Cysteine amino acid

Our leadership & membership

We’re global leaders in environmental health sciences research who aim to make a difference in the well-being of California’s diverse communities. We work with local groups and governments to identify new approaches in science and develop real-world solutions to the environment’s most challenging health problems. From innovative toxicological studies on Alzheimer’s to pioneering research on the epigenetics of autism, we’re front and center breaking new ground in understanding how the environment interacts with human health.

EHSC Leadership

Irva Hertz-Picciotto Profile Picture

Irva Hertz-Picciotto, PhD

Areas of expertise

  • Autism
  • Air pollution
  • Community health
  • COVID-19
  • Occupational health
  • Pesticides
  • Wildfires

Irva Hertz-Picciotto is an environmental epidemiologist studying how exposure to substances like metals, pesticides, air pollutants and endocrine disruptors interact with nutrition, genetics and social factors, especially during pregnancy and early child development.

Renowned for her pioneering expertise on environmental factors linked to autism, she’s produced seminal papers on the role exposure to pesticides, traffic-related air pollution, low folic acid intake and untreated fever during pregnancy have on the development of autism in children. Read more about Irva Hertz- Picciotto.


Kent Pinkerton Profile Picture

Kent Pinkerton, PhD

Areas of expertise

  • Air pollution
  • Asthma
  • E-Cigarettes
  • Cardiorespiratory physiology
  • Comparative physiology
  • Immunology
  • Nanomaterials

Kent Pinkerton, PhD is a Professor of Pediatrics in the School of Medicine and Anatomy, Physiology and Cell Biology in the School of Veterinary Medicine. An expert on air pollution, Dr. Pinkerton researches how vapors, gases, particles and fibers change the way respiratory, cardiovascular and neurological cells develop and function.

Dr. Pinkerton’s experiments on air pollution injury, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in animal models are widely known and fundamental in understanding the complex interplay between biological systems and the environment. Read more about Kent Pinkerton.


Deborah Bennett Profile Picture

Deborah Bennett, PhD

Areas of expertise

  • Air pollution
  • Consumer product exposure
  • Indoor environments
  • Pesticides
  • Semi-volatile organic compounds
  • Volatile organic compounds

Deborah Bennett, PhD is an exposure scientist whose research both measures and models chemicals in dust, air and consumer products.

Dr. Bennett studies volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds (VOCs and SVOCs) like plasticizers, electronics, cosmetics, flame retardants, pesticides and particulate matter. Working closely with epidemiologists and toxicologists, she researches how chemicals make their way into the body and set off biological reactions that lead to certain diseases and conditions, from asthma to autism. Read more about Deborah Bennett.


Nicholas Kenyon Profile Picture

Nicholas Kenyon, MD

Areas of expertise

  • Airway diseases
  • Asthma
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Metabolomics
  • Pulmonary and critical care medicine
  • Sepsis

Nicholas Kenyon, MD is a physician, scientist and expert on diseases affecting the airways and lungs. As Division Chief of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at UC Davis Health, Dr. Kenyon oversees faculty, staff and fellows providing care and conducting research on conditions like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension and more. As a clinician, Dr. Kenyon specializes in treating patients with severe or complex asthma who don’t respond well to standard therapies.

Dr. Kenyon’s current research focus is on the relationship between asthma, L-arginine and nitric oxide. L-arginine is an amino acid that supplements nitric oxide, a gas and powerful neurotransmitter that relaxes and opens up blood vessels and airways to the lungs. L-arginine and nitric oxide play important roles in controlling lung inflammation and asthma. Read more about Nicholas Kenyon.


Tanya Khemet Taiwo Profile Picture

Tanya Khemet Taiwo, PhD

Areas of expertise

  • Autism
  • Community-engaged research
  • Environmental justice policy
  • Epidemiology
  • Health disparities

Tanya Khemet Taiwo, PhD is co-director of the Community Engagement Core at the UC Davis Environmental Health Sciences Center. Dr. Khemet Taiwo is a newly minted PhD graduate in epidemiology from UC Davis, who studied how socioeconomic and psychological stress in moms-to-be affected the health of their babies.

Dr. Khemet Taiwo brings with her an expertise in women’s and children’s health from decades of experience working as a licensed midwife. As a midwife, Khemet Taiwo co-founded a network of women’s health clinics in medically underserved areas of Sacramento, California. To address the multi-faceted needs of low-income women and their children, the clinics provided compassionate care through programs to prevent abuse and foster family cohesiveness. They were the only prenatal providers in this community committed to a model of respectful, preventative care that was both empowering and collaborative. Read more about Tanya Khemet Taiwo.


Jonathan London Profile Picture

Jonathan London, PhD

Areas of expertise

  • Community-engaged research
  • Environmental justice policy
  • Health disparities
  • Rural community development
  • Regional equity
  • Social movements
  • Socio-spatial methodology

Jonathan K. London, PhD is an expert in participatory research, rural community development and community-engaged planning. He connects researchers to California’s rural communities by focusing on environmental justice issues.

