Promoting Professional Development and Best Practice in EE
Roles at NAAEE:30 Under 30
Medical Student and Environmental Health Advocate
University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)
Raj (he/him) is an environmental health leader who implements climate and health education for patients, health professional students, and faculty to promote public health and sustainability.
How are you using education to build more sustainable and equitable communities?
As the Student Lead for the Wildfire Education Project for the new University of California Center for Climate, Health, and Equity, I have created an online wildfire education hub for patients and providers. Within this resource, I have designed evidence-based infographics on wildfire smoke, health risks, and mitigation strategies—some of the first patient-facing educational materials on these topics. These resources will be shared broadly across the 10 University of California campuses and can be easily accessed by healthcare providers across the country and world.
I have found that education on environmental health can be a powerful stimulus that galvanizes people to support sustainability. Toward this end, I founded and directed the Environmental Health Working Group of the Berkeley Climate Action Coalition in 2019. Under my leadership, this community group hosted several online webinar series (300+ attendees) to expand people’s understanding of climate change-related health effects and discuss steps to adopt sustainable lifestyle choices.
Other environmental education initiatives in which I have held leadership roles include the Planetary Health Report Card (a global initiative to improve sustainable healthcare education for health professional students) and the NorCal Symposium for Climate, Health, and Equity.
Tell us about your journey to where you are today.
I come from a family lineage of farmworkers in India, and while raising me in the Bay Area, my parents shared the intimate connection they had with the planet with me. This led me to develop a strong appreciation for the natural world as well as curiosity about nature. My family also greatly values the process of generating and sharing knowledge with others to build community resilience.
During my community service work as a youth, I began to discern the interconnectedness of environmental conditions, socioeconomic factors, and human well-being. These experiences motivated me to study Public Health and Conservation & Resource Studies at UC Berkeley for college, and then I matriculated to a MS/MD program at UC Berkeley/UC San Francisco so that I could become a physician-researcher-leader. I plan to continue raising awareness of the climate-health intersection within the medical field, which has been underemphasized until recently, as well as with my patients and communities. I hope to contribute to widespread creation and implementation of climate and health curriculum for medical students, so that the next generation of doctors is prepared to mitigate and address the health impacts of the climate crisis.
A LITTLE MORE ABOUT ME
What advice would you give to the next generation of leaders?
The climate crisis is a complex, multifactorial issue, so take time to reflect on your personal passions and curiosity and use them to guide you in identifying areas in which you desire to have a positive impact.
What makes you most excited to be an EE30U30 awardee?
It is an honor to join a community of leaders in environmental education in which we can learn from each other’s experiences, discover ways to expand our impact, and create novel solutions for evolving environmental issues.
If you were to choose one place to live for the rest of your life, where would it be and why?
Anywhere along the Italian coast with easy access to hiking trails and pizza.
How do you recharge?
A combination of hiking, meditation, and exploring new restaurants.