Skip to main content
URMC / Education / Graduate Education / URBest Blog / July 2017 / URBEST Trainees Become American Medical Writer Association Members

URBEST Trainees Become American Medical Writer Association Members

News Article by Tracey Baas

AMWA AdvertisementFor the April URBEST Career Story, our speaker was Elizabeth Schiavoni, founder of Life Sciences Writing Solutions LLC. Trainees were invited to participate in an essay-writing contest, where three essayists would be awarded an American Medical Writer Association (AMWA) Membership. The rules were straightforward, yet not easy. “Write a  ~500 word article, explaining how Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) budget cuts would affect your hometown or Rochester area and calling your audience to take action to protect EPA funding. The target audience of your article is a group of family members or neighbors, without scientific training or expertise, who are against government funding for environmental protection. You must not spend more than two hours researching, writing or editing your article. You must write your article at a seventh grade reading level, which you can judge using this assessment tool.” Who would Elizabeth select as the essay winners?

The top three EPA essays were EPA Cuts Would Be Felt Locally by Emma Grygotis, An EPA Budget Cut Is Not An Option by Debapratim Dutta and Shrinking the EPA: Who Will Protect Us by Sarah Latchney. Each trainee was awarded an AMWA Membership. Emma’s article was even picked up by the Democrat and Chronicle with the help of Susanne Pallo, public relations associate and science writer at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and Katrina Korfmacher, URBEST leader and Community Outreach and Engagement Core Director. Emma’s article appeared as a D&C guest essay.

Kayak ImageEPA Cuts Would Be Felt Locally by Emma Grygotis,

I live near Irondequoit Bay.  It’s a nice place to live. It’s a short drive to where I work at the University of Rochester, but I also get to enjoy Lake Ontario, and to treat my dog to regular walks through the nearby city park.

If you bike along the Lake Ontario Trail on a hot summer day, you will see the usual scenes of summer. There are happy beach-goers, fishers along the pier, people enjoying the sunshine. Once, I was lucky enough to see a bald eagle flying overhead. The Great Lakes bring both tourism and business to Rochester.

However, along parts of that drive, you will also be greeted by the smell of fresh sewage. Ontario Beach Park is frequently closed to swimmers for water quality issues. This is code for unsafe levels of bacteria in the water. Lake Ontario is where all of the waste of city life ends up.

We are often told that the role of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is to say “no.” Its regulations force companies to jump through unnecessary hoops, which in turn hurt American businesses and leave fewer jobs. This is simply not true. In fact, many of the EPA’s current projects help businesses in Rochester.

These programs include Brownfields grants, which provide funds for redeveloping former industrial land. Last year they were used to support “green” job training for Rochester workers. They also include the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), a $300 million dollar program that provides support to projects restoring the health of the great lakes. Braddock Bay Park in Greece was the site of one of these projects.

The proposed budget for 2018 cuts EPA funds by over 30%. This includes nearly eliminating the GLRI and Brownfields programs. It means the loss of projects that protect our lakes, our wildlife, and provide jobs in the Rochester area. These aren’t just luxuries. They’re core pieces of what make up our identities and livelihoods.

After all, we still have the bald eagle, a symbol of American pride, thanks to the work of the EPA.

Please join me in fighting for EPA funding. The easiest way to help is to call your elected representatives. You can look up yours by going to and clicking on “Find Your Lawmakers.”


An EPA Budget Cut Is Not An Option by Debapratim Dutta

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was formed in 1970. Its purpose is to protect human health. You may think all that EPA does is go on about global warming and endangered animals. But, most of the work that EPA does is actually focused on yours and your family’s health and safety. Health and safety laws that affect our everyday lives were written because EPA did some research and found out what is harmful for us. For example, we used to have lead in our paints. Lead can cause severe health damages. Thanks to EPA’s studies on lead poisoning, use of lead in paints in our homes and schools is banned now. Schools and hospitals used to use asbestos in walls and floors. Now we know asbestos can cause severe lung damage, even cancer. So, EPA has laws that protect us from breathing in asbestos.

