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Rocky Hill Professor Earns High Honor

By Barbara A. Preston | Posted February 28, 2023

The American Association for the Advancement of Science recently elected Rocky Hill resident William K. Hallman as a fellow — one of the highest honors bestowed on a scientist.

For three decades, Professor Hallman has examined people’s perceptions of the risks associated with food, technology, health, and the environment. “A common attribute of the risks I study is that the things people worry about – or fail to pay attention to – are generally invisible: bacteria and viruses, parasites, chemicals, electric and magnetic fields, radiation...,” Hallman said.

“My job is really to help make the invisible visible in ways that get people to take appropriate actions, including those who would prefer not to look, or try hard not to see.”

Hallman began his work studying environmental justice issues, working with an African American community living next to a hazardous waste dump in South Carolina.

Professor William Hallman, a Rocky Hill resident, is chairman of the Rutgers Department of Human Ecology.

Since joining the Rutgers faculty, he and his team have examined how people view other environmental risks such as radon, air and water pollution, and climate change.

He also examined what people think about germs, bioterrorism, Lyme disease, mad cow disease, avian influenza, Zika virus, and COVID-19.

“The goal is to understand how people think, so we can do a better job of communicating to them about risk,” Hallman said.

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A psychologist, Hallman collaborates with colleagues in the social, physical, biological, environmental, and medical sciences. He also advises federal and international agencies.

Much of his work focuses on foods. In the 1990s, he published one of the first studies on public perceptions of genetically modified foods. More recently, he has looked at how cell-cultured meat, poultry, and seafood products should be labeled. ■


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