Dr. London tackles a range of problems from collaboration around forest management in the Sierra Nevada to pollution of drinking water in the state’s agricultural heartland.

He uses engaged scholarship to help both the university and its community partners learn and benefit from working together. Dr. London’s research explores: How social movements use their grassroots, legal and scientific resources to mobilize for environmental justice; the complexities of conflict and collaboration between leaders in advocacy, policy and research; and how environmental hazards are related to race and socio-economic factors in certain populations and places. Read more about Jonathan London.

Anthony Wexler Profile Picture

Anthony Wexler, PhD

Areas of expertise

  • Aerosol science
  • Air pollution
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Biomedical transport
  • Climate adaptation
  • Fluid mechanics
  • Thermodynamics
  • Wildfires

Anthony Wexler, PhD is a research scientist who measures and models atmospheric aerosols related to urban smog, human health and global warming. His engineering background is the foundation for his understanding of the body’s physiological systems.

Dr. Wexler’s work focuses on the ways air pollution travels through the atmosphere to airways and affects different parts of the body. He uses experiments, crunches numbers and takes into account theories in physics to do his research.

The Extended Aerosol Inorganics Model (E-AIM) is among Dr. Wexler’s many innovative accomplishments, which he developed in collaboration with Dr. Simon Clegg at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom. This online model is the gold standard for aerosol thermodynamics and runs over 100,000 calculations each year for scientists worldwide. Read more about Anthony Wexler.


Pam Lein Profile Picture

Pamela Lein, PhD

Areas of expertise

  • Autism
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Behavioral physiology
  • Cellular physiology
  • Molecular physiology
  • Neurophysiology
  • Neurotoxicology

Pamela Lein, PhD is a neurotoxicologist and developmental neurobiologist who studies the interaction between genes and environment that can lead to a variety of complex disorders from asthma to autism and Alzheimer’s.

Dr. Lein’s work focuses on the way environmental stressors like pesticides and near-roadway exposures—which include car exhaust and particles from tire wear and tear—can both change the structure of nerve cells and disrupt how they communicate with each other and with other tissues throughout the body. Read more about Pamela Lein.

Bill Lasley Profile Picture

Bill Lasley, PhD

Areas of expertise

  • Early pregnancy loss
  • Healthy aging
  • Reproductive toxicology
  • Women's health

Read more about Bill Lasley.

Isaac Pessah Profile Picture

Isaac Pessah, PhD

Areas of expertise

  • Molecular and cellular signaling
  • Neurodevelopment
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
  • Toxicology

Read more about Isaac Pessah.

Marc Schenker Profile Picture

Marc Schenker, MD

Areas of expertise

  • Dust
  • Heat
  • Occupational health
  • Pesticides

Read more about Marc Schenker.

Rebecca Schmidt Profile Picture

Rebecca Schmidt, PhD

Areas of expertise

  • Autism
  • COVID-19
  • Epigenetics
  • Molecular epidemiology
  • Wildfires

Read more about Rebecca Schmidt.

Catherine VandeVoort Profile Picture

Catherine VandeVoort, PhD

Areas of expertise

  • Bisphenol A
  • Male and female reproduction
  • Epigenetics
  • Toxicology

Read more about Catherine VandeVoort.

Judy Van de Water Profile Picture

Judy Van de Water, PhD

Areas of expertise

  • Allergies
  • Autism
  • Immune system
  • Neurodevelopment
  • Rheumatology

Read more about Judy Van de Water.

Laura Van Winkle Profile Picture

Laura van Winkle, PhD

Areas of expertise

  • Nanomaterials
  • Toxicology
  • Lungs

Read more about Laura Van Winkle.

Christoph Vogel Profile Picture

Christoph Vogel, PhD

Areas of expertise

  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Allergy
  • Asthma
  • Cancer
  • Air pollution
  • Toxicology

Read more about Christoph Vogel.


    Timothy Albertson, MD, MPH, PhD
    Nick Anderson, PhD
    Paul Ashwood, PhD
    Robert Berman, PhD
    Cristina Davis, PhD
    Ann Dillner, PhD
    Mari Golub, PhD
    Peter Havel, DVM, PhD
    Kyoungmi Kim, PhD
    Michael Kleeman, PhD
    Michele LaMerrill, PhD
    Charles Lesher, PhD
    Janine LaSalle, PhD
    Lisa Miller, PhD
    Tran Nguyen, PhD
    Julie Rainwater, PhD
    Christian Sandrock, MD, MPH, FCCP
    Edward Schelegle, PhD
    Michael Schivo, MD
    Jill Silverman, PhD
    Tony Simon, PhD
    Marjorie Solomon, PhD
    Kimber Stanhope, PhD
    Christine Stewart, PhD
    Fern Tablin, PhD, VMD
    Ameer Taha
    Cheryl Walker, MD
    Andrew Whitehead, PhD
    Machelle Wilson, PhD
    Thomas Young, PhD
    Amir Zeki, MD