Author-activist Sandra Steingraber to keynote SustainIU Week

  • Feb. 14, 2017


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Sandra Steingraber, a cancer survivor, author, scientist and activist who brings a personal perspective to studying the links between human health and the environment, will be the keynote speaker for next week's SustainIU Week activities at Indiana University Bloomington.

Steingraber will speak at 7 p.m. Feb. 21 in Whittenberger Auditorium in the Indiana Memorial Union. Her 1997 book "Living Downstream: An Ecologist's Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment," is credited with being the first to bring together data on toxic releases and cancer.

“Dr. Steingraber is an especially important voice in the national sustainability conversation," said Makayla Bonney, IU Office of Sustainability project coordinator. "She speaks with the authority of both an acclaimed author and researcher, as well as a cancer survivor. Her writing is artistic and compelling while remaining grounded in empirical research."

SustainIU Week, hosted by the IU Student Sustainability Council, takes place Feb. 20 to 25 and will include lectures, panel discussions, film screenings and other events tied to the theme "A Changing Climate, a Changing Conscience," with a focus on ethics in a time of climate crisis.

Steingraber was diagnosed with bladder cancer as a student at Illinois Wesleyan University. In "Living Downstream," she writes about studying medical journals as an undergraduate to understand her diagnosis. The experience influenced her career path, as she earned a master's degree in English and creative writing from Illinois Wesleyan and a Ph.D. in biological sciences from the University of Michigan.

As a science writer, she has explored the connections between exposure to toxic chemicals in the environment and cancer and reproductive and developmental disorders. She also writes about such topics as energy conservation, climate change and the environmental risks of fracking.

"The Student Sustainability Council is honored to host Sandra Steingraber as our keynote speaker," council member Kristen Billings said. "Her lecture will be an exciting opportunity for our campus to learn from a leader of the environmental and climate justice movements. She transcends the boundaries of academic discipline and bridges the gap between academia and advocacy."

"Living Downstream" inspired an award-winning film released in 2010. Steingraber is also the author of "Raising Elijah: Protecting Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis" and "Having Faith: An Ecologist’s Journey to Motherhood."

SustainIU Week, first celebrated in 2008, receives support from the Department of Biology, Department of Geological Sciences, Department of Geography, Integrated Program in the Environment, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, School of Public Health-Bloomington, IU Student Association and IU Office of Sustainability.

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Sandra Steingraber

Sandra Steingraber | Photo by Laura Kozlowski

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Media Contacts

Kristen Billings

Engagement intern

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