What We Do

The Community Engagement Core (CEC) builds scientific capacity in Tribal communities, and cultural capacity within the research community. We are improving risk assessment models by accounting for tribal land-use scenarios and unique exposure pathways. By translating this knowledge into effective and appropriate risk reduction strategies, we will reduce environmental disparities and improve the health of Pacific Northwest Tribes. The Core provides cultural competency training for SRP trainees and faculty via Sense of Place webinars, science exchanges, and community research opportunities. The CEC works with investigators and partners to develop research projects, with an emphasis on community-engaged research.

Services We Offer

  • Coordinate outreach and engagement initiated by both investigators and communities.
  • Conduct cultural competency training
  • Review research agreements with Indigenous communities
  • Disseminate research, to include return of aggregate-and individual-level research data to engaged communities

Our Current Research

  1. Resources for Conducting Research in Tribal Communities. These resources include videos from the 2018 Tribal Environmental Health Symposium, guidelines for conducting research with tribes, and videos related to environmental justice and law.
  2. The CEC is beginning a new seminar series on Sense of Place, in collaboration with the Indigenous Education Institute. The seminar series will highlight speakers in the Pacific Northwest, discussing impacts of pollution on First Foods, tribal sovereignty, and Indigenous health.
  3. The CEC is working with Dr. Kim Anderson and the PAH Fate and Exposure Project to evaluate individual exposure to PAHs before and after remediation of a former wood creosote production site.
  4. CEC Co-Director Dr. Jamie Donatuto led an Environmental Health Photovoice activity with the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community to learn more about perceptions of climate change, air pollution, and Swinomish health and well-being. The results can be viewed in the Swinomish newsletter, qyuuqs (pages 24-35).
  5. The CEC hosts annual Tribal Youth Tours, initiated in 2017. These tours highlight scientific opportunities at Oregon State, as well as with partner Tribes.

Our Previous Research

  1. Co-sponsored the Tribal Environmental Health Summit in 2018 with NIEHS.
  2. In collaboration with Catherine O’Neill (Seattle University School of Law), the CEC produced a video on Indigenous Risk Assessment
  3. The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community worked with the CEC to install two high-volume air samplers to collect particulate matter and PAHs on the Swinomish Reservation. 
  4. The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation worked with the OSU CEC to study exposure to PAHs via consumption of smoked salmon. SRP trainee Lyndsi Lewis highlighted the research in a blog post.
  5. Working with the Research Translation Core, returned personal air sampling results back to the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community and individual participants during a community meeting. 
  1. Through a collaboration with the Bridging Superfund Site Based Bioavailable Extracts with Biology Project, the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community and the Samish Indian Nation, collected butter clams (subsistence food) from several beaches used for foraging to evaluate PAH concentrations. See photos from the collection here.
  2. Addressed CTUIR concerns regarding their environmental exposures, built Tribal capacity to measure environmental pollutants, and developed risk reduction strategies that improved health without adversely affecting cultural practices. 
  3. Co-organized an event with the Bridging Superfund Site Based Bioavailable Extracts with Biology Project and Louisiana State University Superfund Research Program: Response, Recovery, and Resilience to Oil Spills and Environmental Disasters: Engaging Experts and Communities - A Symposium and Workshop for Community Stakeholders, Researchers and Policymakers, January 2013 in Baton Rouge, LA. 
  4. Engaged 27 Tribal members in three 90-minute focus group sessions to elicit feedback about tribal indicators of health, environmental health concerns, and the importance of smoked food as a cultural tradition. The findings were published in Environmental Justice. 
  5. Installed (with Project 5 and CTUIR personnel) ambient PAH monitors on the CTUIR Reservation. 
  6. Trained a Tribal Air Quality Technician to collect PAH filters; transferred responsibility for air sampling technology for gas- and particle-phase PAHs to CTUIR. 
  7. Facilitated collection of personal air sampling data during traditional smoking of salmon, the first study of its kind conducted with tribal members. 
  8. Collected salmon samples in two types of structures with two different woods. Core D analyzed samples and Core C analyzed statistics; concentrations of PAHs in traditional smoked foods exceed concentrations of PAHs in commercial salmon by factors of 40-400. 
  9. Sponsored a Tribal Research Symposium in 2010 with focus on Tribal legal issues, research ethics, concepts in indigenous and western science, and integration of socio-cultural health indicators in Tribal risk research. 
  10. Developed a Material and Data Sharing Agreement, published it in EHP, distributed it to regional EPA Tribal Liaisons and regional Indian Health Service, and posted on PEPH Resource Center for access by other SRPs. 
  11. Produced training videos to demonstrate how to use personal air samplers in collaboration with Tribal members. 


Photo Albums

Evaluating contaminants in Shellfish with the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community and Samish Indian Nation.

Installing high volume air samplers with the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community.