Major Research Projects

A Community-Engaged Air Quality Monitoring Network in Imperial County, CA

How can a community-engaged process improve the collection of air quality data to reduce health impacts?

My group is providing low-cost networked particulate matter air quality monitoring technology for a community-engaged research study in Imperial County, CA.  This county has the highest rates of asthma in all of California.  And, PM levels exceed federal and state ambient air quality standards.  We are working with community groups and residents, and other air quality stakeholders to design a new community-operated air quality network, that will inform our understanding of air pollution hotspots, which in turn may lead to actions to alleviate the health impacts of PM air pollution.

 

The Bay Area Near Roadway Sensor (BANRS) Study

How can we better estimate exposures to roadway traffic pollution through the use of low-cost networked sensors?

My group is deploying a dense network of low-cost traffic-related air pollution sensors in and around major roads in the Oakland, CA region of the San Francisco Bay Area.  Data from the network will be used to examine alternative approaches to estimate human exposures to roadway traffic-related air pollution.  In this study we will also examine exposures that may occur through typical commute behavior in this region.

 

The Twins Portable University of Washington Particle (PUWP) Monitor Study

What are the relationships between air pollution and noise exposures, physical activity, and biomarkers of systemic inflammation and oxidative stress?

My group has developed the Portable University of Washington Particle (PUWP) monitor – a personal exposure instrument that measures multiple aspects of environmental exposure (PM, allergen, endotoxin, noise) and physical activity.  We are deploying the PUWP in UW Twins cohort to understand the relationships between these factors and systemic inflammation and oxidative stress — two biological mechanisms that affect both acute and chronic disease. By studying monozygotic twins, our study will be able to tease out the effect of environmental exposures from both genetic factors and family history.

 

The Total Exposure Monitoring Unit (TEMU) for Pediatric Asthma

Can we develop an integrated exposure monitoring system using wearable and non-wearable sensors for use in pediatric asthma research to gain insights into the environmental determinants of asthma?

My research team will develop and test a new version of the Portable University of Washington Particle (PUWP) monitor – a personal exposure instrument that collects particles that may be analyzed using a household appliance that can characterize a number of potential environmental asthma triggers.  We will work closely with other research groups in the NIH PRISMS Consortium to integrate sensor systems with other informatics storage, analysis, and visualization platforms, as well as a data and software integration center. 

 

A Systems Science Approach to Studying Community-based Interventions on Obesity

Can complex models improve our understanding of the interplay between and effect of different community programs on obesity levels in Los Angeles, CA?

My group is a member of a task force working to develop various systems science approaches (e.g., causal structural models, agent-based models, etc.) to examine the impact of different types of community–based obesity intervention programs. Obesity is one of the largest public health problems in the United States.  In Los Angeles, funding and decades of work has gone into programs aimed at reducing the obesity epidemic.  These programs have had mixed results across the county.  Using participant data from the Women Infants and Children (WIC) program we will develop new models to examine the effect of community-based obesity prevention programs.

 

CalFit Smartphone app for Exposure Assessment Studies

How do individual-level behaviors affect exposures to environmental hazards that impact human health?

My group developed a smartphone app that runs on Android phones called CalFit.  The app uses sensors and algorithms to understand time-activity patterns, physical activity, and exposures to various environmental hazards.  Different versions of the app have been applied to studies around the world. The goal of some studies is to understand the relationship between the built environment and physical activity.  Other studies are exploring how the built environment is related to dietary behavior.  Still other studies are using the app to assess exposures to traffic, air pollution, greenspace, and noise.  The app has been used by various groups, including CREAL, the EU PHENOTYPE study, USC, UNC, Kunming Medical School, Shanghai CDC, Aalborg University, and UC Berkeley.