Re-naming CBNS to the Barry Commoner Center of Health and the Environment

On December 2 at 4:30 pm, Queens College President Félix V. Matos Rodríguez will join Center faculty and staff to officially re-name the Center for the Biology of Natural Systems after its founder, Barry Commoner. We will also have an open house that afternoon from 3:00 pm to 5:30 pm and short faculty talks from 3:00 pm to 4:15 pm. The location is Remsen Hall, 3rd Floor, Queens College, CUNY. The CUNY community and interested individuals are invited.

New Researcher Augments Immigrant Occupational Health Program at the Center

Isabel Cuervo PhD is a new Research Associate at the Center. She is currently designing and managing multiple projects related to immigrant and low-wage worker health and safety. She has a BA in architecture from Barnard College and a PhD from the interdisciplinary Environmental Psychology program at the CUNY Graduate Center. She has varied research experience from across the social sciences, including housing, urban planning, education, and community health. Her dissertation research was a qualitative case study examining residents’ and housing professionals’ understandings of housing, neighborhood and community building practices in a state-sponsored social housing development in Bogotá, Colombia. She has taught courses on the urban and neighborhood aspects of environmental psychology at City College of New York (graduate), Sarah Lawrence College (undergraduate), and the High School for Health Professions and Human Services (secondary). She is an Editorial Board Member of the Qualitative Report, a peer-reviewed, online bi-monthly journal devoted to qualitative, critical, action, and collaborative research.


The Center for the Biology of Natural Systems (CBNS) is an environmental and occupational health research institute at Queens College, City University of New York, the nation's largest public university. The mission of CBNS is to identify and help rectify environmental and occupational threats to human health. CBNS uses real world occupational and environmental problems as its entry point for needed research, emphasizing a scientific approach that facilitates public participation in gathering information and developing solutions and interacting extensively with people and organizations that determine or are affected by these policy choices.

Barry Commoner, 1917 - 2012

Barry Commoner, who founded our Center for the Biology of Natural Systems in 1966, passed away on September 30, 2012. 

Barry was an exceptional scientist, teacher, and citizen. He first taught biology at Queens College in 1941 or so and then later returned in 1981, when he moved the Center for the Biology of Natural Systems from Washington University to Queens College. Barry has been rightly called the "father of the environmental movement," because his brilliant speeches, books, and writings beginning in the 1950's and 1960's influenced a generation and helped people understand the roots and expression of, as well as solutions to, environmental problems. He took on a succession of seminal issues – energy in the 1970's, solid waste and recycling in the 1980's, global dispersion of pollutants in the 1990's, and the use of genetic knowledge in the 2000's – harnessing whatever knowledge and creativity was needed to identify the core elements of the problem and the keys to its resolution. 

Barry had enormous confidence in democracy, i.e., citizen participation, and spent much of his career empowering the public to have influence in social decision-making that affected their lives. Indeed, Barry deserves much credit for assisting in the formation of grass roots groups in the rise of environmentalism. The current pre-eminence of environmental issues in public discourse followed thereafter. Barry's approach of identifying, connecting and addressing inter-related issues and subsequently locating the need to act on the roots causes of the environmental crisis remains as true today as when he first developed this approach 50 years ago. 

We at CBNS will miss Barry – his intellect, his fearlessness, his resolve, his optimism, his commitment to justice – but, more to the point, the world has lost an important citizen.

Steven Markowitz
Director, CBNS

The Worker Health Protection Program issues the 2014 Healthwatch Annual Newsletter consisting of program updates and health and safety news relevant to the former DOE workforce and other stakeholders.

flag 1

The Worker Health Protection Program (WHPP) Early Lung Cancer Detection Program (ELCD) marked a milestone with the detection of its 100th lung cancer. The WHPP ELCD has been in operation for thirteen years and is presently the largest occupational lung cancero screening program in the world. To date, the WHPP ELCD has provided low-dose CT scans to over 13,000 former and current Department of Energy (DOE) workers from nine facilities throughout the country. Lung cancer has been detected in approximately one of every 129 WHPP ELCD Programparticipants screened. The WHPP ELCD program presently operates at the: Paducah, Portsmouth, more


News Side Panel

Steven Markowitz MD, DrPH will speak on "Asbestos, Asbestosis, Smoking and Lung Cancer: Update of the North American Insulator Cohort" at a course, Current on September 16, 2014.

Jonathan Corbin will present a poster entitled "Solvent Exposure Associated with Hearing Loss in Department of Energy Workers" on November 15-19th, 2014.

Have epidemiologists become infatuated with methods? on November 13, 2014.

Saving Lives one DOE worker at a time