Seth Berrin Shonkoff, PhD, MPH

Executive Director, Physicians, Scientists, and Engineers for Healthy Energy & Environmental Researcher, UC Berkeley

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PhD, Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, University of California, Berkeley.  Berkeley, CA, USA

MPH (Epidemiology), University of California, Berkeley.  Berkeley, CA, USA

BA (Major: Environmental Studies, Minor: Ceramics), Skidmore College.  Saratoga Springs, NY, USA

Research Interests

Hydraulic Fracturing, Environmental Public Health, Climate Change, Environmental Policy

Research Description

Primarily, I am interested in the public health and equity dimensions associated with different climate change mitigation strategies and energy choices. My research looks at these issues both within local and international contexts and among regional policies and global market strategies.

My work on hydraulic fracturing assesses the health and climate dimensions of shale gas and shale oil, predominantly in the United States.  I have two primary foci in this work: 1) the environmental public health dimensions of shale gas and oil production (air quality, water quality); and 2) the distribution of well densities and environmental public health protections across socioeconomic space.  My work is focused mostly in Pennsylvania, New York, and California.

My work on short-lived climate active pollutants (CAPs) from climate forcing and human health damaging perspectives and implications of the intersection of the two for climate policy development. My focus has primarily been on ozone and aerosols (with specific emphases on black carbon and sulfates).

Lastly, I look at climate change mitigation-relevant methods and metrics in order to show what health, equity, and climate variables can be ‘seen’ and what is rendered ‘invisible’ in climate change and environmental health research. From basic climate and health science to the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of mitigation strategies, metrics and methods are determinants of conclusions reached. These critical metric analyses aim to strengthen climate change mitigation-relevant information and, ultimately, to develop more effective climate mitigation policies with an eye towards health, equity, and climatic dimensions. Some focus areas in this line of research are: 1) Exposing inconsistencies in black carbon (BC) measurements among atmospheric and health science and the implications of these methodological decisions for the development of effective BC emission reduction strategies; and 2) Exposing methodological strengths and weaknesses in improved cookstove project M&E methodologies for the measurement of carbon savings. Through this analysis I make recommendations for more scientifically rigorous evaluation requirements from climate, health, socioeconomic, and other sustainable development perspectives.

Fieldwork for my research has been conducted primarily in California, Pennsylvania, and New York State, USA; Ghana; and and Mali.

Selected Publications

Shonkoff SB. 2012. Public Health Dimensions of Horizontal Hydraulic Fracturing: Knowledge,Obstacles, Tactics, and Opportunities.  A Report for The 11th Hour Project (Schmidt Family Foundation).

Shonkoff SB. 2012. The Frack Gap: well density, environmental and health protections, and socioeconomic status in the United States.  A Report for The 11th Hour Project (Schmidt Family Foundation).  In Preparation.

Shonkoff SB, Morello-Frosch R, Pastor M, Sadd J.  2011. Environmental Health and Equity Implications of Climate Change and Mitigation Policies in California: A Review of the Literature. Forthcoming in Climatic Change. volume 109. Suppl. 1.

Shonkoff SB.  Divergent Monitoring Requirements for Improved Cookstove Carbon Offset Projects: Implications and Recommendations. In Preparation.

Shonkoff SB, Chafe Z, Kirchstetter T, Smith KR. Inconsistencies in Black Carbon Measurements: Implications for Health and Climate Policy Development.  In preparation.

Jerrett M, Su JG, Ortega Hinojosa OM, Kontgis C, Shonkoff SB, Yuen T, Seto E, Jesdale, B, Morello-Frosch R. In Preparation.  Mapping Climate Change Exposures, Vulnerabilities and Adaptation to Public Health Risks in the San Francisco Bay and Fresno Regions. California Energy Commission.

Shonkoff SB, Chafe Z, Smith KR.  2010. Addressing Inconsistencies in Black Carbon Literature. Poster presented at the American Geophysical Union. Session Title: Black Carbon's Role in Global to Local Air Quality and Climate Change. San Francisco, CA.  December 15, 2010.

