Environmental Health Sciences
PhD, Epidemiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
MPH, Epidemiology/Biostatistics & Public Health Nutrition, University of California, Berkeley
BA, Biology & Psychology, Indiana University, Bloomington
Dr. Kalkbrenner is an environmental epidemiologist. Her primary focus is how exposures to environmental pollutants in pregnancy or the first years of life may increase the risk of neurodevelopmental disorders like autism. Her current projects address airborne pollutants, such as volatile organic compounds, traffic-related pollutants, and tobacco smoke, for a potential impact on behavioral and social problems in childhood. Dr. Kalkbrenner also works to improve the methods in such studies, by exploring how children come to be diagnosed with autism, by including more nuanced measures of behavioral phenotype s , and by uncovering short windows of development that may be periods of increased risk to toxicant exposures. Ultimately, she positions her work to inform societal measures that will improve the public’s health. Dr. Kalkbrenner is enthusiastic about teaching introductory epidemiology and environmental epidemiology. She explains epidemiology as “the science of getting the right number”, whether that number describes how many children truly have autism, or the increase in the risk of autism due to second-hand smoke exposure to the mother during pregnancy.