Earth and Environmental Science

Rare sparrows make guest appearance at Penn

Earlier this year, Penn Medicine epidemiologist Doug Wiebe glimpsed two small all-white birds outside Van Pelt Library that turned out to be albino house sparrows. Their coloration is likely the result of a genetic condition in which a bird’s feathers lack pigment.

Michele W. Berger

Shining a light on the dangers of lead

Lead poisoning robs children of opportunity, and the impact is worse in underserved communities. Faculty and students at Penn are bringing scientific and policy attention to the problem, while empowering young people to minimize their risk and be leaders for change.

Katherine Unger Baillie

Media Contact

In the News

The Hill

Wealthy households have 25 percent higher carbon impacts than lower-income homes

Vincent Reina of the Stuart Weitzman School of Design spoke about how class affects access to sustainable energy alternatives. “For higher income individuals, it's a function of choice," he said. "For lower income individuals, it's a function of constraints.”


The New York Times

Southern Iraq’s toxic twilight

Marilyn Howarth of the Perelman School of Medicine says oil rain, a byproduct of oil production, can be carcinogenic. “The oil itself can contain traces of heavy metals, arsenic, and radioactivity, which could be a source of lung cancer,” she said.



No asteroids needed: ancient mass extinction tied to ozone loss, warming climate

Lauren Sallan of the School of Arts & Sciences spoke about the end of the Devonian period 359 million years ago, in which the ozone layer was damaged, resulting in a mass extinction. The discovery is significant to today’s climate change research.


WHYY (Philadelphia)

When it comes to coronavirus, air pollution may put marginalized communities in danger

Anil Vachani of the Perelman School of Medicine spoke about the combined effects of air pollution and coronavirus on marginalized communities. “We’re certainly recognizing that exposure to chronic air pollution results in a number of adverse health outcomes which are increasingly recognized. It may even contribute to a whole host of other illnesses that we’re now understanding the links to, to poor air quality and air pollution,” he said.


The Hill

R&D, not Greenland, can solve our rare earth problem

Research into rare earth metals by Eric Schelter, Patrick Carroll, Ph.D. student Justin Bogart, and alumnus Connor Lippincott of the School of Arts and Sciences was cited.


Atlas Obscura

The secret lives of sand dunes

Douglas Jerolmack of the School of Arts and Sciences spoke about sediment transport and sand dunes, which move in response to temperature and time and can travel several feet each year.