Ami R Zota

Ami Zota is a population health scientist with expertise in environmental health, environmental justice, and maternal and reproductive health. Her research focuses on understanding social and structural determinants of environmental exposures and their consequent impacts to women's health outcomes across the life course. Her long-term goal is to help secure environmental justice and health equity among systematically marginalized populations by advancing scientific inquiry, training next generation leaders, increasing public engagement with science, and supporting community-led solutions for structural change. Dr. Zota was among the first to frame the disproportionate burden of toxic chemical exposures from beauty and personal care products among women of color as an environmental justice concern. She co-developed an intersectional framework called "the environmental injustice of beauty", which links systems of power and oppression, such as racism, sexism, and classism, to Eurocentric beauty norms, racialized beauty practices, and adverse environmental health outcomes. She currently works with community-based research collaboratives in New York City and Los Angeles to reduce risks from unregulated chemicals in consumer products among Black, Latinx, and Asian women and femme-identifying individuals. Another key area of Dr. Zota's research is understanding how state and federal policies can impact environmental health risks. She is a PI of a study whose goal is to examine whether federal housing assistance programs reduce exposures to lead, second-hand smoke, and other environmental chemicals among low-income households. Lastly, Dr. Zota also has expertise in evaluating social, environmental, and molecular determinants of women's health across the life course, including pregnancy outcomes, gynecologic outcomes, cardiometabolic outcomes, and cancer. For example, Dr. Zota is PI of the FORGE study, which leverages the intersectionality exposome to identify modifiable drivers of racial inequities in uterine fibroids. Her research is funded by the National Institutes of Health, US Department of Housing and Urban Development, California Breast Cancer Research Program, and private foundations. Dr. Zota is the founding director of the Agents of Change in Environmental Justice program which seeks to foster more diverse, equitable and inclusive leaders in environmental and climate justice. Agents of Change in Environmental Justice trains early career scientists from systematically marginalized backgrounds in science communication, storytelling, community engagement, and policy translation. The program empowers its fellows to shift mainstream narratives on environment and climate by broadly disseminating their voices, stories, and research contributions over multi-media platforms. Multiple authoritative bodies in the field of environmental public health have recognized Dr. Zota's innovative approaches to addressing public health problems. In 2011, she was the recipient of a K99/R00 Career Development Award by National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. In 2017, Dr. Zota was recognized as a Pioneer under 40 in Environmental Public Health by the Collaborative on Health and the Environment. Her scholarly contributions have been honored by the American Public Health Association and the International Society for Exposure Science. Dr. Zota is equally committed to developing innovative approaches for science translation so that her research can more effectively be used to inform individual and collective decision-making. Her research and perspectives have been featured in high-impact national and international media including the Washington Post, LA Times, USA Today, The Hill, Atlantic Monthly, and CNN. Dr. Zota's scholarly and translational work has helped shape health and safety standards for consumer product chemicals.

Research Interests

Environmental Hazards and Children
Environmental Health
Health Inequities
Reproductive Justice


American Community Survey (ACS)
Administrative Data (state or national)
National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)
American Housing Survey, HUD Administrative Records