Our Mission

Our mission is to use engineering fundamentals to solve air pollution problems that we face as a society. We are a multidisciplinary group that values hard work, innovation, and a sense of play. Our research is designed to make a positive impact on our health and welfare. Learn More

Our Work

Our work is best described as Engineering for Public Health.  When asked to imagine scientific discoveries that have led to dramatic improvements to public health, what comes to mind? Often, people point to vaccine discoveries or antimicrobial drugs; certainly those biomedical discoveries have saved countless lives.  But what about the seat belt? Or the refrigerator? The catalytic converter? Chlorinated drinking water?  Each of these engineering discoveries has also saved the lives of millions. We have known for hundreds of years that our external environment shapes the picture of our health. Today, the need for public health engineers is greater than ever.

Our group is developing the next generation of innovative leaders armed with the interdisciplinary skills needed to solve today’s complex public and environmental health problems. Our specific interests lie with air pollution, which places a tremendous burden on the health of our communities, our workforce, and our environment. Humans are exposed to air pollution from a variety of sources in nearly every aspect of life: at work, home, and outdoors. As researchers, our goals are 1) to understand the adverse impacts of air pollution on human and environmental health and 2) to engineer solutions to the air pollution problems we face as a society.


Developing the next generation of Wearable Sensors Learn More
Improving global air quality through Improved Cookstoves Learn More

The Team

Dr. John Volckens
Professor, Mechanical Engineering
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Dr. Christian L'Orange
Associate Director, Center for Energy Development & Health
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John Mehaffy
Lab Manager
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Tom Cole-Hunder
Postdoctoral Fellow
Nicholas Good
Research Scientist
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Casey Quinn
Phd Candidate
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Kristen Fedak
Phd Candidate
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Lizette van Zyl
Research Assistant
Kelsey Bilsback
Phd Candidate
Ethan Walker
PhD Student
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Eric Wendt
Masters Student

Quantifying the contribution to uncertainty in mortality attributed to household, ambient, and joint exposure to PM2.5 from residential solid-fuel use

Kodros J. et al.

Abstract: While there have been substantial efforts to quantify the health burden of exposure to PM2.5from solid-fuel use (SFU), the sensitivity of mortality estimates to uncertainties in input parameters has not been quantified. Moreover, previous studies separate mortality from household and ambient air pollution. In this study, we develop a new estimate of mortality attributable to SFU due to the joint exposure from household and ambient PM2.5 pollution and perform a variance-based sensitivity analysis on mortality attributable to SFU.

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An accurate filter loading correction is essential for assessing personal exposure to black carbon using an Aethalometer

Good, N. et al.

Abstract: The AE51 micro-Aethalometer (microAeth) is a popular and useful tool for assessing personal exposure to particulate black carbon (BC). However, few users of the AE51 are aware that its measurements are biased low (by up to 70%) due to the accumulation of BC on the filter substrate over time; previous studies of personal black carbon exposure are likely to have suffered from this bias…

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Development and evaluation of an ultrasonic personal aerosol sampler

Volckens, J. et al.

Abstract: Assessing personal exposure to air pollution has long proven challenging due to technological limitations posed by the samplers themselves. Historically, wearable aerosol monitors have proven to be expensive, noisy, and burdensome. The objective of this work was to develop a new type of wearable monitor, an ultrasonic personal aerosol sampler (UPAS), to overcome many of the technological limitations in personal exposure assessment. The UPAS is a time-integrated monitor that features a novel micropump that is virtually silent during operation….

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Effects of operational mode on particle size and number emissions from a biomass gasifier cookstove

Tryner, J. et al.

Interest in the size distribution of particles emitted from biomass cookstoves stems from the hypothesis that exposure to ultrafine particles is more detrimental to human health than exposure to accumulation mode or other size regimes. Previous studies have reported that gasifier cookstoves emit smaller particles than other cookstove designs under steady operating conditions. In the present study, the number size distribution of particles emitted from a forced-air gasifier cookstove was measured at 1 Hz as the stove transitioned between several steady and transient operating modes…

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