Elena's dissertation draws upon anthropological methods and science and technology studies (STS) to study toxicity, water, science, and racial capitalism in the deindustrialized Great Lakes region, concentrating on Flint, Michigan, and the ongoing water crisis there. In 2018, MIT News published a profile of Elena's research and work at MIT. In 2019, she was a summer fellow at the Institute for Critical Social Inquiry at the New School for Social Research, and a participant in the Quotidian Anthropocene New Orleans field campus. Her dissertation fieldwork is supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation. Before coming to MIT, Elena worked in local crisis management during the Flint water crisis from 2015 to 2016. As assistant director of information and planning with the American Red Cross, she distributed bottled water and filters, worked in volunteer intake, compiled reports and briefings, and also served as a field worker with the Centers for Disease Control as they implemented a Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response study to gather information about water access and mental health in Flint households. Elena graduated with a joint BA in cultural anthropology and music from the University of Michigan-Flint.