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.


Publication History

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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Nicholas Good
Research Scientist
Casey Quinn
Research Scientist
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Eric Wendt
PhD Student
Jacob Fontenot
Graduate Student
Kristen Fedak
Alumni - PhD
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Kelsey Bilsback
Alumni - PhD
Ethan Walker
Alumni - PhD
Lizette Van Zyl
Alumni - Masters
Tom Cole-Hunder
Alumni - Post Doc

A low-cost monitor for simultaneous measurement of fine particulate matter and aerosol optical depth–Part 1: Specifications and testing

Wendt E. et al.

Globally, fine particulate matter (PM2.5) air pollution is a leading contributor to death, disease, and environmental degradation. Satellite-based measurements of aerosol optical depth (AOD) are used to estimate PM2.5 concentrations across the world, but the relationship between satellite-estimated AOD and ground-level PM2.5 is uncertain. Sun photometers measure AOD from the Earth’s surface and are often used to improve satellite data; however, reference-grade photometers and PM2.5 monitors are expensive and rarely co-located. This work presents the development and validation of the aerosol mass and optical depth (AMOD) sampler, an inexpensive and compact device that simultaneously measures PM2.5 mass and AOD…

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Acute differences in pulse wave velocity, augmentation index, and central pulse pressure following controlled exposures to cookstove air pollution in the Subclinical Tests of…

Walker E. et al.

Household air pollution emitted from solid-fuel cookstoves used for domestic cooking is a leading risk factor for morbidity and premature mortality globally. There have been attempts to design and distribute lower emission cookstoves, yet it is unclear if they meaningfully improve health. Using a crossover design, we assessed differences in central aortic hemodynamics and arterial stiffness following controlled exposures to air pollution emitted from five different cookstove technologies compared to a filtered air control…

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Variation in gravimetric correction factors for nephelometer-derived estimates of personal exposure to PM2. 5

Tryner J. et al.

Abstract: Many portable monitors for quantifying mass concentrations of particulate matter air pollution rely on aerosol light scattering as the measurement method; however, the relationship between scattered light (what is measured) and aerosol mass concentration (the metric of interest) is a complex function of the refractive index, size distribution, and shape of the particles. In this study, we compared 33-h personal PM2.5 concentrations measured simultaneously using nephelometry (personal DataRAM pDR-1200) and gravimetric filter sampling for working adults (44 participants, 249 samples). Nephelometer- and filter-derived 33-h average PM2.5 concentrations were correlated…

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C‐reactive Protein from Dried Blood Spots: Application to Household Air Pollution Field Studies

Young B. et al.

Abstract: Household air pollution (HAP) is estimated to be an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease, but little clinical evidence exists and collecting biomarkers of disease risk is difficult in low‐resource settings. Among 54 Nicaraguan women with wood‐burning cookstoves, we evaluated cross‐sectional associations between 48‐hour measures of HAP (e.g., fine particulate matter, PM2.5) and C‐reactive protein (CRP) via dried blood spots; secondary analyses included seven additional systemic injury and inflammatory biomarkers. We conducted sub‐studies to calculate the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) in biomarkers collected over four consecutive days in…

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