Monika Shankar is a Ph.D. candidate in environmental health sciences at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. She graduated with a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the Luskin School of Public Affairs at the University of California Los Angeles in June 2021, with a focused concentration in environmental analysis and policy. Her graduate and professional work is situated at the intersection of environmental health and justice, and urban planning, with a particular emphasis advancing research and developing policy strategies to address the presence of stationary sources of pollution in vulnerable communities. In Los Angeles, the challenge of incompatible land uses — the siting of hazardous uses of land near sensitive populations — primarily impacts the region’s low-income communities and communities of color. Monika is committed to working with these communities, alongside advocates and policy makers, to identify viable environmental and land use based strategies to mitigate harm to human health and the environment. Her approach is interdisciplinary, and rooted in community co-empowerment and multi-stakeholder engagement.
While pursuing her graduate studies, Monika continues to work with Physicians for Social Responsibility-LA (PSR-LA), which she joined in 2013. As a senior program manager, she is responsible for strategically guiding the organization’s work on air quality, land use and health, focusing especially on the implementation of the AB 617 Air Quality Project and the 500 Feet Initiative. During her tenure at PSR-LA, she served on the steering committee of ClimatePlan and the Jordan Downs Environmental Justice Coalition, and became a fellow at the Reach the Decision Makers Fellowship Program. Monika hopes to continue working within her existing network while cultivating new partnerships, with the goal of advancing solutions rooted in justice and equity that improve environmental health conditions across Los Angeles.