Community Noise Lab in Mississippi

The overwhelming majority of our research work has existed in communities that have a fair amount of privilege in comparison to other parts of our country. These privileges include: strong socioeconomic base, community organization and support around a noise issue, proximity and access to world-class research institutions, engaged and sufficiently resourced local governments, and up-to-date infrastructure. As a result, we have not yet grappled with the question of how best to address environmental exposures such as noise in areas that have none of these privileges. Thanks to generous funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Community Noise Lab is starting a comprehensive and large-scale environmental exposure assessment in the Jackson Metropolitan Statistical Area, starting fall 2021. In addition to sound level data collection, we will also be collecting air pollution, water quality data and administering our National Environmental Quality Survey.  We will also be engaging other public health practitioners, environmental engineers, sociologists, psychologists, artists, and urban planners to develop and test solutions for the environmental disparities experienced in this community.This geographical area lacks all of the key privileges listed earlier while simultaneously grappling with significant social, economic, and health disparities. This is also the birthplace of Dr. Walker. Our main operating research agenda is focused on leaving behind relevant tools, data, and knowledge to be utilized for continued advocacy.

Our Open Access Data Portal: Overseen by our Master Librarian, Dewy Decibel, this open-source, free-access data repository will consist of a data visualization interface that would allow community users, policymakers, or local governments (of all degrees of the privileges mentioned above) to query the data, view and overlay data on a series of maps, and download data to use for awareness, advocacy, epidemiological analysis, and policy development. This data repository could also be potentially used to link other datasets developed in the area

Piney Woods School Collaboration: Founded in 1909 by Laurence C. Jones, The Piney Woods School is a co-educational independent historically African-American boarding school for grades 9 – 12. It is one of four remaining historically African-American boarding Schools in the United States and is the largest (and second oldest) African-American boarding in the United States. Community Noise Lab is working closely with PWS’s Mathematics and Science Departments, directly collaborating with Dr. Christina Nica and her students, to explore a variety of environmental justice and public health projects in the region.

In September 2021, we launched our inaugural cohort of Mississippi Environmental Scholars Program. Our first cohort consists of 6 highly-motivated and deeply impassioned high school students from Mendenhall High School and Rankin County High School.These students will spend the next year learning about public health, environmental health, field exposure assessments, statistical analysis, community engagement, and academic writing. Our next application call will be spring 2022 and is open to ANY and ALL high school students in Copiah, Hinds, Madison, Rankin, and Simpson Counties. Watch this space to learn more about applying for this program.