DURHAM, N.C. – Jessica Levasseur, a doctoral student in environmental health at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, has been named to the 2020 cohort of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Health Policy Research Scholars (HPRS) leadership program.

Designed for doctoral students from historically marginalized backgrounds and underrepresented populations, the HPRS program brings together interdisciplinary teams of outstanding early-career scholars who work – individually and collectively – to advance policies that foster enhanced public health and equity.

As a member of the program’s newest cohort, Levasseur will focus on describing chemical exposure disparities in vulnerable populations in home and work environments.

She and her fellow scholars will receive annual stipends of up to $30,000 for up to four years and undergo intensive training in leadership, policy development, population health and health equity. Each scholar is also eligible to apply to a competitive dissertation grant of up to $10,000.

Levasseur earned a Master of Science degree in environmental health from the University of Washington in 2015, and a Bachelor of Arts in chemistry from Colby College in 2010. She has worked outside academia at a women’s health center in Central America, as a lab scientist at a pharmaceutical company, and as an environmental health consultant for the federal government, where her work included developing and maintaining exposure models for both residential chemical exposures and outdoor air pollution, as well as evaluating the human health effects and risks associated with particular chemicals and microbial toxins.

Her faculty advisor at the Nicholas School is Heather Stapleton, Ronie-Richele Garcia-Johnson Distinguished Professor of Environmental Chemistry.

Based in Princeton, N.J., the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is the United States’ largest philanthropy focused solely on health. It was founded in 1968 by the estate of Robert Wood Johnson II, who built the family firm Johnson & Johnson into the world’s largest health products maker.