Water Justice Lab

The Water Justice Lab (WJL) launched in the midst of the pandemic in June, 2020. This three-year collaboration between Riverkeeper and Media Sanctuary will establish a water quality sampling lab in the NATURE Lab Environmental Education Center. WJL will educate diverse communities about water justice and how to make a difference, develop the advocacy capacity of the North Troy area, and strengthen a network of environmental justice advocates focused on water issues in the Hudson River Watershed.

The first year of Water Justice Lab culminates with a virtual gathering of advocates from Hudson River Watershed communities to strengthen a network of environmental justice advocates including youth, focused on water issues:

WJL Youth Scientist Fellows participate in monthly sessions, including water testing, research, and radio production.  Youth Scientist Fellows will develop science and media skills to communicate activities for outreach and education. Youth Scientist Fellows work with co-fellows under the supervision of the WJL Scientist Mentor, as well as interact with staff from Media Sanctuary and Riverkeeper. WJL Crew will:

  1. Process water samples for Riverkeeper’s Upper Hudson water quality monitoring project under Riverkeeper staff mentors; 
  2. Create audio content for the Hudson-Mohawk Magazine radio broadcast/podcast focused on water literacy, water civics and relevant Riverkeeper projects; 
  3. In Fall 2020 (Dec. 11 & Dec. 12), organize a virtual gathering of advocates from Hudson River Watershed communities to strengthen a network of environmental justice advocates including youth, focused on water issues; 
  4. Mentor North Troy youth and provide workforce development training in job skills such as laboratory procedures, media creation and event organizing. 

Note: In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Media Sanctuary staff and youth will not engage directly in water sample processing, except through training and audio storytelling.


Water Justice Lab Team

kathy highKathy High is an interdisciplinary artist / educator who collaborates with scientists and activists, and considers living systems, animal sentience, and ethical dilemmas of biotechnology and medical industries. She is Head of department and Professor of Video and New Media in the Department of Arts and has a laboratory in the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. She is a supporter of community DIY science and ecological art practices. She is the Project Coordinator for the NATURE Lab Urban Environmental Education Center with The Sanctuary. She is committed to queer and feminist approaches to reshaping ecological bio-science research and learning, and to collaborations with our local communities.

Maine-born Rebecca Martin is the Acting Director for Community Partnerships at Riverkeeper. She is one of the collaborators of the Water Justice Lab, a new three-year program established by Riverkeeper and Media Sanctuary. Rebecca is passionate about her work in helping local communities develop strategic and creative campaigns to solve complicated issues. She is dedicated to providing a sustainable program for the Water Justice Lab which provides the youth of Troy the opportunity to develop their love of the Hudson River through water science, education and advocacy.

Branda MillerBranda Miller is media artist, activist and educator, dedicated to explore new visions, use media as an organizing too for social and environmental justice, and support independent voices. She is the Arts and Education Coordinator at The Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy, NY a tenured Professor of Media Arts at Rensselaer. Professor Miller brings three decades of experience in youth media, community media, media arts and education to the Water Justice Lab project. She is committed to this powerful opportunity for youth to use science, media and art as environmental stewards to protect the Hudson River and the health of their communities.

SebastianSebastian is the Community Science Coordinator for Riverkeeper. He got there after growing up in Littleton, Massachusetts and going to school at Umass Amherst and Bard College, and working in Oaxaca, Mexico on watershed management. Currently he coordinates a network of samplers in the Mid Hudson and Upper Hudson parts of the Hudson River watershed, and is excited to work with the Water Justice Lab on sampling projects in 2021 and beyond. He hates capitalism, believes a better world is possible, and loves tinkering with and riding bikes.

Catherine Rafferty is a freelance photojournalist and documentary filmmaker from upstate New York whose work explores intimate, complex themes with concern for social justice. She recently worked in Phoenix, AZ at The Arizona Republic, part of the USA Today network, as a Pulliam Fellow covering the COVID-19 pandemic and calls for racial justice. She’s previously interned at the Times Union in Albany, NY and The Sanctuary, where she documented Uptown Summer in the Roots for Resilience solo exhibition. She graduated with a BFA in photojournalism from Rochester Institute of Technology in 2020. Rafferty produces the “Birth Justice” podcast on WOOC 105.3 FM and is currently media mentor to the Water Justice Lab Fellows at The Sanctuary. She’s excited to continue working with the fellows to tell the story of their community and its relationship to the river.

Jared Wesley Singer dedicated year one to help and learn from others as the Water Justice Lab Scientist Mentor. His education in chemistry was redirected by a love of nature and desire for a sustainable and equitable society: Circa year 2002 at University of Utah, classwork on global resource limitations yanked him off the standard industrial chemistry track towards an environmental/analytical perspective. The climate change dialogue fired up his passion and he set to work on environmental research projects as an undergraduate, including a research fellowship at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in 2006. Also while at Utah he forged connections of art, nature, science, and fire in the department of ceramic arts. This led fortuitously to the New York College of Ceramics at Alfred University, where he studied for his Ph.D. in Material Science and continued his art practice in ceramics (2010 to 2013). At RPI since 2013 Jared has honed his analytical science skills, executed practical maintenance of lab facilities, and collaborated with diverse people and projects in Earth Science and Engineering.

Jared Wesley Singer continues a personal art practice, and engages in wilderness adventures and food preservation as a hobby/lifestyle. The opportunity for NATURE lab collaborations binds together his loves of science, art, and nature; meanwhile the opportunity brings new challenges to teach, mentor, and guide youth North Troy.