Keynote Speaker

Dr. Elena Craft

Science in the Service of Community

Environmental Defense Fund
Wednesday November 16, 2022 8:45 AM

Dr. Elena Craft is Associate Vice President of Climate and Health at Environmental Defense Fund, one of the world's leading environmental organizations. Based in Texas, Dr. Craft has played a central role in bringing together multiple agencies to expand monitoring capabilities and streamline how cities respond to hazardous air pollution and climate-fueled weather disasters, with particular emphasis on identifying vulnerable communities closest to the facilities that most threaten public health and safety. She has helped public officials to identify toxicological exposures from large releases of air pollution, including during climate-fueled disasters, like hurricanes. Her work uncovered a massive leak of cancer-causing benzene in a Houston neighborhood during Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Since then, city, county, and state agencies have purchased additional mobile monitoring instruments to provide rapid and precise information on public health risks for emergency responders and people living near oil refineries, chemical plants, and other potential sources of toxic contamination. She also helped a historically Black neighborhood along the Houston Ship Channel to purchase and install the largest community-owned and -managed network of air quality monitors in the state of Texas.

Dr. Craft serves as an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center and Texas A&M University, and as a Kinder fellow at Rice University. Through those connections, she has pushed forward research efforts to protect public health, including a leading role in the establishment of the Texas Flood Registry - the first registry after catastrophic flooding - to understand the Hurricane Harvey's toll on people's physical and mental health. Dr. Craft has testified extensively in local, state, and national forums, including testifying three times at Congressional House hearings on national air pollution policy. Dr. Craft holds a B.S. degree in biology from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, a M.S. degree in toxicology from North Carolina State University, and a Ph.D. from Duke University.