Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions

Pb Seminar: Perl Egendorf

Date and Time
Wednesday, November 3, 2021 - 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.


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In this talk, Dr. Sara ‘Perl’ Egendorf will discuss a novel framework for understanding coupled human and natural systems and experimenting with systemic changes, illustrated by the case of soil lead (Pb). She will trace systemic interactions and interventions between people and soil Pb at micro-, meso-, and macro- scales, emphasizing misconceptions revolving around phytoextraction, and discussing why plants have limited abilities to uptake and remove Pb from soil. She will conclude with examples of applied and participatory experiments being co-created with impacted communities in New York City to promote environmental justice.

This talk is occurring as part of a project on “Understanding and Controlling Urban Soil Lead Contamination and Its Impact on Public Health” supported by the Nicholas Institute’s Catalyst Program. The Catalyst Program aims build on the Nicholas Institute’s mission by increasing engagement with Duke faculty to incubate and advance new partnerships, enhance policy-relevant knowledge, and create innovative policy solutions based on new creative synergies.


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Some recent works by Dr. Egendorf:

Sara Perl Egendorf, Peter Groffman, Zhongqi Cheng, Michael Menser, Jan Mun, Howard Mielke; Applying a novel systems approach to address systemic environmental injustices: Constructing soil for limiting the legacy of lead (Pb). Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene 21 January 2021; 9 (1): 00174. doi:

Egendorf SP, Mielke HW, Castorena-Gonzalez JA, Powell ET, Gonzales CR. Soil Lead (Pb) in New Orleans: A Spatiotemporal and Racial Analysis. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(3):1314.