Grassroots Work to Create Safe Drinking Water for a Town in the Navajo Nation

A small group of people gathered around a water pump installation

Thursday, January 28, 2021
11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. PST




A Speaker Series Toxicology and Societies:
The Impacts of Chemicals in Our Lives 

January 28, 2021 at 11 a.m. PST

Brought to you in partnership with the Huxley College of the Environment’s Institute of Toxicology and Chemistry and the WWU Alumni Association


Please join us for the next speaker in our series on Toxicology and Societies: The Impacts of Chemicals in our Lives. Dr. Rock will talk about how he worked with a grassroots organization and community members from Sanders, Arizona in Northern Arizona on water quality along the Puerco River.

Working with grassroots, community leaders, and elected community members they were able to get new potable water to the Sanders community and their elementary and middle school. This was a citizen science collaboration that made positive changes.

Our vision in developing this series was to support a better understanding of something that affects all of us. There are over 300,000 chemicals being produced and used in almost everything we wear, eat, and drink. How can you ever hope to understand when and where you or your family might be at risk from some of these chemicals? The short answer is, you can’t know everything about all of these substances, but you can learn more about how toxicology (the study of toxic substances) affects you and your society.

This seminar series aims to help you better appreciate, understand, and evaluate the many ways that manufactured chemicals interact with all humans on Earth.

More information about the speaker series is available here.

Tommy Rock

Dr. Tommy Rock


Tommy Rock is a member of the Navajo Nation from Monument Valley, Utah. He is the first one from his family to get a doctoral degree. Dr. Rock received his Bachelor degree from Arizona State University in Environmental Geography and Recreational Management in 2002 and received his Master’s degree from Northern Arizona University in 2008.

Dr. Rock went to the University of New Mexico for two years as a Research Scientist I under Johnnye Lewis, PhD. He was involved in the DiNEH Project until funding ran out, funded under the National Institute of Environmental Health Supplement Grant. Afterwards, he worked at Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency- Public Water Systems Supervision Program. Dr. Rock was there for two years when he realized he needed to get his doctoral degree. Dr. Rock went back to Northern Arizona University where he received his Ph.D. in Earth Science and Environmental Sustainability in December of 2017.

Ruth Sofield

Ruth Sofield


Ruth Sofield is a Professor of environmental toxicology and chemistry in the College of the Environment. She received her PhD and MS in Environmental Science and Engineering at the Colorado School of Mines. Ruth’s research group focuses on the effects of water and air pollution. Their current projects include the aquatic toxicity of microplastic and tire wear particles, and the use of moss as a biomonitoring tool for particulate matter. Ruth is a member of the Puget Sound Partnership Science Panel and the President of the Pacific Northwest Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.

Tracy Collier

Tracy Collier


Tracy Collier received his PhD in Fisheries Sciences from the University of Washington. He has worked for over 45 years as a toxicologist, with more than 35 of those years spent at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center, where he served as the director of a science division that employed up to 100 people, covering several disciplines, including environmental toxicology, analytical chemistry, harmful algal blooms, and watershed processes. He has over 175 scientific publications, and currently is an affiliate faculty at Western.

Questions and Accommodations

Contact the WWU Alumni Association for this event. Feel free to call at (360) 650-3353 or email at if you have any questions or comments.

There will be auto-captions available for this event. To request closed captions, please mark the request on the registration form. Advance notice of three days to one week is appreciated.