Dr. Chiung-Fang Chang receives grant funding to collaborate on environmental health concerns

Dr. Chiung-Fang Chang, associate professor of sociology, has been granted $131,000 from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine as part of their Gulf Research Program initiative.   Focus Group

The research effort, totaling over $700,000 in complete funding, will be part of a large collaboration led by Prairie View A&M University in conjunction with Lamar University, Texas A&M University, Texas State University, the University of Arkansas, California State University – Dominguez Hills, the Beaumont Public Health Department, and other environmental justice organizations. 

The project aims to identify important social determinants of health using community-based participatory research focused on the Beaumont-Port Arthur metropolitan statistical area. Researchers will examine the impact of industrial pollution from industrial and petrochemical plants on the high cancer and asthma rates of the region.   

“Lamar University research here in Southeast Texas is critical, as our community faces significantly higher risk in coming years from natural disasters like hurricanes that will likely continue to strain our public health system,” Chang said.  

Dr. Chang and her team will interview residents, conduct focus groups, and collect data on pollution and healthcare to identify common causes on the community’s health, healthcare needs and systems, and access to preventative care. Leveraging diverse academic and scientific backgrounds of this large collaboration will allow the team to develop innovative strategies for addressing the health disparities associated with climate change and environmental degradation.   

“Any significant opportunity to develop meaningful long-term improvements for our community depends on rigorous academic investigation on how Beaumont-Port Arthur residents face public health burdens in order to better serve the population at scale,” Chang said.  

The results of this project will inform future policy decisions, as well as mitigation to reduce environmental health burdens and risks and contribute to global efforts to address environmental injustices as a structural public health issue. 

Chang’s dedication to sociological matters impacting vulnerable communities runs deep, driving her to tackle the root causes of environmental injustices and health disparities that disproportionately affect vulnerable populations. She joined Lamar University in 2007 and served as the sociology program director for over 14 years, during which time she was recognized with the prestigious University Merit Award in 2011. Chiung-Fang is actively involved in projects researching the impacts of the COVID-19 virus on postpartum depression as well as the effects of climate change across the sociological spectrum. 

To learn more about Lamar University’s Department of Sociology please visit https://www.lamar.edu/arts-sciences/sociology-social-work-criminal-justice/sociology/index.html.