Media Briefing:
Lead Contamination in Drinking Water

Panelist Biographies

Dr. Mary Jean Brown

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Dr. Mary Jean Brown is on the faculty of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health and the former Chief of the Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention Branch at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).   An internationally recognized expert and leader in the field of childhood lead poisoning prevention, Dr. Brown has provided her expertise to health officials in the U.S., China, Kosovo, and Nigeria, among others. She also works regularly with other U.S. public health agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO) the World Bank and Doctors Without Borders. She has published more than 100 peer reviewed articles, commentaries, and policy documents.

Dr. Brown received a Doctor of Science degree from the Harvard School of Public Health in 2000.She is a registered nurse with a Bachelor of Science degree from Boston College in 1982.

Dr. Adrienne Katner

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Dr. Adrienne Katner is an Assistant Professor at Louisiana State University-New Orleans’ School of Public Health. Prior to entering academia, Dr. Katner worked at the National Cancer Institute and at the Louisiana Office of Public Health. Dr. Katner’s research highlighted problems with the EPA’s Lead and Copper Rule and with public health guidelines on flushing taps to reduce lead exposure. Her research resulted in statewide policy changes to require water testing during home inspections of lead-poisoned children; and was the basis for a Public Health Emergency Proclamation for the town of St. Joseph LA. Her work to raise awareness of the dangers of partial lead service line replacements led the to a New Orleans Office of Inspector General report, which was referred to as “the most serious thing we’ve reported on.”

Dr. Jacqueline MacDonald Gibson

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Dr. MacDonald Gibson is Professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering at the University of North Carolina (UNC), Chapel Hill.  She completed a PhD in Engineering and Public Policy, and a PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering, both from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. In addition, she received a M.S. in Environmental Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL. and her B.A. in Mathematics from Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, PA. Before coming to UNC, other professional experiences have included serving as Engineer and Senior Engineer for RAND Corporation in Washington, D.C, and Pittsburgh, PA.  Dr. MacDonald Gibson was also promoted  through the ranks at the Water Science and Technology Board, National Research Council, in Washington, D.C. as a Research Associate, Staff Officer, Senior Staff Officer, and Associate Director. She has applied her multi-disciplinary background in studies of risk assessment, policy, and communication.  Her research focuses on predicting population health impacts of alternative environmental policy decisions.  Her recent research has included analyzing the impacts on children’s health of racial disparities in access to regulated community water supplies in North Carolina.

Rick Weiss (moderator)

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Rick Weiss is the Director of SciLine.

He has more than three decades of experience in journalism and public affairs, including 15 years as a science reporter at the Washington Post and more than a decade leading strategic communications and media relations activities around issues of science and technology in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. While at The Post, Rick wrote more than 1,000 news and feature articles about advances in science and technology and their economic, societal, and ethical implications. His awards include the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing’s Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Science Reporting and the National Association of Science Writers’ Science and Society Award.

Rick earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Cornell University and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, and holds a license in medical technology with the American Society for Clinical Pathology. He lives in Takoma Park, Maryland, with his wife Natalie Angier, the New York Times science writer and author.

Lead contamination

About This Media Briefing

Drinking water is tightly regulated in the United States and, for the most part, is remarkably safe. Recent lead-contamination episodes in Flint, Michigan, and many other cities, however, have highlighted the fragility of this public health success story and the serious health risks lead poses in significant portions of the U.S. drinking water supply. SciLine’s May 1st media briefing covered how and where lead gets into the water supply, the effects of childhood lead poisoning, disparities in access to clean water, and how U.S. drinking water is regulated.