by Rachel Morello-Frosch

About Rachel Morello-Frosch

Rachel Morello-Frosch is Professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management and the School of Public Health at the University of California-Berkeley. Her scientific work examines the combined, synergistic effects of social and environmental factors in environmental health disparities. She also studies the ways in which health social movements (re)shape scientific thinking about environmental health issues. She is coauthor of the book Contested Illnesses: Citizens, Science, and Health Social Movements.


Environmental health is increasingly a topic of international sociological research. Although the environment and human health are inextricably connected, the social and environmental contributors to population health, disease, and wellness are too often ignored in the social and medical sciences in favor of a more individualized focus on behaviors and illnesses. This represents a shift from previous modes of inquiry that emphasized environmental links to public health. As early as the nineteenth century, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels connected population health with harsh labor conditions, unfettered industrialization, and capitalist oppression. In the United States in the early twentieth century, urban public health practitioners and activists highlighted the health problems associated with urban environmental conditions and chemical exposure (Gottlieb 1993).