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Partnership with the Marian Cheek Jackson Center for Saving and Making History

See more about the Marian Cheek Jackson Center for Saving and Making History here. 



Forever Chemicals in North Carolina: A Story Archive

Project Leaders: Dr. Courtney Rivard (DLC lab) and Dr. Jordynn Jack (HHIVE lab)

North Carolina’s industrial and military endeavors have led to high levels of per and
polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in our water systems, particularly in the Cape Fear
watershed, which extends into 26 counties in North Carolina. While researchers at UNC have
studied PFAS contamination and remediation efforts from a scientific perspective, we lack
humanistic research that examines how individuals make sense of healthcare experiences that
could be linked to PFAS. To address this gap, the HHIVE Lab and the Digital Literacy and
Communication (DLC) Lab, both housed in the Department of English and Comparative
Literature, have created a collaborative research project to conduct oral history interviews with
North Carolinians who believe they have been affected by PFAS.

This project is supported by a Carolina Humanities for the Public Good grant.

Our research team includes three graduate students who will partner with three undergraduate
students to conduct oral histories and develop humanitiesfocused data analysis methods to
synthesize and interpret our findings. Our team reflects interdisciplinary strengths in health
humanities, environmental humanities, public health, and digital humanities. The team

  • Neha Bollam (Undergraduate majoring in Public Health)
  • Claire Burke (Undergraduate with a double major in English & Comparative Literature
    and Biology, with a minor in Neuroscience)
  • Laura Crook (MA student in Literature, Medicine, and Culture)
  • Sejal Mahendru (PhD student in English and Comparative Literature)
  • Carmen Pharr (MA student in Literature, Medicine, and Culture)
  • Zoe Ziade (Undergraduate double majoring in Business and Psychology with a minor
    in Data Science)

Our goal is to grow this project such that hundreds of stories can be collected and housed on a
publicfacing website that will showcase North Carolinians’ experiences regarding PFAS and
water quality in our state.

See more about the HHIVE Lab here.