Yuko Yadatsu Ekyalongo is an associate data scientist in the early childhood research area. She received her Master’s degree in Environmental Health Sciences from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. During her program, Yuko conducted statistical and spatial analysis for the Healthy Rural and Urban Kids study (Healthy Kids) at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). The study measured concentrations of air pollutants, metals, and pesticides in preschoolers’ urine in industrial North Minneapolis and agricultural Central Minnesota. She examined the participating children’s proximity to pollution sources using publicly available data from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Department of Transportation, and US Census Bureau. She presented her work at the Minnesota Biomonitoring and Environmental Health Tracking Advisory Panel meeting, which is the expert panel established by Minnesota State law. Her work will be used for further analysis of the Healthy Kids study result.
Aside from her quantitative skills, Yuko also has a strong communications background as a former journalist for Japanese non-profit media focused on topics related to Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Latin America. While she was a visiting student at the University of Ghana in West Africa, she covered topics including illegal gold mining, food, fashion, inflation, local conflict, and immigration. She interviewed local government officials, locals, professors, and college students, among others. In 2015, Yuko published a book titled “Ghana Now: Through College Students’ Eyes,” compiling all the articles she wrote. She also has experience in qualitative data collection and analysis through working on the 2018 Community Health Needs Assessment at Fairview Health Services.
Because of her background in international relations and her personal experience as a first-generation immigrant mother, Yuko is very passionate about improving the health and social outcomes of immigrant, racial minority, and low-income children. At Child Trends, she is learning how early childhood education and environmental health overlap, and how it is important to raise awareness among practitioners and policymakers on the issues that affect both children and the childcare workforce. In the intersection of early childhood and environmental health justice, she hopes to explore more about programs like Choose Safe Places for Early Care and Education by the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry (ATSDR). This program partners with State agencies to ensure childcare facilities are in a safe environment free from toxic substances for children and workers.