Publications by authors named "Erica Zhen"

2 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Public restrooms, periods, and people experiencing homelessness: An assessment of public toilets in high needs areas of Manhattan, New York.

PLoS One 2021 23;16(6):e0252946. Epub 2021 Jun 23.

Department of Sociomedical Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY, United States of America.

Access to safe, clean water and sanitation is globally recognized as essential for public health. Public toilets should be accessible to all members of a society, without social or physical barriers preventing usage. A public toilet facility's design and upkeep should offer privacy and safety, ensure cleanliness, provide required sanitation-related resources, and be gender equitable, including enabling comfortable and safe management of menstruation. Menstrual hygiene management (MHM) refers to the need to ensure that girls, women and all people who menstruate have access to clean menstrual products, privacy to change the materials as often as needed, soap and water for washing the body as required, and access to facilities to dispose of used materials. Challenges around menstruation faced by people experiencing homelessness, which tend to be greater than those facing the general population, include inadequate toilet and bathing facilities, affordability issues around menstrual products, and menstrual stigma. Public toilets are a vital resource for managing menstruation, particularly for vulnerable populations without reliable access to private, safe, and clean spaces and menstrual products. This mixed-methods study sought to: 1) understand the lived experiences of MHM among people experiencing homelessness in New York City with respect to public toilets; 2) describe general and MHM-related characteristics of public toilets in high need areas of Manhattan and analyze their interrelationships; and 3) examine the associations among neighborhood-level demographics and the public toilet characteristics in those areas. Qualitative methods included key informant interviews (n = 15) and in-depth interviews (n = 22) with people with experience living on the street or in shelters, which were analyzed using Malterud's 'systematic text condensation' for thematic cross-case analysis. Quantitative methods included audits and analyses of public toilet facilities (n = 25) using traditional statistics (e.g., Spearman's correlations) and spatial analyses (e.g., proximity buffers). Qualitative findings suggest cleanliness, access to restrooms, and availability of resources are critical issues for the participants or prospective users. Quantitative analyses revealed insufficiently provided, maintained, and resourced public toilets for managing menstruation in high-needs areas. Findings also suggest that toilets with more MHM-related resource availability, such as menstrual products and toilet stall disposal bins, were more difficult to access. Neighborhood-level characteristics showed a potential environmental injustice, as areas characterized by higher socioeconomic status are associated with more access to MHM-specific resources in public restrooms, as well as better overall quality.
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June 2021

Inferring the provenance of an alien species with DNA barcodes: the neotropical butterfly Dryas iulia in Thailand.

PLoS One 2014 13;9(8):e104076. Epub 2014 Aug 13.

Biology Ph.D. Program, Graduate Center, City University of New York, New York, New York, United States of America; Biology Department, City College of New York, City University of New York, New York, New York, United States of America; Entomology Section, National Museum of the Philippines, Manila, Philippines.

The Neotropical butterfly Dryas iulia has been collected from several locations in Thailand and Malaysia since 2007, and has been observed breeding in the wild, using introduced Passiflora foetida as a larval host plant. The butterfly is bred by a butterfly house in Phuket, Thailand, for release at weddings and Buddhist ceremonies, and we hypothesized that this butterfly house was the source of wild, Thai individuals. We compared wing patterns and COI barcodes from two, wild Thai populations with individuals obtained from this butterfly house. All Thai individuals resemble the subspecies D. iulia modesta, and barcodes from wild and captive Thai specimens were identical. This unique, Thai barcode was not found in any of the 30 specimens sampled from the wild in the species' native range, but is most similar to specimens from Costa Rica, where many exporting butterfly farms are located. These data implicate the butterfly house as the source of Thailand's wild D. iulia populations, which are currently so widespread that eradication efforts are unlikely to be successful.
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April 2015