I'm an associate professor of sociology at Rutgers University. My research and teaching cut across environmental health, gender, consumption, food studies, and science & technology studies.
Much of my research explores the individualization of risk in the context of widespread environmental pollution. As science and technology reveal environmental contaminants in our air, water, soil and food, I find that women and mothers are held accountable for protecting children and future children from chemical exposures. As I show in my book, Better Safe than Sorry, this responsibility plays out in women's everyday lives, during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and as they shop for their children, prepare family meals, and manage their children's health.
I connect this burden of labor to a long legacy of regulatory failure in the United States. I argue that there are limits to "precautionary consumption" as a viable strategy for dealing with widespread environmental pollution. As individuals lose trust in government to take action on toxics, they look to the market for eco-friendly products, a trend I outline in the book using a case study of Whole Foods Market.
In 2017, I was the organizer of an environmental health justice symposium, hosted at Rutgers University and featuring Dr. Linda Birnbaum, Director of the National Institutes for Environmental Health Sciences, social scientists, and New Jersey environmental justice organizations. The program and presentations are can be found here.
I'm currently Chair-Elect of the Environmental Sociology Section of the American Sociology Association. I also serve on the Union of Concerned Scientists Science Advocacy Working Group.
I teach undergraduate and graduate courses in environmental health, social inequalities, gender, food studies, and research methods. In 2017, I was awarded a Distinguished Contribution to Undergraduate Education Award from the School of Arts & Sciences at Rutgers.
If you're on Twitter, you can find me at: @nmackend
Department of Sociology
26 Nichol Avenue
New Brunswick, NJ