Researchers seek additional partners within
Little Rock to host monitoring sites
From left: Dr. Laura Bernstein-Kurtycz
(Little Rock Zoo), Anna Burford (Hendrix Class of ’25), Dr. Courtney Hatch
(Hendrix College Department of Chemistry), Isabel Ritter (Hendrix Class of ’24),
and Tony Dawson (Little Rock Zoo) stand outside the Zoo’s administration
building, where the air monitor is installed and visible in the upper left-hand
corner of the photo.
CONWAY, Arkansas (January 30, 2024)—The
Little Rock Zoo and a group of researchers from Hendrix College have partnered to
help measure air quality in the community surrounding the Zoo.
Hendrix College professors Dr.
Courtney Hatch of the Department of Chemistry and Dr. Brett Hill of the
Department of Sociology/Anthropology, who are part of the Environmental Studies
Program faculty and together hold the Nancy and Craig Wood Odyssey
Professorship, are working to expand open access to air quality data in and
around the Little Rock area.
“Our Odyssey Professorship project
aims to engage students with resources that allow them to answer questions
regarding environmental inequality within our community,” Hatch said. “Air
quality is just one variable we can use to explore environmental impacts on
disadvantaged communities. In August, we collaborated with the Little Rock
Sustainability Office to complete a heat mapping campaign within Little Rock.
The heat island data we collected provide an alternative lens through which we
can explore environmental justice issues on a regional scale.”
Hatch and two students, Anna Burford ’25
and Isabel Ritter ’24, visited the Zoo this past fall to install a Purple Air
monitor outside of the Zoo Administration Building. This monitor measures and
reports real-time air quality measurements that are open to the local community
and are added to a national network of monitoring sites. The data collected by
these monitors will help scientists better understand how air quality impacts the
The research team is currently looking
for additional partners within Little Rock to host additional monitoring sites.
Businesses, private property owners, or government entities may explore
participating by contacting Hatch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Air quality data collected at the Zoo
and in other central Arkansas locations will be used to support a summer camp
called LEAP (Leadership in Environmental Analysis for the People). Hendrix
students who participate in the camp will use open access data to learn how
geospatial mapping can provide perspective to local environmental inequities.
The Little Rock Zoo’s Dr. Laura
Bernstein-Kurtycz, Conservation and Research Coordinator, is the Zoo liaison
between the Hendrix group and the Zoo.
“We are excited to be a part of this
project. Understanding the impacts of air quality on our local environment is
important for the health of our community—which includes both humans and
animals,” Bernstein-Kurtycz said. “This partnership is a great way to further
our commitment to local efforts to improve our environment. Our work with local
environmental equality began with our participation in the City’s heat
mapping campaign last summer. With conservation as an integral part of our
mission, we are glad to have impact on our community by executing this
Visit the Purple Air site and select “real-time map” to see the data the monitor is
collecting at the Little Rock Zoo and to explore other sites across the city
Founded in 1876, Hendrix College is featured in Colleges That
Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges and
celebrated among the country’s leading liberal arts colleges for academic
quality, engaged learning opportunities and career preparation, vibrant campus
life, and value. The Hendrix College Warriors compete in 21 NCAA Division III
sports. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since
1884. Learn more at www.hendrix.edu.
“… Through engagement that links the classroom with the world, and
a commitment to diversity, inclusion, justice, and sustainable living, the
Hendrix community inspires students to lead lives of accomplishment, integrity,
service, and joy.” —Hendrix
College Statement of Purpose
The Little Rock Zoo is
accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Look for the AZA
logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are
supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a
great experience for you and a better future for all living things. With its
more than 200 accredited members, AZA is a leader in global wildlife
conservation and your link to helping animals in their native habitats. For
more information, visit www.aza.org.