Teresa Coons is currently the Executive Director for the John McConnell Math and Science Center of Western Colorado, where she works with volunteers and staff to “create enthusiasm and excitement for math and science.” She received her undergraduate degree from Colorado State University in physical sciences and a PhD in immunology from the University of New Mexico. Her research career has spanned the disciplines of basic and clinical research, most recently focusing on occupational and environmental epidemiology, including health-related impacts of mining industry operations in the western United States. Over the years, Dr. Coons’ research has involved collaboration with federal, state and local governments, citizen advisory committees and grassroots activist groups. Until January of 2009, Dr. Coons was the Senior Scientist for the Saccomanno Research Institute in Grand Junction, Colorado, where she directed the scientific research programs associated with St. Mary’s Hospital and Medical Center, including participation in multi-institutional collaborations investigating genetic markers of susceptibility to lung cancer, childhood asthma, the effects of tobacco smoke components on immune function, and early detection of lung cancer. Dr. Coons was also the organizer and, for six years, the Director of a federally funded medical screening program for former uranium workers under the Radiation Exposure Screening and Education Program. From 2005-2008, she was the Principal Investigator for a Community Health Risk Assessment of the impacts of natural gas operations on residents of Garfield County, CO. This study was commissioned by the Garfield County Commissioners and was published online by the Garfield County Department of Health, Environmental Health Division.
Teresa is a 4th generation Coloradoan, having been born and raised in the Denver area. She and her husband Frank (a veterinarian) have two adult daughters and three grandchildren. Teresa holds an Adjunct Faculty position at Colorado Mesa University, where she teaches undergraduate courses, most recently, “Bioethics” and “Epidemiology”. She has held Adjunct faculty positions at the University of Colorado-Denver Health Sciences Center, and was a member of the Dean’s Council for the College of Natural Sciences at Colorado State University. For the past three years, she taught a course on “Energy Science & Policy” for Mesa County high school students, that explores our energy resources, energy economics and technologies, and the social and policy ramifications of our energy choices.
In her “other life”, she is active in the Grand Junction community, having served two terms as a member of the Grand Junction City Council (and one term as Mayor), nine years on the Mesa County Board of Health, eight years on the Grand Junction Housing Authority Board, and as a member of many other local organizations. She was appointed to the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission in 2007, 2010 and 2013, and served on the U.S. EPA’s Local Government Advisory Committee from November 2010 to November 2012. She is also a current member of the advisory boards for the graduate and undergraduate nursing programs and for the mechanical engineering program at Colorado Mesa University.