University of Louisiana alumna and MacArthur 'Genius' grantee Wilma Subra has been named the Domestic Honoree for the 2011 Human Rights Awards.  She joins the International Honoree Pablo Solón, Bolivian Ambassador to the United Nations, and an as-yet-to-be-named People's Choice Honoree.

Wilma Subra’s career as a chemist required that she travel extensively throughout the country, conducting tests on behalf of corporations. Often times, she found information about potential hazards to the communities she visited, but the restrictions of her position prevented her from sharing what she found. As time passed, she found it difficult to reconcile her silence with what she knew to be right.

Finally, she decided she could no longer work for the corporations doing so much harm to so many. So, she went into business for the people–forming the Subra Company, to provide testing and knowledge on behalf of Louisiana citizens in the fight to protect their lives and livelihoods. Bringing her expertise in chemistry and microbiology to bear, Wilma now provides scientific evidence for communities to back up their claims when it comes time to go toe to toe with corporate criminals.

She has worked with communities impacted by natural gas drilling in Texas is and Wyoming, has helped communities living near polluted shipyards in San Francisco, and covered the potential impacts of importing Italian nuclear waste through New Orleans. She has trained people in rural areas in techniques for monitoring the health of the communities in which they live — gathering data on air quality and the impact of harmful emissions.

In 1999, Wilma received a MacArthur 'Genius' Grant for her work protecting communities, and she served as vice-chair of the EPA National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology (NACEPT). In every capacity, at every turn, she has used her expertise and quiet diligence to help communities in need and spread the word about industry abuses.

Following the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico resulting from the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, Wilma has been on the frontlines of the struggle for truth. B.P. has consistently claimed that there is no more danger, but Wilma has been relentless in exposing the disastrous reality: oil coating the bottom of the ocean, oil continuing to wash up on shore, oil destroying the life cycles of countless organisms. The challenge of responding to the Gulf oil spill is massive, but Wilma is undeterred. She will continue as she has for the past thirty years: putting her expertise to work, battling a toxic industry with public good.

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