Human Subjects and Population Exposure Resource

Human studies are a fundamental component of translational environmental health research, but their unique challenges present a formidable barrier to inexperienced investigators. The HSPER leverages SWEHSC human studies and exposure assessment experts to provide a central resource for researchers conducting environmental health studies. Key functions of HSPER are to identify local government, health, cultural, or thought leaders in Southwest communities to better engage participants and to provide ‘boots on the ground’ assistance to identify, recruit, and enroll research participants through collaborations with community health centers and organizations. In addition, HSPER provides scientific guidance and practical assistance with methodologies for exposure estimation and measurement. These include exposure modeling, GIS techniques, and sampling of environmental media (e.g. air, water, dust, soil) and human biomarkers. This resource: 1) provides strategies for community engagement to ensure stakeholder buy-in and participant recruitment; and 2) provides scientific expertise and experienced personnel to design and implement exposure and health assessment methods.

HSPER provides technical service to center investigators, including Pilot Projects, requiring support in study design and development, methodology related to sample collection, and development and implementation of computational exposure models. Further, HSPER helps identify important exposure concepts that promote an understanding of exposure science for use in the translation of results to the community by the SWEHSC Community Engagement Core. Mentoring and guidance on technical aspects of projects important to Southwestern underserved populations will build trust and technical skill capacity among community scientists and leaders and promote environmental health literacy among community members. The HSPER interacts directly with community members through training events, teach-ins, sampling consultations, identification of analytic laboratories, interpretation of data, and intervention development and implementation. In this regard, the resource is involved in building community capacity among diverse populations in the Southwest to reduce environmental health disparities.

PROJECT CONSULT : The IHS Pathway to Project Support

The HSPER has developed a structured approach to providing assistance for projects receiving subsidized support, to ensure that the best delivery of support results in successful research outcomes. You can contact HSPER Director Dr. Paloma Beamer, by calling (520) 626-0006 or click here to send her an email.


Paloma Beamer, PhD is the leader of HSPER and is responsible for day-to-day operations. She is an Associate Professor of Environmental Health, PI of the NIEHS funded “El Trabajo no te Debe Dañar: Reduction of Hazardous Exposures in Small Businesses through a Community Health Worker Intervention” and co-Investigator of “Investigating linkages between arsenic exposure, diabetes, and COVID-19 infections and risks on the Navajo Nation”. Dr. Beamer is fully bilingual (Spanish) and bicultural and experienced in exposure modeling and assessment, particularly with regard to children. An engineer-by-training, she is also knowledgeable in the design and implementation of interventions for reducing exposures. She has collected air, water, soil, dust, urine, blood, toenails, and breast milk, which have been analyzed for microorganisms, pesticides, metals, solvents, and traffic-related pollutants. She has substantial experience with Arizona’s rural, Latinx, and Native American populations and with reporting study results back to these communities in a culturally appropriate manner. She is a past President of the International Society of Exposure Science, an Associate Editor of Environmental Health Perspectives and is the Health Expert on the Environmental Quality Advisory Committee for Pima County.