Standing up to big companies is daunting enough. Getting them to clean up the PFAS chemicals they've let seep into our land, water, and communities for decades even more so. But attorney AJ Birkbeck selflessly did both.
Under his guidance, a ragtag group of citizens moved our federal government to force a company to clean up the PFAS it spilled into the city of Rockford over decades—chemicals tied to cancers, liver disease, and cardiovascular problems. This put PFAS pollution in the public consciousness, spurring Michigan to adopt among the first PFAS regulations in the nation.
Birkbeck then created the PFAS Alliance, which gives people the support, connections, and resources they need to protect communities from PFAS at the local, state, or even national level.
When AJ Birkbeck passed away in late 2021, the PFAS Alliance and the Michigan Environmental Council came together to form the AJ Birkbeck Scholarship Fund, made possible by the generous donations of dozens of compassionate people.
Each year, we'll award one student from a Michigan college or university at least $3,000 to complete and share a PFAS research project. The project fields can vary from environmental health to social science, but they must embody the vision of the PFAS Alliance and the spirit of Birkbeck himself—a collaborator, a strategist, a protector, and a mentor.
Applications for the AJ Birkbeck Scholarship are now open until April 1, 2024.