A Student's Journey

A Student's Journey is a year long program with a 5 week on campus experience at the University of Arizona for participating Tohono O'odham Community College (TOCC) students.

"Ñia, Oya G T-Ttacui Am Hab E-Ju:" "Our Dream Fulfilled"


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Asthma

Asthma and related allergic diseases are two conditions that plague many Americans across the Southwest. Native Americans across the desert landscape have suffered from these ailments in disproportionate amounts. Understanding how particular environments can either contribute to, or offer protection from asthma offer the promise of improving treatment for asthma and allergy patients.


Dust Storms

Monsoon storms send huge walls of dust across parts of Arizona, sometimes snarling traffic on roadways and knocking out power. There could be hidden health impacts for millions of people living in the state's dust zone as well. These dust storms carry a noxious mix of fungi, heavy metals from pollutants, chemicals and bacteria that could lead to cardiovascular and eye disease, and other illnesses.  These large dust storms are often called haboobs and in the local Native American communities they are called jegos (joo-goes).


UV Exposure

SWEHSC researchers have discovered some rather special properties in annatto, the natural food additive with properties that can block the development of certain skin cancer cells in mice.

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Tribal Communities

Native American reservation land comprises more than 25% of the state of Arizona, which is home to 22 distinct tribes and one of the largest percentages of Native Americans in the United States.

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Gold King Mine

In August 2015, an estimated 3 million gallons of acid water and heavy metals spilled from the Gold King Mine into Colorado's Animas River, eventually flowing into the San Juan River, the primary source of irrigation for Navajo Nation farmers. The spill was accidentally caused by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency while trying to prevent leakage of toxic materials.

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Mine Tailings

Tailings are the mounds of crushed rock, mixed with trace amounts of chemicals, that remain after ore is processed. Mine tailings are composed of fine particles that can easily be blown around in dust storms and can lead to contaminated well water.


Air Pollution

Air pollution is a mixture of solid particles and gases in the air. Car emissions, chemicals from factories, dust, pollen and mold spores may be suspended as particles. Some air pollutants are poisonous, and inhaling them can increase the chance of having health problems. Air pollution isn't just outside - the air inside buildings can also be polluted and affect your health.

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UV Exposure

Arizona has one of the highest incidence rates of skin cancer, the most prevalent cancer, in the United States.

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KEYS Program

​The KEYS internship provides hands-on research opportunities to talented students from diverse backgrounds. The program concludes with the KEYS Research Showcase, where students present their results to their families, UA scientists, and program sponsors.

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Smoke Exposure

Cancer is a leading cause of death among firefighters, who are exposed to cancer-causing chemicals through both inhalation and skin absorption. Measuring these exposures and determining the mechanisms by which they cause cancer are essential steps in learning how to reduce cancer risk in firefighters. 

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Environmental Impact on Reproductive Health

The adverse effects of environmental exposures on the reproductive system have been recognized as significant threat to human health.   The center now counts with expertise in descriptive and mechanistic reproductive toxicology (Craig) and the reproductive and gynecological health epidemiology (Farland).

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Cellular Imaging

The Cellular Imaging Resource provides SWEHSC members and their labs with access to a number of powerful microscopes and image analysis capabilities. The Resource staff provides hands-on assistance with experimental design, training, troubleshooting, and analysis.

More about the Cellular Imaging Resource.


Steps 2 STEM

The Steps 2 STEM Summer Research Internship is a 4-week research experience for students participating in the Pima County JTED's Bioscience and Health Science programs.

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Dietary Arsenic

Arsenic may be found in many foods due to absorption through the soil and water. 

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IHSFC Human Populations and Exposure Resource

The IHSFC Human Populations and Exposure Resource (HPER) leverages SWEHSC human studies and exposure assessment experts to provide a central resource for researchers conducting environmental health studies.

To learn more about the IHSFC HPER click here


  • AZ HEROES is a collaborative project between the AZ HEROS (Arizona Healthcare, Emergency Response, and Other Essental workers Surveillance) Study at the University of Arizona and Tribal Communities that are concerned for the wellbeing of their essential worker's health related to getting or re-getting COVID-19. Visit our webpage here
  • The Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center (SWEHSC) is a collaborative and interdisciplinary research center, which is actively investigating the health effects of environmental agents and serving as a resource for the community. Welcome message from our Center Director.
  • The SWEHSC offers Pilot Project grants twice per year. To get more information go to the Pilot Projects page. Contact Dean Billheimer, Deputy Director for more information.