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Faculty Profile: Susan Swedis

 

Susan Swedis  
Susan R. Swedis, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biology & Natural Sciences
 
Office: Trinity 108
Office Hours: 
Monday, Wednesday, Friday: 9 to 10 a.m., 12 to 1 p.m.
Tuesday, Thursday: 9:30 to 11 a.m.
 
 
Education:
Doctor Environmental Science and Policy, Clark University
Master of Arts in Risk Analysis and Technology Assessment, Clark University
Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry, Clark University

Biography: 
Dr. Swedis has an academic and professional background that is intentionally interdisciplinary and addresses how the interplay of human activities and the natural world can influence human health.

Dr. Swedis became a full-time faculty member of Anna Maria College in 2001, but had taught here part-time in the graduate programs in Emergency Management and Occupational and Environmental Health & Safety for some years before that. Between 2003 and 2012 she was Director of these two programs, and today is involved in guiding the remaining students in these programs through the thesis process leading to degree completion. She is director of the undergraduate Health Science program housed in the School of Fire & Health Sciences.

Her first love in the sciences is in teaching and she hopes to instill in her students a sense of wonder and appreciation of the workings of natural systems as they work to master basic science concepts. She enjoys modest fame as the source of corny chemistry jokes that are both fun and useful as memory tools in the study of chemistry. She also enjoys helping to encourage young scientists by serving on the panel of judges at local and state-wide science fairs. Another area of interest is how science is used in the study of art objects.

Prior to joining Anna Maria College, Dr. Swedis had a varied career in the sciences that in many ways have related to the development of public policies. For example, she has served as a senior scientist at Silent Spring Institute, researching environmental causes of breast cancer; has participated in research on industrial hazards at the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis; and was a registered lobbyist while serving as Toxics Specialist for the Massachusetts Audubon Society. She has served on a number of statewide advisory committees in Massachusetts, as appointed by the Governor or the Secretary of Environmental Affairs. This work included the Massachusetts Advisory Board on Toxics Use Reduction, the Massachusetts Hazardous Waste Advisory Committee, and a Special Task Force for revising the state’s Hazardous Waste Facility Siting Law.

Beyond academics and science advocacy, Dr. Swedis has always been actively involved in the larger community. A few examples of the range of her involvement include service as an elected member of a municipal School Committee; membership on the Patients and Families Advisory Board of a local hospital; and activity in a number of interfaith projects working on issues such as education, healthcare, housing, and the death penalty.

 
Favorite Quote or Motto:
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has." ~Margaret Mead
 
Courses Taught at Anna Maria: 
Introduction to Chemistry I
Introduction to Chemistry II
Earth Science
Cancer, the Environment, and the Workplace
Principles of Epidemiology
Toxicology
Sustainable Development
Environmental Equity
Environmental Hazard and Risk Analysis
 
Research Interests:
Dr. Swedis is interested in human interactions with the environment and their outcomes for public health. Of special interest are chemical hazards such as pesticides and products associated with uses of new technologies, and emerging threats related to climate change. All areas of her research inform her teaching in yielding case studies and opportunities for students to apply basic science concepts to real-world applications.
 
Publications:
Body, J., D. Vorhees, S. Melly, S. Swedis, P. Drivas, and R. Rudel (2002). Using GIS and historical records to reconstruct residential exposure to large-scale pesticide application. Journal of Exposure Analysis and Environmental Epidemiology 12 (1), 64-80.
 
Hattis, D. and S. Swedis (2001). Uses of biomarkers for genetic susceptibility and exposure in the regulatory context. Jurimetrics 41 (2), 177-194.
 
Presentations:
New England: Global crossroads, global destination. With J. Bidwell and J. Gow. Anna Maria College Academic Symposium, April 2016.
 
Using humor to diffuse learner anxiety. Lunch and Learn session: Center for Teaching Excellence, Anna Maria College, March 2010
 
Fostering student research. Lunch and Learn session: Center for Teaching Excellence, December 2009.