Lauren Richter


Lauren Richter is a Research Fellow at the Silent Spring Institute and Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute at Northeastern University in Boston. Her fellowship is funded by a Leadership Grant from the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from Northeastern University, and her research focuses on social inequality, environmental justice, and health social movements. Her dissertation examined scientific controversies surrounding chemical exposure and adverse human health outcomes. Drawing on participant observation, interviews, and archival research, she traces the production of scientific knowledge and ignorance pertaining to the human health effects of exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs). This research aims to strengthen regulatory frameworks to more effectively characterize and prevent adverse environmental health effects. Lauren’s second area of research uses critical race theory to examine how race structures environmental exposures which in turn shape legal, scientific, and regulatory recourse.

Lauren’s doctoral research was funded by a National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant, fellowships from the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation, and the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Northeastern University. She has published articles in the journals Environmental SociologyEnvironmental Science & Technology, Social Studies of ScienceOrganization & Environment, the American Journal of Public Health, and the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental EpidemiologyShe developed and taught courses on environmental justice at the University of San Francisco in 2009 and 2011. In 2016 she was a founding member of the Racial Equity Task Force for the American Sociological Association Section on Environmental Sociology. In 2018, her article, “Constructing Insignificance: Critical Race Perspectives on Institutional Failure in Environmental Justice Communities” won the Best Student Paper Award from the Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences, and the Outstanding Research Paper Award from the Department of Sociology & Anthropology at Northeastern University.

In 2018, Lauren completed at two-year Certification in Mindful Facilitation focused on conversations on race, racism, and white privilege with StirFry Seminars & Consulting. She was invited to design and lead a public workshop on facilitating conversations on racism at the College of the Atlantic in Maine in 2018. Prior to pursuing a Ph.D. she worked at the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment in California from 2009-2013, and completed an M.A. in Sociology from Washington State University in 2008. She served on the board of directors at Alternatives for Community and Environment, a Roxbury-based environmental justice organization from 2013 to 2017. She is currently a member of Showing up for Racial Justice (SURJ) Boston.