Employee Spotlight: Alex East

Meet ORAU Employee Alex East. Currently, Alex works as a contractor at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) providing Asbestos Research Support.

As an EPA contractor, and trained Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM) Analyst for mineral fibers, Alex has been working in the National Exposure Research Laboratory (NERL) to better understand the risks associated with asbestos, a known pollutant. Though asbestos is regulated by the Clean Air Act and the Toxic Substances Control Act, the mineral is not banned in the United States. As the pollutant becomes harmful once it enters the air, current EPA research focuses on how naturally occurring abestiform fibers in soil and mining tailings become airborne from various human activities and wind. Additional research is being conducted on sampling techniques used to quantify asbestos in both soil and air. By ensuring the use of reliable instrumentation, consistent measurement methods and exposure levels, the EPA can better understand the present risks of the fiber.


Alex earned a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Policy and Management with minors in Math and Economics from the University of North Carolina at Asheville. Eventually, he hopes to pursue graduate studies related to human health and the environment.

#OutsideTheLab, Alex participates in ultramarathon running, defined as any race spanning farther than a traditional marathon. As a twenty-year old, Alex was the youngest person to complete a 100-mile distance event in Ohio. Since then, he has competed in similar events in Tennessee and West Virginia with running times ranging from 23-29 hours. “I love to get out there and challenge myself,” Alex said. “It’s definitely had an overwhelmingly positive effect on my career and mental health.” Up next, he plans to attempt a 135-mile race through Death Valley, California, known as the Badwater 135.