Early Childhood Scientific Council on Equity and the Environment

Established in 2023, the Early Childhood Scientific Council on Equity and the Environment (ECSCEE) at the Harvard Center on the Developing Child is a multi-disciplinary, cross-organizational collaboration committed to improving our understanding of how influences from the broader environment affect early childhood development. In particular, the ECSCEE aims to analyze, synthesize, and communicate emerging science around the role of the built and natural environments in shaping the communities where families are raising young children. This includes the ways that systemic racism has influenced historic and current policies and practices that have resulted in the inequitable distribution of risk and opportunity across communities.

The ECSCEE aims to leverage both scientific and community-informed perspectives to help policymakers and other leaders in a range of sectors understand and mobilize around a prenatal and early childhood perspective that is rooted in working toward “fairness of place” for all children, with particular attention to communities of color and people living in poverty. This includes sectors like urban planning, environmental protection, housing, and climate change, that have not previously been considered as key actors in the early childhood ecosystem, and whose actions (or inaction) have significant impacts on the early foundations of development and health.

Council Members

The ECSCEE’s membership includes leading practitioners, researchers, and scientists representing the fields of neurobiology, psychological anthropology, pediatric medicine, global health, climate change, environmental health, public health, and social epidemiology.

Lindsey C. Burghardt, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP

Lindsey Burghardt, MD, MPH, FAAP, is the Chief Science Officer at the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University and a practicing pediatrician. At the Center, she identifies emerging areas of scientific interest and knowledge to create the Center’s scientific agenda. Her areas of expertise include the impact of the built and natural environments on young children, including the ways in which our changing climate impacts health and development. Lindsey is the director of the ECSCEE and works closely with the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. With these groups, she works to build a multidisciplinary scientific understanding of early childhood and translate that understanding for a variety of audiences, including policymakers, practitioners, and the private sector. Lindsey earned her medical degree from Yale University School of Medicine and completed her pediatric residency at Children’s Hospital Colorado, followed by a fellowship in pediatric emergency medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital. She completed her Masters in Public Health in Health Policy and Management at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Lindsey is a board member of the Massachusetts Chapter of the AAP and a former executive committee member of the AAP’s Council on Early Childhood.

View Lindsey C. Burghardt, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP’s Full Bio

Nathaniel Harnett, PhD

Nathaniel Harnett, PhD, is Director of the Neurobiology of Affective and Traumatic Experiences Laboratory at McLean Hospital and an Assistant Professor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Harnett’s research is focused on understanding the neurobiological mechanisms that mediate susceptibility to trauma and stress related disorders. His lab uses multimodal neuroimaging, psychophysiology, and behavioral assessments to probe cognitive-affective function in individuals exposed to trauma to understand an individual’s potential to later develop posttraumatic stress disorder. In addition, he investigates how structural inequities throughout development produce differing neural responses to trauma and how these factors may reinforce racial disparities in mental health. Ultimately, the goal of this research is to develop predictive and preventative neuroscience-based techniques to reduce the prevalence of trauma and stress-related disorders. Dr. Harnett’s research has been funded by the Ford Foundation, NINDS, NIMH, and the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation among others. His research has been published in several journals including The American Journal of Psychiatry, JAMA Psychiatry, Biological Psychiatry, Neuropsychopharmacology, and NeuroImage.

Nat Kendall-Taylor, PhD

Nat Kendall-Taylor, PhD, is chief executive officer at the FrameWorks Institute, a research think tank in Washington, DC. He leads a multi-disciplinary team in conducting research on public understanding and framing of social issues and supporting nonprofit organizations to implement findings. A psychological anthropologist, Nat publishes widely on communications research in the popular and professional press and lectures frequently in the United States and abroad. He is a senior fellow at the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, a visiting professor at the Child Study Center at Yale School of Medicine, and a fellow at the British-American Project.

