Mary B. Collins | Environmental Studies | SUNY-ESF
e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry
e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry

Mary B. CollinsAssistant Professor

Mary Collins

113 Marshall Hall
1 Forestry Drive
Syracuse, NY 13210

315-470-6538 | 315-470-6636

Office Location

113 Marshall Hall

Office phone: 315-470-6538

Office hours: Tuesday 11-noon & by appointment




Ph.D. 2012, Environmental Science and Management, University of California, Santa Barbara

M.A. 2008, Applied Sociology, University of Central Florida

B.S. 2000, Sociology (Concentration in Analysis and Research), University of Wisconsin—Madison

Academic Appointments

Assistant Professor 2015-pr, Department of Environmental Studies, SUNY-ESF

Postdoctoral Fellow 2013-15, National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, University of Maryland

Postdoctoral Scholar 2012-13, UC Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology, University of California, Santa Barbara

Research Interests

Broadly, I am interested in the interdependence of social and ecological systems, particularly related to issues of equity and justice in the context of human health. Research topics include: theorizing the environment-society interface, environmental disproportionality at various spatial scales, environmental health inquality, environmental justice, technological environmental risk perception, and collaborative dispute resolution in environmental disaster recovery.  The vast majority of my work relies on computational social science methods. For more information, please visit

Recent Publications

Collins, Mary B., Ian A. Munoz, and Joseph JaJa. 2016. "Linking 'Toxic Outliers' to Environmental Justice Communities Across the United States." Environmental Research Letters. (link)

Collins, Mary B. "Double Disproportionality: a Framework for Integrating Environmental Privileges and Problems." Social Science Quarterly (accepted)

Collins, Mary B. and William R. Freudenburg. 2013. "Temporal Myopia: A Case of Promising New Technologies, the Federal Government, and Inherent Conflicts of Interest." in Research in Social Problems and Public Policy. Ed Susan Maret. Emerald Publishing Group

Freudenburg, William R. and Collins, Mary B. 2013. "Public Responses to Nanotechnology: Risks to the Social Fabric?" in The Social Life of Nanotechnology. Ed Barbara Herr Harthorn and John W. Mohr. Routledge.

Collins, Mary B. 2011. "Risk-Based Targeting: Identifying Disproportionalities In The Sources And Effects Of Industrial Pollution." American Journal of Public Health. 101(S1): S231-237.




EHS 250: Foundations of Environmental Health

EHS 350: Environmental Health Management

EST 603: Resesarch Methods and Design (with Prof. David Sonnenfeld)

Bayesian Modeling for Ecological and Social Scientists Taught at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC)


Current Projects

Computational Environmental Justice Analysis (PIs: Mary Collins-SUNY ESF, Paul Mohai-University of Michigan, and Michael Ash-University of Massachusetts, Amherst) Funded by the NSF National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center at the University of Maryland

Abstract: The body of interdisciplinary scholarship examining the causes and consequences of environmental inequality assesses both the socioeconomic determinants of toxic pollution exposure and how this exposure relates to adverse community outcomes. Although environmental justice (EJ) scholars agree that (1) inequities in pollution exposure exist by both race and class and (2) these exposures result in adverse community outcomes from both health and quality-of-life standpoints, few studies look into how patterns change over time. Our group of 15 participants is building a cyberinfrastructure system that will both allow researchers to answer socio-temporal research questions and produce exploratory visualization—a vantage point where new discovery can occur. By creating this type of integrated cyberinfrastructure, we will gain new insights into the relationship between socially structured correlates and environmental injustice from both scholarly and actionable science points-of-view. 

Egregious Polluters: A socially structured explanation of disproportionality in the production of pollution (PIs: Simone Pulver-University of California, Santa Barbara & Mary Collins-SUNY ESF) Funded by NSF Division of Social and Behavior Sciences: Science of Organizations

Abstract: This project is a three-year program of basic research designed to examine the social structures that give rise to patterns of inequality (i.e. disproportionalities) in the production of pollution. Although others have noted that a key feature of economic and social impacts on the environment is unevenness in the creation of and exposure to impacts, few have sought to evaluate the socially-structured factors that create and support such disproportionality. Towards this end, this prjoect focuses on three research questions: 1) How has disproportionality in the production of pollution changed over time? 2) What drives changes over time in disproportionality in the production of pollution? 3) What factors account for the persistence of egregious polluters? This project will answer these questions by using both quantitative and qualitative comparative techniques that analyze facility-level emissions for over 600 establishments in the pulp and paper milling, printed circuit board manufacturing, and PVC pipe manufacturing industries in the U.S. This inquiry offers a new framework within which to analyze the production of environmental harm, challenging several common assumptions; namely the notion that environmental harm is proportional to economic growth and that firms are disconnected decision-making units. In addition to theoretical and empirical insights, a disproportionality approach also has direct implications for the regulation of pollution. Rather than setting absolute standards for an entire industry, a disproportionality approach focuses on identifying egregious polluters and enabling the reconfiguration of production among those who are the worst actors. Improving the environmental performance of a select few egregious polluters can significantly reduce the pollution burden generated by an industry.



Current Graduate Advisees

Current Graduate Advisees

Dustin HillDustin Hill

  • Degree Sought: PHD
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Collins
  • Area of Study: Environmental and Natural Resources Policy
  • Undergraduate Institution: Le Moyne College (Environmental Studie)
  • Previous Graduate Study: SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry (Environmental Studies)

Personal Statement
Dustin Hill is a PhD student in the GPES program of Environmental and Natural Resources Policy. His bachelor's degree was completed at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY. Dustin's background is in environmental policy and undergraduate research examinined hydraulic fracturing and its impact on the surface landscape. Dustin completed his M.S. in 2017 at SUNY ESF with research focusing on both the sources of industrial pollution and the impact on communities and the environment. Current research is being conducted with Mary B. Collins in the ES department examining point source pollution across multiple industrial sectors over time.

Research Interests
Industrial pollution; environmental inequalty; natural gas development; policy; corporate social responsibility

Michael PetroniMichael Petroni

  • Degree Sought: PHD
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Collins
  • Area of Study: Environmental and Natural Resources Policy
  • Undergraduate Institution: St. Lawrence University

Jongdae SongJongdae Song

  • Degree Sought: PHD
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Collins and Sonnenfeld
  • Area of Study: Environmental and Natural Resources Policy
  • Previous Graduate Study: Korea University (Public Administrationn)

Doctoral Research Topic
In Search of Socially Acceptable Solution(s) for Air Pollution: Corporate Environmental Programs and Community Monitoring in South Korea

Areas of Interest
Environmental policy and governance; Social norm formation and change; Pollutant release and transfer register (PRTR) information systems; Ozone trends and problems in South Korea

Journal articles

  • Song, Jong-dae & Kim, Doo-rae. 2016. "Corporate motivational types and the mediating effects of voluntary agreements: 30/50 program for chemical pollutant release reduction in Korea," Korean Public Administration Review 50(1): 109-137.
  • Kim, Doo-rae & Song, Jong-dae. 2014. "Mechanism of controls over bureaucracy in Asian countries: an empirical exploration for typology," Journal of Governmental Studies 20(2): 35-62.

Lauren TarrLauren Tarr

  • Degree Sought: PHD
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Vidon and Collins,m
  • Area of Study: Environmental and Natural Resources Policy