In her new leadership role as a Trustee, Mozhgon sees her position as “a way to continue the development of environmental education programs on reconciliation and justice, and to expand beyond our traditional ideas of environmentalism.”
Au Sable has long been a community that has included distinguished scientists specializing in ecology, natural history, fish and wildlife management, conservation biology, and other aspects of field-oriented biological investigation, but what about the effects of the environment on people and the communities in which they live? This is the realm of “public” health, an essential aspect of creation care. Appreciating the need, as well as the lack of representation, in this vital element of stewardship, the Au Sable Institute welcomes and celebrates the addition and election of Dr. Mozhgon Rajaee, a specialist in public environmental health, as a new trustee in this year of 2018.
Long before she was Dr. Rajaee, Mozhgon was already establishing a strong and lasting relationship with the Au Sable Institute. Mozhgon grew up in a Christian household and chose to further explore and strengthen her faith by attending a Christian college, Spring Arbor University in Spring Arbor, Michigan, where she majored in biology with a concentration in global studies. Contributing to her degree completion, and her knowledge of creation care, were classes Mozhgon took at Au Sable in 2006 while still a student at Spring Arbor. Following completion of her Bachelor’s degree in 2007, Mozhgon applied and expanded her knowledge of and love for outdoor education by serving as a Naturalist Educator at Mission Springs Outdoor Education in Scotts Valley, California over the next year. In 2009, she went back to school as a graduate student and research assistant at the University of Michigan, earning two Masters degrees in the space of three years, one a Master of Science (MS) in Environmental Science and the other a Master of Public Health (MPH) in Environmental Health Sciences.
Entering a Ph.D. program at U of M in Environmental Health Sciences, Mozhgon’s studies took her to Ghana, where she studied the occupational health effects and hazards of small-scale gold mining focusing especially on mercury exposure and respiratory health. Mozhgon observed firsthand the burdens of economic oppression and hazardous working conditions, seeing not only their detrimental effects on health, but also on the credibility of Christian witness to address these conditions. Throughout her graduate career in both Master’s and PhD programs, Mozhgon continued to grow in her relationship to Au Sable through participation in the Au Sable Graduate Fellows Program, a mentoring program established by the Institute to help nurture and integrate faith in Christian grad students, mainly in the sciences, studying at public state universities.
Appointed to the faculty of Oakland University (Michigan) in 2015 as an Assistant Professor of Health Sciences, Mozhgon teaches courses in Environmental Health Sciences, Environmental Justice, and Public Health. Mozhgon’s research is grounded in her concern for environmental justice. A visiting Assistant Professor in Environmental Health and Justice at Duke University (North Carolina), Mozhgon is pursuing this focus through studies of workplace-related issues of environmental justice and environmental health with current studies on stressors and health outcomes associated with public school teachers. An active member and leader in her local church, Mozhgon has formerly served as an Elder. As the daughter of an Iranian immigrant and a US-born American, Mozhgon brings a unique perspective to the Au Sable Board that is concerned with both local and global environmental health. In her new leadership role as a Trustee, Mozhgon sees her position as “a way to continue the development of environmental education programs on reconciliation and justice, and to expand beyond our traditional ideas of environmentalism.”
Congratulations on your appointment, Mozhgon! Welcome to the Au Sable Board of Trustees!