Fellow Story

Shankar selected as UCLA Health Equity Challenge finalist

Fellow(s): Monika Shankar

Monika Shankar has been selected as a 2024 UCLA Health Equity Challenge finalist for her citizen scientist training program in Watts to transform members of the community into “environmental agents of change.” 

The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research’s Health Equity Challenge invites UCLA graduate students to develop “innovative community-based solutions to improve health equity in California” in partnership with a local community organization. Finalists receive a $2,500 stipend and 15 weeks of mentorship, and up to four winners will receive “an additional $2,500 stipend and the community organization will receive up to $50,000 to implement the project.”

Monika’s graduate work is “situated at the intersection of environmental health and justice, and urban planning, with a particular emphasis on advancing research and developing policy strategies to address the presence of stationary sources of pollution in vulnerable communities.” 

She is committed to working with low-income communities and communities of color in Los Angeles, “to identify viable environmental and land use based strategies to mitigate harm to human health and the environment. Her approach is interdisciplinary and rooted in community co-powerment and multi-stakeholder engagement.” 

“I have committed to finding solutions to the challenge of incompatible land uses for over a decade, which is a serious challenge that disproportionately afflicts low-income communities and communities of color,” she says. “I am thrilled to be a part of the Health Equity Challenge because it gives me the opportunity to innovatively apply my research in collaboration with expert community organizers and skilled residents. Through my proposed Citizen Science training program, I hope to build the capacity of Watts residents to identify and address stationary sources in their community, with the long-term goal of moving the needle on health inequities.”

Congratulations on your selection as a finalist, Monika! Winners will be announced in early June 2024.