Mackenzie Moore on Discovering Environmental Justice at UArizona

April 21, 2021
Mackenzie Moore headshot

What is your field of study/year in school?
I am a fourth-year student studying Environmental Science and Molecular & Cellular Biology.

What are you involved in on campus or in Tucson?
I'm a lab assistant at the Arizona Laboratory for Emerging Contaminants, which is an analytical soil and water lab on campus, and I am the Adaptive Response Team Lead and a Waste Reduction committee member for the ASUA program Students for Sustainability. 

What environmental issues are you most passionate about?
I am most passionate about groundwater and environmental justice issues. The research I've done throughout my undergraduate career has mainly focused on analyzing water for contaminants, such as perfluoroalkyl substances and trace metals, and I'm really interested in the public health outcomes associated with groundwater contaminated by these substances. Since water is such a precious resource, especially here in Arizona, I'm passionate about ensuring that we have clean water sources and that communities that have been affected by polluted water are advocated for and offered better protection.

On what day in your time at UArizona did you learn the most?
My freshman year I took a class called "Environment and Society" and I remember one of the lectures we covered the topic of environmental justice. It was the first time I had learned about how people are disproportionately affected by climate change and pollution and that there was a movement to ensure access to a healthy environment for everyone. That day (and class overall) played a major role in shaping the rest of my time here, since it was what made me declare Environmental Science as a major.

What inspires you most in your major?
I'm most inspired by the people in the Environmental Science department. I'm surrounded by peers and faculty who motivate me to fight for a more sustainable future both through research and through activism.

What has being involved in student activism taught you?
Being involved in student activism has taught me that my generation has the power to create meaningful change. In my time at the University of Arizona, Tucson declared a climate emergency declaration, which was largely due to the efforts of youth climate activists. I've also learned a lot more about how environmental and social justice issues intersect and now center both my activism and studies on environmental justice.