Sarah Surber

Sarah Surber

Assistant Professor

Sarah Surber


 Public Health

Dr. Sarah Surber is an assistant professor with a background in environmental justice and environmental public health. Her academic research focus includes environmental policy and law, particularly for the impacts on community public health in vulnerable health populations. 

She is currently researching the health and financial impacts from environmental pollution in air, water, and waste; occupational violence affecting the workforce; the opioid epidemic; and outcomes for children in foster care, as well as their foster and kinship caregivers. Her research experience includes working with and forming connections between community groups and organizations at state and local levels.

She has also practiced environmental law for over a decade, including environmental litigation and regulatory law in air, water, waste, and toxic torts in law firms, as well as in state regulatory agencies.

Her educational background includes a master of science in environmental science, law degree, and doctorate in occupational and environmental public health.


  • Ph.D., Occupational and Environmental Public Health, West Virginia University, 2017
  • J.D., West Virginia University College of Law, 2006
  • M.S., Environmental Science, Marshall University, 2012
  • B.A., Political Science, Marshall University, 2003

Selected publications

Sarah J. Surber, OSHA Enforcement to Protect Health Care Workers from Violence, American Journal of Public Health, 111(5): 829-831 (2021). 

Supporting Children and Families in West Virginia 2019-2020: Foster Care, Kinship, and Adoptive Parents and Caregivers in West Virginia,

Sarah J. Surber, A Conceptual Model for Integrating Community Health in Managing Remediation of West Virginia and Central Appalachia’s Abandoned Coal Mines, Environment, Development, & Sustainability, 23: 1563-1578 (2021). DOI 10.1007/s10668-020-00638-9.

Sarah J. Surber & David S. Simonton, Disparate Impacts of Coal Mining and Reclamation Concerns for West Virginia and Central Appalachia, Resources Policy 54(C): 1-8 (2017).

Sarah J. Surber, Environmental Enforcement as a Shield Rather than a Sword: How Environmental Injustice Resulted from Increased Coal Mining Violations after a Settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency, Environmental Justice, 6(5): 169 (2013).


Currently teaching

  •  PH 3500 Environmental Health, 3 credits, 2 sections, Fall 2021