Exposure Sciences and Environmental Epidemiology
Human exposure to particulate matter air pollution is linked to increased mortality, exacerbation of asthma and COPD symptoms, decreased respiratory rate and lung function, and increased blood pressure and other cardiovascular disease risks.
Our exposure to environmental air pollution is involuntary and lasts from fetal development through every life stage. Most epidemiological research has focused on ambient air pollution, using data from fixed, outdoor air quality monitors to estimate the population’s exposure and then correlate these area-wide exposures with disease. However, air pollutant concentrations vary temporally and spatially outdoors and these monitors do a poor job of estimating exposures of individuals or indoor exposures. This may be especially important given that American adults spend 60-90 percent of their time indoors and air pollution concentrations often exceed those measured outdoors due to indoor sources. Thus, there is a need to better understand human exposure to air pollution indoors and outdoors and as a function of location and source.
Development of a Sampler for Total Aerosol Deposition in the Human Respiratory Tract
Studies that seek to associate reduced human health with exposure to occupational and environmental aerosols are often hampered by limitations in the exposure assessment process. One limitation involves the measured exposure metric itself. Current methods for personal exposure assessment are designed to estimate the aspiration of aerosol into the human body. Since a large proportion of inhaled aerosol is subsequently exhaled, a portion of the aspirated aerosol will not contribute to the dose. This leads to variable exposure misclassification (for heterogenous exposures) and increased uncertainty in health effect associations. Alternatively, a metric for respiratory deposition would provide a more physiologically relevant estimate of risk. To address this challenge, we have developed a method to estimate the deposition of aerosol in the human respiratory tract using a sampler engineered from polyurethane foam.
Jacqueline Agnew, PhD
The goal of Agnew's research is to better understand the relationship between workplace exposures, worker characteristics, and musculoskeletal disorders so that these debilitating and expensive conditions can be prevented.
Dan Barnett, MD
Joseph Bressler, PhD
Dr. Bressler's laboratory studyies transporters and their interaction with environmental toxins.
Jessie Buckley, PhD
Dr. Buckley's research is grounded in the developmental origins of health and disease framework and focuses on determining effects of early life exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals. She is actively engaged in evaluating the environmental obesogen hypothesis, which posits that chemical exposures during critical developmental windows can result in permanent changes that predispose individuals toward obesity.
Meghan Davis, DVM, PhD
As part of Davis' research goals, she evaluates non-infection outcomes, specifically asthma, from exposure to bacterial agents and their toxic products. Designing and testing interventions to combat the rise of bacterial antimicrobial resistance and both infection and non-infection outcomes related to microbial exposures in a one health context is the goal of her research career.
Chris Heaney, PhD
Heaney's research focuses on environmentally-mediated impacts on health and well-being, specifically community land use, waste disposal, and food production practices, and integrates the academic disciplines of environmental microbiology, molecular biology, atmospheric chemistry, epidemiology, and community-based participatory research (CBPR).
Kirsten Koehler, PhD
Koehler's goals are to improve exposure assessment methods to inform occupational and public health policy. Her research goals involve the use of direct-reading instrumentation to improve spatiotemporal exposure assessment.
Gurumurthy "Ram" Ramachandran, PhD
Ramachandran has conducted research in various areas relating to human exposure assessment in occupational and non-occupational settings. His research has included the development of robust occupational exposure assessment strategies for a variety of airborne contaminants. He has pioneered the use of novel Bayesian statistical methods that synthesize exposure models, monitoring data, and probabilistic expert judgment.
Kellogg Schwab, PhD
Schwab’s research focuses on environmental microbiology and engineering with an emphasis on the fate and transport of pathogenic microorganisms in water, food and the environment. This work includes extensive laboratory-based research designed to develop and evaluate molecular detection methods with subsequent application of these methods in field-based investigations. Data gathered during these studies are then integrated into exposure assessments for risk analysis and microbial risk assessment.
Fenna Sillé, PhD
The focus of Dr. Sillé's research is understanding the effects of environmental exposures on the development and function of our immune system. Her major research directions are:
1. Understanding the long-term effects of early-life arsenic exposures on immunity and (infectious) disease risk. - Currently studying the interaction between arsenic and tuberculosis,
2. Establishing an integrated platform for immunotoxicity testing of early-life chemical exposures,
3. Investigating the effects early-life exposures on immunological memory and vaccine efficacy.
Genee Smith, PhD
Dr. Smith explores disease patterns with the aim to expand upon the knowledge of understudied relationships between climate change and infectious respiratory diseases, including conditions such as Tuberculosis and Influenza. Her research examines how climate change has the ability to modify exposure to disease, alter host susceptibility to disease, and impact disease morbidity.