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NHE 6-5 Dr. Kathy Vandiver – Environmental Educator Extraordinaire!

Nurses for Healthy Environments
Nurses for Healthy Environments
NHE 6-5 Dr. Kathy Vandiver - Environmental Educator Extraordinaire!

Kathleen M Vandiver, PhD

Dr. Vandiver earned her Ph.D. in 1982 from the Tufts University School of Medicine from the Anatomy & Cellular Biology Department and joined the research team at OPTRA, Inc. an optics instrumentation startup. Later in a career shift, she obtained a M.Ed. from Harvard University and taught 6th grade science in the Lexington Public Schools (Lexington, MA) for 16 years.  As team leader, she helped to initiate Project Days which continued for 10 years.  Vandiver received the ‘Science Educator of the Year Award’ in 2009 and was inducted into the Massachusetts Science Educators Hall of Fame in 2011 by the Massachusetts Association of Science Teachers (MAST).  In 2006 Vandiver left classroom teaching and joined the MIT Center for Environmental Health Sciences. As the Director of Community Outreach Education & Engagement Core for this center, she partners with communities to improve environmental public health through science education and community engagement. Her MIT role also includes working with tribal communities in Maine on drinking water quality with the MIT Superfund Research Program. Vandiver is the recipient of the Office of the Vice President of Research 2019 MIT Infinite Mile Award for her professional endeavors. Her community work is currently focused in Malden, MA where she initiated a project in equitable resilience, working towards creating a climate resilient public park through a strong community-led process. Additionally, Vandiver directs a national Short Course for nurses serving marginalized communities including tribal communities. This NIH grant’s helps to explain  how the severity of disease can be affected by a populations’ genetic susceptibility as well as by their increased exposure to hazardous chemicals in their environment.

Co-hosts of the EHRI-CNS Series:

Heide Cygan, DNP, RN, PHNA-BC

Dr. Cygan  is an Associate Professor at the Rush University College of Nursing, in the Department of Community, Systems and Mental Health where she teaches public health nursing to graduate and doctoral students. She earned her Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing from the University of Michigan and her Doctor of Nursing Practice in Advanced Public Health Nursing from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Dr. Cygan is a board certified advanced public health nurse. As a public health nurse, a main tenant of Dr. Cygan’s practice is understanding the reciprocal relationship between humans and their environment. Much of Dr. Cygan’s current scholarship is dedicated to advancing planetary health through nurses and other health professionals. She specifically focuses on innovative teaching strategies that develop nursing students as planetary health leaders.


Heidi Honegger Rogers, DNP, FNP C, APHN BC, FNAP

Dr. Honegger Rogers is a clinician educator – associate professor at the University of New Mexico (UNM) College of Nursing. She is the Director of Interprofessional Education for the UNM Health Sciences Center. Her advocacy and scholarship centers in climate change and health, equity and justice, nature connection, wellbeing, and planetary health.  She leads the Planetary Health Task Force for the American Holistic Nurses Association, and she works with Nurses for Planetary Health, Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, the Global Consortium for Climate Change and Health Education Nurses Working Group, and  the Planetary Health Alliance. She is a facilitator with the Work That Reconnects and a certified Nature and Forest Therapy Guide. She is dedicated to bringing a Planetary Health Lens into our work as nurses and health professionals.   Pronoun preferences: she/her/hers.


About the Focus on EHRI-NCS Series

The NIEHS funded EHRI-NCS grant (PI Jessica Castner, PhD, RN, FAAN) offers research, educational, and career-building opportunities for nurse environmental health scientists. In this series, two participants, Dr. Heide Cygan and Dr. Heidi Honegger Rogers interview other fellows about their studies and experiences.  Join us for a fascinating journey of ideas!

About the Nurses for Healthy Environments Podcast

Since 2017, Beth and other hosts have interviewed dozens of nurses across the globe, all of whom are working at the intersection of health and environment. The goals of the podcast are to spread the word about the fabulous work of the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments – so we’re glad you found us! And, to highlight and share the amazing and leading work nurses around the world are doing to help protect our natural world in order to support health and healing.

Again and again, nurses are spearheading social change, climate action, environmental justice, and improving health for vulnerable populations, while using their valuable clinical skills, teaching, and caring.  Nurses’ work can seem overlooked or taken for granted, and we are here to tell their important stories. We hope you enjoy meeting the nurses in the Nurses for Healthy Environments podcast!

Beth Schenk, Nurses for Healthy Environments Podcast Host

Elizabeth Schenk, PhD, RN, FAAN, is a leader of environmental stewardship in healthcare, where she has been working to reduce pollution from healthcare for 3 decades. Schenk is a former board member of the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, and serves on the boards of Montana Health Professionals for a Healthy Climate and Climate Smart Missoula.