Five Questions With Joel Nigg, Hellraiser

Joel Nigg, Hellraiser

Joel Nigg has been supporting Mother Jones as a member of the Hellraisers for nearly a decade. In addition to being a practicing psychologist and research scientist, he is a co-founder of the Northwest Friends of the Union of Concerned Scientists in Oregon. His expertise has recently allowed him to become a journalist himself in an Oregonian guest editorial on environmental toxicants and children’s health. His commitment to his community extends to volunteer work with his church’s homeless ministry that serves 200 meals a day. We asked him to tell us a bit about his work and why he supports Mother Jones.

Mother Jones: Tell us a little bit about yourself. What kind of work do you do? What are you passionate about?

Joel Nigg: I am a clinical psychologist who works as a research scientist, searching for causes of child attention and learning problems, commonly called ADHD. My team investigates natural subtypes, neuropsychology, genetics, and brain imaging. My intellectual interest here has to do with mapping the interplay of genes and environments in the development of cognition and brain in ADHD so we can identify earlier, determine which kids have injuries and which just have extreme temperament, and do a better job predicting who really needs treatment or else preventing the problem. Part of the work we have explored is the role of lead in ADHD and its interaction with genotype.

I have a strong passion for seeing science inform reasoned policy, for environmental issues, and for children’s health issues.

What first brought you to Mother Jones?

I was seeking an independent, progressive source of information to balance other input that I was getting from various media. I found MJ had a fresh, interesting selection of articles and the material was accessible.

Why do you make supporting Mother Jones a priority in your philanthropic giving?

I see one of the major challenges in our nation as being well-informed discussion and debate on critical issues. We need media that will bring new information, and in particular there is a real lack of effective media from a progressive perspective. Therefore, I support MJ because the need for independent media is so paramount; having a progressive slant is an added bonus since this is so unusual in our current media landscape. I also appreciate that MJ is moving online, staying current with technology. I see a strong level of professionalism, so it’s a natural choice for me to support.

How do you feel Mother Jones makes a difference in the issues you care about most?

Mother Jones develops information that would otherwise remain hidden. By stirring up stories that would otherwise be ignored; by pushing the national discourse into talking about information or perspectives that would otherwise be omitted from the public discussion.

What is one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?

I am an avid trainer of German Shepherd dogs in a past life.