Dr. Zhao Dong is currently doing research and managing projects for the Hoffman Program at our Center, with regard to patterns and health effects of chemical exposures. She is also the program coordinator at Harvard for the Enwei project in Chengdu, China. With her scientific background and expertise in the aquatic environment, Zhao is interested in the health effects and benefits of water elements, or blue space, within the scope of biophilic designs. She is particularly curious about what roles the waterscapes play in shaping and interacting with people’s health and how the effects might differ between urban/rural settings and among various subpopulations.
Zhao’s past research has focused on the fate, transport, and exposure assessment of contaminants, especially metals, in the aquatic environment. For her doctoral thesis, Zhao developed and validated an equilibrium-based in-situ passive sampler, for simultaneous determination of multiple free metal ions, the most bioavailable and toxic form of metals in aquatic systems. Her post-doctoral research focused on mercury exposure through fish consumption in a rural inland community in the South Central United States. She had also investigated emerging contaminants and published on prioritization of the environmental risk of prescription pharmaceuticals. In addition, Zhao had experience on community-based participatory research projects, and co-taught a graduate course at Harvard on various scientific topics related to water pollution.
Zhao received both her Master and Doctor of Science degrees from the Department of Environmental Health at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. She is originally from China and grew up in Yichang, Hubei Province, where large hydropower projects like the Three Gorges Dam had deeply impacted both local ecosystems and residents, which had an early influence on her research interest. She later went to Nankai University (Tianjin, China) for her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science.