Like the air quality inside our home, schools and offices, air quality outside is also very important. High levels of air pollution can create really bad living conditions. Just ask anyone living in a Chinese or Indian city. There, people have to wear masks outside every day to save their lungs. Can you imagine spending thousands of dollars to buy an air purifier for your home, just to breathe clean air? How would New York look if the Empire State building or One World Trade Centre were clouded by thick smog? That’s where the car emission and clean fuel standards come in.

Just like clean air, clean water is also equally important. The tap water in Rochester is clean enough to drink. Clean tap water is a luxury in a lot of other places around the world. Our water is drinkable because of strict rules. These also make sure that businesses and individuals are properly taking care of their wastes. If sewage or industrial chemicals get into lakes and rivers, it can contaminate the water supply to several cities. The Cuyahoga River in Ohio once caught fire because it got so polluted. Things like that don’t happen anymore.

We love going to the beach, but beaches can get dirty if not maintained properly. Human waste and industrial waste can get into the water. Beaches and oceans can get filled with trash. Toxic chemicals can get into the water, and a day at the beach can cause skin diseases. Sadly though, upholding all these regulations is not cheap. EPA spends a lot of the money it gets to make sure people are safe. If the EPA does not get the money to do its job, then our lives can get much worse. This country has a better quality of life compared to developing countries. But we should not take that quality of life for granted. So, reach out to your lawmakers. Let them know how much the EPA does to protect us. Let them know that a budget cut for the EPA is not an option for anyone who cares about this country.


EPA: Who Will Protect Us by Sarah Latchney

Imagine a scene at your beloved local park or lake. It could be Highland Park or Mendon Ponds Park or Letchworth State Park or any of the Finger Lakes. Now imagine that natural space void of towering trees with thick trunks and lush leaves. See it as a space emptied of children playing where kayakers paddle through murky water and meadows of grass once a vibrant green are now brown, dry and limp. Picture a place where birds are damaged by disease and the air is polluted with smog so thick that outdoor recreation is a threat to health.

This scene could become reality as the new federal budget proposal calls for deep and wide cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The core mission of the EPA is “to protect human health and the environment.” By establishing environmental protections, the EPA directly improves the quality of life for all Americans. The proposed 31 percent reduction puts at risk programs that are in place to protect us from environmental hazards. Hazards that threaten our health and quality of life.

The proposed budget cuts will result in a dirtier and more harmful environment. Our natural spaces will become less majestic. The cuts will roll back decades of progress cleaning up the air and the water and the native landscapes that surround us. The cuts will slash cleanup efforts for the many lakes in our backyard. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative will be gone. Climate change research will be extinguished. It will send us back to the days of choking smog and rampant pollution. This downgrade in environmental protection will have long term and negative health, economic and quality of life impacts on all Americans. It will be especially harmful to children and low-income communities.

Public health projects essential for Upstate New York will also be in danger. Job training opportunities for underemployed residents will be closed. Brownfield grants to clean up properties contaminated with chemicals will be defunded. Funding for lead, mold, and asbestos clean up will be cut. Diesel emission standards will be reduced.

It is not yet clear if the proposed cuts will become reality. It is clear they can cause harm to our environment. It is clear that they can cause harm to the well being of all Americans. The proposed EPA budget reflects a gross disregard for our health and the planet on which we live.

The EPA has protected us from harm for almost fifty years. We must act now so it can protect us for another fifty years. We should not reduce environmental protections. We should support protections that are already in place. We should support projects aimed at reducing harmful exposure and increasing toxic cleanup. We should support projects that ensure access to clean water, clean air, safe food and a habitable climate. Each of us must be a champion for the environment. Each of us must act now for the future health of our planet.

Tracey Baas | 7/13/2017

You may also like

No related posts found.