Bhavna Shamasunder

Assistant Professor, Urban and Environmental Policy

I work on issues related to environmental health and justice with focus on the disparate and cumulative burdens faced by communities of color and the poor. I am also interested in how social movements leverage science in campaigns for justice.


  • Office: Urban & Environmental Policy Institute 203
  • Email: bhavna@oxy.edu
  • Phone: (323) 341-4695
  • Office Hours: TR 1-2pm or by appointment

Education: B.S./B.A., UC San Diego; M.ES., Yale University; Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Note: I am on leave in Fall 2016 as a Visiting Researcher; Georgetown University; School of Nursing & Health Studies; Mid-Atlantic Center for Children’s Health and the Environment. I will be back at Oxy for Spring 2017

Research Interests

Environmental Justice, Environmental Health, Community Engaged Research, Chemical Policy, Biomonitoring, Social Movements

Current Research Projects

Debates Over Chemical Biomonitoring/"Body Burden"; Chemical Policy and Politics

Environmental Justice impacts from oil extraction and new unconventional drilling practices in Los Angeles  (check out the video by the Liberty Hill Foundation on the oil rush in LA

Equity and Environmental Justice Based Approaches to Climate Adaptation


Research Methods in Urban and Environmental Policy (UEP 304); Environmental Health and Policy (UEP 201); Society and Environment (UEP 101); Senior Comprehensive Seminar (UEP 410/411)

Recent Talks/Conferences

August 11, 2016; Invited Speaker by Los Angeles County Civil Grand Jury; Environmental Exposures and Neighborhood Oil Drilling in Los Angeles: Issues of Government and Governance; http://www.grandjury.co.la.ca.us/

August 3, 2016; Invited Talk by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and The Empowerment Congress; Landscaping Environmental Equity in LA County: A Look at Recent Challenges and their Impact on Public Health; MLK Center for Public Health; http://empowermentcongress.org/

April 9, 2016; Panelest "Climate Change & Global Health"; Los Angeles Policy Symposium, “People, Planet, Profits: Policy Solutions for a Changing World”

April 2016; "Beyond Distributional Justice: The Race, Class, and Climate Implications of Oil Development in Los Angeles”; Panel on Climate Change: Impacts, Equity, and Policy Struggles. American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting; San Francisco, CA

February 12, 2016; "Citizen Science: When the Community Conducts Their Own Research"; Stakeholder Roundtable, Environmental Health Investigations Branch, Department of Public Health. 

January 21& 22, 2016; "Race, Health Disparities, and Community Engaged Research: Case Study of Los Angeles"; Symposium on the Public Health Dimensions of Oil and Gas Development: Tools, Strategies, and Collaboration. 

November 21& 21, 2015; New York City Healthy Homes Summit; Our community partner Luke Ippoliti with MEND and Raquel Mason (Oxy 2014) presented our research on home gardens.  

November 15, 2014; Democratizing Technologies; University of California, Santa Barbara


National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship  

Indo-American Environmental Fulbright Fellowship

University of California Chancellor's Fellowship

Selected Publications

 “Beyond Distributional Justice: Neighborhood Oil Drilling in Los Angeles”; in Contested Expertise in Toxic Environments; Spring 2017; University of Pittsburgh Press.

“Chlorpyrifos Contamination across the Food System: Shifting Science, Regulatory Challenges, and Implications for Public Health”; in The Intersection of Food and Public Health: Examining Current Challenges and Solutions in Policy and Politics; (Forthcoming) Spring 2017; CRC Press/Taylor & Francis. 

Shamasunder B, Mason R, Ippoliti L, & Robledo L; (June 2015); "Growing Together: Poverty Alleviation, Community Building, and Environmental Justice Through Home Gardens in Pacoima, Los Angeles"; Environnmental Justice (http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/env.2015.0005 )

Shamasunder B and Morello-Frosch R (2015) Scientific contestations over ‘toxic trespass’: health and regulatory implications of chemical biomonitoring. Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, 1-13 (http://escholarship.org/uc/item/99d4b17n)

Sadd, James and Shamasunder, Bhavna; "Oil Extraction in Los Angeles: Health, Land Use, and Environmental Justice Consequencess"; in Drilling Down: The Community Consequences of Expanded Oil Development in Los Angeles; Liberty Hill Foundation. 

List to a podcast by the Science and Environmental Health Network about this article and the connection to National Chemical Policy Reform.  


Popular Media

Crude LA: California's Urban Oil Fields; VICE News; April 27, 2016

"Flint is Just the Tip of the Iceberg"New Republic; February 10, 2016


National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences Grants Review Panel

Board Member, Science and Environmental Health Network 

California Board of Registered Nursing; Public Member; Appointed by Senate President pro Tem Kevin de Leon