Fellowship in Environmental Epidemiology