Profiles of Americans with Disabilities at EPA: Elizabeth “Jo” Klein
Elizabeth “Jo” Klein
Oak Ridge Associated Universities Student Service Contractor
U.S. EPA, NHEERL,
Environmental Public Health Division, Epidemiology Branch
Where were you born?
I was born in Tucson, AZ but grew up in Sanford, NC.
What is your highest level of education? What was your major?
I went to college at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) for a BS in Biology. I’m working on a Master’s degree in Library and Information Studies at UNCG now, and plan to get another Master’s in Wildlife Ecology in the near future.
What brought you to EPA?
I wanted to be involved in ecology and environmental research; living in Maryland in the Chesapeake Bay area and seeing the differences between polluted and non-polluted areas of the Susquehanna River every day, as well as experiencing the effects of climate change on high-elevation alpine meadow ecosystems as an undergraduate researcher at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Colorado really cemented my desire to work to improve environmental health.
What kind of work do you do at EPA?
I’m a student services contractor with the Epidemiology Branch and I help with lab cleanup and organization to make sure our research runs smoothly, as well as run immunoassays and help analyze data using statistical computing and graphics software.
What message would you like to send to young Americans with disabilities considering going to college or a career in environmental protection?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to let others around you know about your disability. Accommodations – especially in college – and your network of peers and coworkers are there to help you succeed, and there is no shame in asking for and accepting help. Environmental protection is also a very connected field, with the nearest source of support usually right next door.