Using Data Science To Study Environmental Racism, Justice, And Policy

Guest post by Dr. Aunshul Rege, Temple University

This Success Story is a report on the results of the Northeast Big Data Innovation Hub’s 2020 Seed Fund program.

This project examined environmental injustice using a qualitative criminological lens. The project surveyed known case studies of environmental injustice in the United States to identify and rank harms along incidence and severity, and identify corresponding remediation processes, if any. Due to COVID-19, however, the team was unable to interview subject matter experts in the field.

The research team focused on the state of Pennsylvania, to provide a detailed and more manageable examination of environmental justice. The team filtered through the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Superfund Site National Priority List to identify site types, EPA site scores, contaminants, harms count, impact level, and whether the issue was reconciled using any specific procedures for the state of Pennsylvania. The team then intersected these with the datasets to identify poverty levels, racial and ethnic demographics, education backgrounds, and health issues. This intersection resulted in the creation of a dataset with 91 incidents identifying and ranking superfund sites and corresponding racial and health disparities across the state of Pennsylvania. The team can share this dataset with anyone who wishes to study the data, use it for their research, and/or use it to inform the creation of similar datasets for other states in the United States.  To reach out to the project team, please email Professor Aunshul Rege at

This project supported Ph.D. candidate Katorah Williams, who was instrumental in data collection and analysis as well as the dataset generation and maintenance.

Lead PI: Aunshul Rege (Temple University)

Anshul Rege

Aunshul Rege is an Associate Professor with the Department of Criminal Justice at Temple University, where she directs the Cybersecurity in Application, Research, and Education (CARE) Lab. She holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in Criminal Justice, an M.A. and B.A. in Criminology, and a B.Sc. in Computer Science. Her research, which examines the human, behavioral, and social aspects of cyberattacks and cybersecurity, has been funded by several NSF grants (CAREERCPSEAGERSaTC EDU) and Department of Energy. She is the organizer and host of the Social Engineering Event, which helps students get exposure to social engineering in a safe, fun, and ethical way. Dr. Rege serves on the Advisory Board for Raices CyberBlack Girls Hack, and Breaking Barriers Women in Cybersecurity.