Print Friendly and PDF
Making an impact with environmental health: Yanelli Nunez, PhD.

Making an impact with environmental health: Yanelli Nunez, PhD.

Engaging in ways to make scientific work more impactful

How does one discover their life's work in environmental health? The paths are numerous, but Dr. Nunez provides a compelling example.


Dr. Nunez’s family migrated to the United States looking for job opportunities and a better life when she was a teenager. The transition from living in a small rural town in southern Mexico to San Diego, California, sparked in her an interest in learning about how our environments shape us and influence our lifestyles and health.

In this video, learn how this first-generation college student discovered her passion for environmental health sciences and about her mission to contribute to creating healthy and sustainable communities where everyone has an opportunity to thrive.

Yanelli Nunez, Ph.D.; Physicians, Scientists, and Engineers for Health Energy

Yanelli Nunez earned her Ph.D. in environmental health sciences from Columbia University in 2020 after graduating with a Bachelor’s in biological sciences from San Diego State University and serving as a public health Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal, West Africa.

During her graduate studies, Dr. Nunez examined the effects of long-term exposure to air pollution on the aggravation of neurodegenerative diseases. She also worked on studies evaluating co-exposure to multiple environmental pollutants to more comprehensively characterize the totality of environmental stressors and their impact on health. During her graduate training, Dr. Nunez learned about the pronounced racial and social inequities in environmental exposures and the resulting health disparities, which drove her to focus her postdoctoral training on environmental equity.

In the summer of 2022, Dr. Nunez completed her postdoctoral training at Columbia University, analyzing air pollution emissions trends to investigate whether improvements in air quality throughout the United States have been equitable across racial and economic groups.

Dr. Nunez is currently a scientist in PSE Healthy Energy, working in close collaboration with community-based organizations, policymakers and stakeholders. She is expanding her environmental health research in the areas of climate resilience, energy equity and environmental justice.

Dr. Nunez is an avid runner and hiker. She loves the outdoors, trying new food and exploring new cultures.

Learn more

Find Dr. Nunez on Twitter @yanelli_nunez

Explore her website here.

Cutting Edge of Science

Discover what exciting research other early-career scientists are up to in our exclusive series in partnership with the Science Communication Network.

Learn more here.

Become a donor
Today's top news

Revealed: Nearly 100 potential PFAS-polluted sites in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia from fracking waste

A new map reveals at least 97 new locations that could have been contaminated by the industry’s use of “forever chemicals”

Obesogens: Chemicals that cause weight gain

It's not all diet and exercise.

From our newsroom

Op-ed: Why academic journals need to embrace youth

We’re tired of hearing leaders say we need creative solutions to climate issues, and then ignoring the creative solutions youth present.

New study details Coca-Cola’s big influence on public heath organizations, conferences and events

An investigation reveals the beverage giant gives big bucks to influence research and policy through events and conferences.

Op-ed: Arming doctors with knowledge about PFAS pollution

A new course and report on PFAS-related health effects can empower patients, promote life-saving screening and help tackle the continued devastating health effects of PFAS chemicals.

Peter Dykstra: Public disservants

A quartet of Interior Secretaries who gave the rest a bad name.

Evidence of PFAS in sanitary and incontinence pads

The findings come on the heels of other testing that found the forever chemicals in some popular tampons.