Alison G. Lee, MD MS

Alison G. Lee, MD MS is Associate Professor of Medicine with tenure and Associate Division Chief in the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine in the Department of Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Dr. Lee also holds joint appointments in the Departments of Pediatrics and Global Health. Dr. Lee is the Chair of the American Thoracic Society’s (ATS) Environmental Health Policy Committee, where she advises the ATS Executive Committee and Board of Directors on issues of policy importance and priorities and leads the committee in monitoring and responding to state, federal and international environmental health policy legislation regulating, for example, air quality. Dr. Lee is an NIH-funded physician-scientist with transdisciplinary training and expertise in environmental health as well as air pollution measurement and mechanisms applied to environment health studies. Dr. Lee’s research considers how environmental exposures during critical windows of exposure program chronic disease risk over the life course. Dr. Lee earned an ScB in Biology from Brown University, an MD from the University of Massachusetts Medical School and an MS in Epidemiology from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. Dr. Lee completed her training in pulmonary and critical care medicine at Columbia Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center.

Kari Nadeau, MD, PhD

Kari Nadeau, MD, PhD, is the Chair of the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard School of Public Health and John Rock Professor of Climate and Population Studies. She practices Allergy, Asthma, Immunology in children and adults. She has published over 400+ papers, many in the field of climate change and health. Dr. Nadeau, with a team of individuals and patients and families, has been able to help major progress and impact in the clinical fields of immunology, infection, asthma and allergy. Dr. Nadeau is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and the U.S. EPA Children’s Health Protection Committee. For more than 30 years, she has devoted herself to understanding how environmental and genetic factors affect the risk of developing allergies and asthma, especially wildfire-induced air pollution. Her laboratory has been studying air pollution and wildfire effects on children and adults, including wildland firefighters. Many of the health issues involving individuals and the public are increasing because of global warming, sustainability practices, and extreme weather conditions. She oversees a team working on air pollution and wildfire research along with a multidisciplinary group of community leaders, firefighters, engineers, scientists, lawyers, and policy makers. Dr. Nadeau was appointed as a member of the U.S. Federal Wildfire Commission in 2022. Dr. Nadeau earned her MD/PhD from Harvard Medical School in 1995, completing her doctoral work in biochemistry and immunology, followed by a pediatric internship and residency at Boston Children’s Hospital (1995-1997). She moved to California for a fellowship in the Stanford-UCSF Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology Program (2003-2006), joining the Stanford Medical School faculty as an instructor, followed by promotions to assistant professor (2008), associate professor (2011), and professor (2015).

Devon Payne-Sturges, DrPH

Devon Payne-Sturges, DrPH, is an Associate Professor with the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health at the University of Maryland, School of Public Health. She also holds a joint appointment in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and with the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University of Maryland Baltimore School of Medicine. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Maryland (UMD), Payne-Sturges served as Assistant Commissioner for Environmental Health with the Baltimore City Health Department then later as the Assistant Center Director for Human Health with U.S. EPA’s National Center for Environmental Research where she focused on biomonitoring for policy analysis, cumulative risk assessment, health impact assessment, environmental health indicator development, children’s environmental health and environmental health of minority populations. She has worked with numerous stakeholders, including relevant state and federal agencies and NGOs in the fields of environmental and occupational health. Her research focuses on racial and economic disparities in exposures to environmental contaminants and associated health risks with the aim of improving the science our society uses to make decisions about environmental policies that impact the health of communities and populations, especially vulnerable, low income and minority populations. She is currently conducting research applying systems modeling to better understand the links between structural racism, cumulative environmental exposures and neurodevelopment health outcomes among children and respiratory health outcomes among migrant farmworkers. Dr. Payne-Sturges’ research has been supported with funding from NIEHS (K01 and R01), the Environmental Defense Fund, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and UMD’s VPR. Dr. Payne-Sturges earned her MPH and Doctor of Public Health degrees in environmental health sciences from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Natalie Slopen, ScD

Natalie Slopen, ScD, is an Assistant Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. As a social epidemiologist, her research focuses on social and contextual factors that shape childhood development and inequities in health. The overarching goal of her research is to identify processes and conditions that can be targeted by intervention programs and social policies to reduce health disparities and promote health across the life course. Dr. Slopen completed her doctoral training in social epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University.

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