Skip to:

Noelle Watanabe: Clearing the Air

Noelle Watanabe


  • Noelle Watanabe grew up in Los Angeles, and remembers her father telling stories about not being able to go outside because the smog was so bad he could see it. Both her mother and brother suffered from asthma, and as a child, she remembers how frightening it was to watch their frequent bouts of wheezing, coughing and pain.
  • Observing the effects such pollution was having on her family members, Watanabe sought to understand the connection and what could be done to address the problem. 
  • Watanabe learned more about the role of environmental toxins in many health conditions, and she became determined to pursue a degree in public health that would enable her to understand the specifics of these connections and develop solutions. 
Los Angeles cityscape


  • As a Fielding student working on her MPH degree in Environmental Health Sciences, Watanabe aims to get an education that can help her prevent future generations of families from having to go through the frightening experiences she did as a child when she had to see both her mother and brother suffer from asthma.

"Many people are not aware of the strong associations between the environment and their health. Because the particles and toxins are not visible, people don't realize they are being exposed or that serious health outcomes may result from these exposures."

  • She hopes to raise awareness of these important issues by educating the diverse populations of Los Angeles - particularly those at the highest risk for exposure to air and water pollution. 
  • She aims to use her fluency in Spanish to develop specialized plans for Spanish-speaking communities. She also intends to promote sustainability as a way of improving the health and environment of Los Angeles.
  • "I feel so honored to have the privilege to study environmental health sciences at the Fielding School of Public Health," Watanabe says. "This program allows me to bridge my interests in science, health and education and gives me the potential to have a huge impact on the prevention of chronic disease in the Los Angeles population. The unique interdisciplinary opportunities that UCLA offers will give me an edge in solving the complex multifaceted environmental health problems we face. I am dedicated to my goals and I know that the education I receive here will enable me to accomplish them."