Smith KR, Jerrett M, Anderson HR, Burnett RT, Stone V, Derwent R, Atkinson RW, Cohen A, Shonkoff SB, Krewski D, Pope CA, 3rd, Thun MJ, Thurston G.  2009.  Public Health Benefits of Strategies to Reduce Greenhouse-Gas Emissions: Health Implications of Short-Lived Greenhouse Pollutants. The Lancet. 374(9707): 2091-2103.

Shonkoff SB, Morello-Frosch R, Pastor M, Sadd J.  2009.  Minding the Climate Gap: Implications of Environmental Health Inequities for Mitigation Policies in California.  Environmental Justice 2(4): 173-177.

Morello-Frosch R, Pastor M, Sadd J, Shonkoff SB.  2009. The Climate Gap: Inequalities in How Climate Change Hurts Americans & How to Close the Gap. The Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE).  University of Southern California. Available at:

Shonkoff SB, Morello-Frosch R, Pastor M, Sadd J.  2009. Environmental Health and Equity Impacts from Climate Change and Mitigation Policies in California: A Review of the Literature." In: Cal-EPA Climate Action Team Report. Available at:

Shonkoff SB, Ahrens K, Klausner JA.  2008.  Comparing HIV Positivity Rates in Risk Based Targeted vs. Opt-in Expanded HIV Testing Frameworks in a Municipal STD Clinic in San Francisco, CA. Poster Presented at the CDC National STD Conference, Chicago, IL, March 10-13, 2008.

Watershed Science and Policy

Spencer DF, Ksander GG, Donovan MJ, Liow PS, Chan WK, Greenfield BK, Shonkoff SB, Andrew S.  2006.  Evaluation of Waterhyacinth Survival and Growth in the Sacramento Delta, California, following cutting.  The Journal of Plant Management. 44: 50-60

Greenfield BK, Jahn A, Grenier JL, Shonkoff SB, Sandheinrich M.  2006.  Mercury in Biosentinel Fish in San Francisco Bay: First Year Project Report: A report of the Regional Monitoring Program Exposure and Effects Pilot Study. SFEI; River Studies Center, University of Wisconsin.

Greenfield BK, David N, Siemering GS, McNabb TP, Spencer DF, Ksander GG, Donovan MJ, Liow PS, Chan WK, Shonkoff SB, Andrews SP, Andrews JC, Rajan M, Howard V, Sytsma M, Earnshaw S, Anderson LWJ.  2005. Aquatic Pesticide Monitoring Program Non-Chemical Alternatives Year 3 Final Report. APMP Technical Report: SFEI Contribution 390. Oakland, CA.

Pearce S, McKee L, Shonkoff SB. 2005.  Pinole Creek Watershed Sediment Source Assessment. Oakland, California. SFEI Contribution 316.

Greenfield BK, Wittner E, David N, Shonkoff SB, Davis JA.  2004.  Monitoring Trace Organic Contamination in Delta Fish: Current Data and Future Steps. A report to the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board. SFEI Contribution 99. Oakland CA.

Pearce SA, McKee LJ, Shonkoff SB.  2004. San Pedro Creek Watershed Sediment Source Analysis, Volume III: Tributary sediment source assessment. A report prepared for the City of Pacifica, California. SFEI Contribution 87. Oakland, CA.

Hayworth J, David N, Shonkoff SB. 2004.  Phase 2 (2003) Bioassessment of Waterbodies Treated with Aquatic Pesticides. SFEI Contribution 117. Oakland, CA.

Pearce SA, McKee LJ, Shonkoff SB.  2004. San Pedro Creek Watershed Sediment Source Analysis, Volume III: Tributary sediment source assessment. A report prepared for the City of Pacifica, California. SFEI Contribution 87. Oakland, CA.

Recent Teaching

ES 196 Environmental Science Senior Thesis Seminar (Fall 2010 to Spring 2012)

ESPM 155 - Sociology of Natural Resources (Fall 2009)

ESPM C167/PH 160 - Environmental Health and Development (Fall 2008)

Contact Information


Office: 221 University Hall

Office Phone: (510) 664-4443


Curriculum Vitae


Research Group(s)

Mailing Address

Dept of Environmental Science, Policy, & Management
UC Berkeley
130 Mulford Hall #3114
Berkeley, CA 94720