Student Spotlight: Centering Community in Research, Jaden Iñiguez (BS ‘21)
Drawn to environmental policy, Jaden Iñiguez works in a lab focused on co-created citizen science, collaborating with Arizona communities directly affected by environmental contamination.
Iñiguez (BS Environmental Science ‘21) moved across the country to attend the University of Arizona and gain a new perspective on environmental issues.
Her passion for environmental science solidified while writing an autobiography on her relationship with the environment in faculty Mónica Ramírez-Andreotta's class, Ecosystem Health and Justice (ENVS 310).
“Writing that paper, I found that many of the things I loved revolved around the environment. And that’s when I knew, I wanted to create solutions to protect our earth.”
Working in Community Engagement Research
Originally from Westchester, New York, Iñiguez wants to learn about policy and how it can be used to help communities directly affected by poor environmental quality.
In the Ramírez-Andreotta Integrated Environmental Science and Health Risk Lab, Iñiguez works with a diverse team on the co-created citizen science program, Project Harvest.
“I love being in this lab, knowing the goal is to help the community and making a difference in their lives.”
This program centers on addressing environmental and health concerns in Arizona communities related to harvested rainwater, as well as the quality of soil and plants irrigated with it.
Her part of the program is a subproject focused on native desert plant species growing in storm water drainage basins in Tucson. She wants to understand if any human consumption of these plants are dangerous to community members.
“These plants could be taking up metals in their roots—I analyze these plants to determine if people could be exposed to heavy metals during consumption.”
She’s also interested in waste reduction and sustainability as an active member of Students for Sustainability and the UA Green Fund. These organizations work towards increasing environmental literacy and funding around the University of Arizona campus.
Drawn Towards Environmental Policy
Iñiguez wants go into policy, and has her eye on graduate school or law school. She eventually hopes to work with an intergovernmental agency to make effective and impactful environmental policy changes.
On track to graduate in just three years this coming spring, Iñiguez wants to find an internship to help her explore her options.
“Making connections with your peers and professors can be a game-changer. I’m excited for what comes next to reach my goal of solving environmental issues.”