PhD Spotlight: Sarah Sanchez, PhD’23, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Sarah Sanchez earned her BS, in civil engineering, MS, in engineering and public policy, and PhD in civil and environmental engineering. She was awarded the Strategic Advancement of Rising Scholars (STARS) Fellowship funded by the National Science Foundation for her PhD studies.

As an undergraduate, she studied sustainable cities and systems, designing the environmental infrastructure for a brand-new city of 200,000 in China as a capstone project. As a member of the inaugural class of Northeastern’s MS in engineering and public policy program, she focused her research on sustainability in health care, leading a study evaluating reusable versus disposable medical supplies and devices that was published in the peer-reviewed journal Resources Conservation and Recycling.

Advised by Associate Professor Matthew Eckelman, Sanchez was awarded the Strategic Advancement of Rising Scholars (STARS) Fellowship funded by the National Science Foundation to continue her research and graduate training through a PhD in civil and environmental engineering. Her main dissertation work lay in building methods and models for lifecycle environmental assessment in direct collaboration with communities of “care professionals,” from medical doctors to art conservators.

Sanchez’s work led to numerous published case studies, exhibits, databases, and a website visited and used by tens of thousands of art conservators around the world. Many of the environmental concerns among care professionals involve chemicals and pollution, and Sanchez also conducted research at community scales on the sources and distribution of hazardous air pollutants in Massachusetts.

In addition to her academic work, Sanchez served on and eventually led the CEE department’s Graduate Student Council that advises the department and organizes trainings and events. She has dedicated her academic career to understanding the environmental and health impacts that care communities cause, not from a distance, but deeply embedded within those communities of practice. Sanchez embodies Northeastern’s mission of impact-driven research, working to put knowledge into the hands of care professionals and create tools to help them “green” their practices.

Related Faculty: Matthew J. Eckelman

Related Departments:Civil & Environmental Engineering