CEHS Co-Sponsors International Conference on Water Quality

Touro University California’s (TUC) College of Education and Health Sciences co-sponsored Sias International Water Conference’s, “Leveraging Factors for our Planetary Future,”  in late May 2013, which gathered dedicated environmentalists, international scholars, and other contributors responding to the global challenge of radical climate change. 

The three-day event, held at Sias International University in Zhengzhou, Henan Province in mainland China, attracted hundreds of participants and more than 50 scholars, government officials and experts on water quality. Included in the panel of speakers was Dr. Tina Mackie, Assistant Professor of Public Health at TUC, who presented her research entitled, “Public Health Surveillance of Toxic Cyanobacteria in Freshwater Remote Sensing,” detailing the potential dire impacts on aquatic life. 

“Cyanobacteria are microorganisms that can grow in both freshwater and saltwater. In the right conditions they out compete other phytoplankton and multiply quickly forming thick green scums,” said Dr. Mackie. “Since cyanobacteria produce their own toxins, these blooms can also pose a public health threat. Recreational uses of these water bodies may be exposed to these toxins which affect the liver, the gastro intestinal system, and the nervous system. Even greater public health risk comes from the use of these contaminated waters as a drinking water source.” 

TUC’s College of Education and Health Sciences Dean, Dr. Jim O’Connor, also attended the conference and stated, “Dr. Mackie’s presentation was exceptionally well received. Numerous individuals attending the conference made glowing remarks concerning the quality of her presentation. We are very proud of her accomplishments.” 

Dr. Jonathan Overpeck, 2007 Nobel Peace Prize winner and Professor of Geological Science and Atmospheric Science, presented to the audience as well, and discussed the climatic challenge to global water supply, such as changes in precipitation, rainfall, snow and drought.

Last year Dr. O’Connor signed a cooperative agreement with Sias International University, co-signing with Dr. Shawn Chen, founder of the university. The agreement provides for both student and faculty exchanges between the two campuses. 

Next fall, students from the TUC Master in Public Health Global Health program will be going to Sias for their global health placement. They will work in the Sias campus prevention center focusing on a variety of health related topics. 

The three-day International Water Conference addressed water issues, development, global warming, and climatic patterns via a plethora of workshops and seminars presented throughout the days. The conference gathered speakers from across the globe in hopes of engaging dialogue that creates meaning from past and present experiences. 

“It is the wish of all the conference organizers and sponsors that through communication with visionaries from all over the world, we will all learn and develop a common vocabulary that helps everyone accelerate and advance environmental change in their own communities and countries,” said Dr. Chen, Chairman of Sias International University. 

TUC was recognized at a banquet for conference participants as well as during Sias’ Homecoming day, which preceded their 2013 commencement. Sias International University began fourteen years ago with three hundred students. Today their enrollment exceeds twelve thousand students.