Anthropology and Environment Society
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
Brendan O'Leary (Wayne State University)
Camille Akemann (Wayne State University)
This paper critically looks at the processes of doing interdisciplinary research by a group of students from the Transformative Research in Urban Sustainability Training (T-RUST) program at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI. The group of researchers have specializations in engineering, pharmacology, and anthropology, and are currently researching water quality concerns in Southeast Michigan from a multi-focal lens. Objectives include understanding preferential pathway modeling for groundwater, phenotypic and genomic effects of 1,4-dioxane exposure, and how cities and citizens manage groundwater amid drinking water contamination concerns. Urban groundwater quality in the Great Lakes Basin is an issue largely overlooked due to the region’s reliance on surface water resources for drinking water in urban areas. The researchers are following the Ann Arbor dioxane plume contamination, which was the result of a decades-old industrialized site that has leached 1,4 dioxane into the groundwater. The plume is mobile, and has recently been detected in the city's surface water supply and in finished drinking water. By taking a critical look at groundwater governance, we are hoping to understand government rationale and decision-making regarding water safety issues across Southeast Michigan. This paper also attends to the complexities of conducting interdisciplinary work on issues of sustainability, and how the T-RUST program is working to encourage collaboration across disciplines on relevant social issues.