The Wylie Lab seeks to investigate environmental injustice across the life cycle of oil and gas from production, to transport, refining and storage, to the toxicities of downstream products.
Members of the Wylie Lab work collaboratively with community organizations, NGOs, environmental scientists, and computer scientists to develop new methods for environmental justice research and corporate accountability. Currently, we are working on ways to map the neurotoxic gas hydrogen sulfide using photographic paper and on ways to visualize, in real-time, water pollution from industrial outfalls. We are presently working with communities in Wyoming, Montana, Texas, and Saskatchewan to analyze air quality impacts from oil and gas extraction. In 2014-2015 we worked with Pennsylvania’s Environmental Health Project to assess their citizen science efforts to monitor particulate matter emissions from unconventional energy. In 2015 we worked on a successful campaign with the Southeast Environmental Task Force and Ban Petcoke to study and map piles of petcoke, a waste product from tar sands refining. In 2016-17 we worked with the Swinomish Reservation in Washington State to analyze air quality impacts from neighboring oil refining operations. Presently, we work with Chelsea Massachusetts’ environmental justice organization GreenRoots to study the environmental health impacts of their seven oil storage facilities. Our work is funded by the Harvard School of Public Health’s JPB Environmental Fellowship, the Heinz foundation and Harvard and Boston Universities: Center for Research on Environmental and Social Stressors in Housing Across the Life Course (CRESSH).
Lead by SSEHRI Core Faculty: Associate Prof. Sara Wylie, Sociology/Anthropology and Health Sciences, Northeastern University
- Seth Cooper, Assistant Prof., Khoury College of Computer Sciences, Northeastern University
- Sophie Spatharioti, Graduate Student, Northeastern University
- Lourdes Vera, Graduate Student, Northeastern University
- Sarah Lerman-Sinkoff, Graduate Student, Clark University
- Grace Poudrier, Graduate Student, Northeastern University
- Larissa Morikawa, Undergrad, Northeastern University
- Kira Mok, Undergrad, Northeastern University
- Sophie Kelly, Undergrad, Northeastern University
Current Projects and Affiliated Organizations
Hydrogen Sulfide Monitoring
Working with a low-cost, open-source tool we developed through Public Lab, Wylie’s group is studying how a community’s ability to communicate the risk of Hydrogen Sulfide exposure, and how it is changed by making it visible. We employ photographic paper that tarnishes with exposure to H2S to map sources of the gas. We are ethnographically tracking how communities use these “data-rich” images in their advocacy.
In the aim of building connections between community science and regulatory action, Sara Wylie and Northeastern computer science professor, Seth Cooper, developed a website for crowdsourcing analysis of images from both rapid and protracted environmental disasters. This project further develops one of Public Lab’s open source software tools, MapMill for crowdsorting of image sets. MapMill was adapted and used by FEMA in response to Hurricane Sandy to organize a crowd-sorting effort that yielded thousands of images.
Environmental Data & Governance Initiative (EDGI)
Environmental Data and Governance Initiative is a large collaborative effort between academics and non-profits to track, analyze and respond to changes in U.S. Federal environmental governance under the Trump Administration. Sara Wylie is a founding member of EDGI and the co-editor with Rebecca Lave of their The First 100 Days and Counting Series of rapid response academic reports on changes to Federal Environmental Governance.
Public Lab is a web-based open source research and development community that produces and uses home-made research tools. While at Public Lab, Sara Wylie directed Toxics and Health Research. She continues to volunteer as a Public Lab Organizer and develop many of the project she began while at Public Lab such as methods for mapping Hydrogen Sulfide, a neurotoxic gas produced during oil and gas production and tools for visualizing environmental pollution in realtime.