Superfund Research Program

September 2022

Johnnye Lewis, Ph.D., head shot
Lewis’s areas of specialty include toxicology, metal mixtures, Indigenous environmental health, and community-partnered research. (Photo courtesy of Johnnye Lewis)

For nearly three decades, Johnnye Lewis, Ph.D., has advanced Native American health by combining basic research, population-level studies, clear science communication, and robust partnerships with tribes. Lewis directs the University of New Mexico SRP Center, where she uses a transdisciplinary team approach to tackle issues related to environmental justice and health disparities, which affect many Indigenous communities.

Lewis spoke with NIEHS and the National Toxicology Program Director Rick Woychik, Ph.D., about her efforts to address tribal health issues, effectively communicate findings, partner with communities in identifying research questions, and reduce exposures.

“Ultimately, our science relies on strong relationships with community partners. And those relationships are built on trust, communication, and humility on the part of scientists,” Lewis said. “By first listening to tribal members and understanding their needs, we can enhance our research and its impact, and empower communities with knowledge they need to improve their health.”

Read more in the NIEHS Environmental Factor Newsletter.