|MadSci Network: Environment & Ecology|
Dear Social Work Grad., It sounds like the type of work you are interested in falls under the catigory of environmental epidemiology. Epidemiology is a branch of science that deals with how agents (disease causing entities like toxic chemicals or bacteria) affect peoples health. Environmental epidemiology is specific to examining agent/receptor (people) interactions found in the environment as opposed to say the causes of genetic diseases. Most people who do this kind of research have degrees in one of the environmental sciences. For someone with a BA in social science, my best advice is to get a graduate degree in epidemiology. I have heard of programs that specialize in behavioral or developmental epidemiology, although I can not site any specific schools. Most large universities have an epidemiology program attached to their school of medicine or health science. I think it is probably unlikely that without an advanced degree in such a program you would find much work in this field. However, with even a masters degree your chances are quite good. Many city health departments conduct the type of research you are interested in as do state departments of health or of environmental affairs. Also, university faculty conduct this type of research. I in fact have done work in very similar areas to your own interest. With a BA in Environmental Biology and a masters degree in Environmental Health I have worked for both city and state environmental health agencies in California. A typical day is vary hard to describe in this forum but frequently involve data collection and interpretation, report writing, communicating results with other interested parties, and on and on... If I were you I would contact the Epidemiology department at a local major university. If you are really interested in this field, it's your best bet. The education you already have may be enough to get you into such a program, so your off to a good start. Good Luck.
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