New P01 Center To Examine the Role of Human Mobility in Infectious Disease Transmission

My group will be working with researchers from UC Davis on a newly awarded NIH P01 Center Grant, “Quantifying Heterogeneities in Dengue Virus Transmission Dynamics”, a 5-year $7.3 million study that will examine as one of its aims, the role of human mobility on contributing to virus transmission and spread.  The study builds upon previous studies conducted by UC Davis researchers on dengue transmission in Iquitos, Peru.  My group is involved in the data core project for the new center.


Congratulations — David Holstius graduates

Congratulations to David Holstius, who graduated over the weekend with a PhD in Environmental Health Sciences.  David’s dissertation, entitled “Monitoring Particulate Matter with Commodity Hardware”, describes work he’s done to develop and utilize lower-cost PM instruments for improved exposure assessment and environmental epidemiological studies.

New Study to Develop Methods to Analyze Ecological Momentary Assessment Data

Just heard, NIH NHLBI will fund a new study with collaborators from USC (Genevieve Dunton, Mary Ann Pentz, and Chih-Ping Chou), UC Berkeley (Michael Jerrett), and Northeastern (Stephen Intille), and UW (Edmund Seto) to develop new statistical modeling approaches to analyze large data from Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) studies.

This new study builds upon the work we’ve done with the CalFit system, using smartphone-based EMAs to study the associations between mood, physical activity, and a person’s environment.

Sensor Networks for Environmental Journalism

I’m participating in this event organized by Internews at Berkeley on April 30th. I’ll report soon on the technology I’m developing for this project…

Groundtruth and Airwaves: Sensor Networks and Emerging Technology for Environmental Journalism

Technology–as remote as satellites and as close as our smartphones–offers new opportunities for collecting data about environmental topics. Evidence of rising sea levels, poor air quality, noise pollution and more can now be gathered from wireless sensor networks, open public data sets, and user-generated data from social media platforms. These tools make it simpler to gather, analyze and visualize data, helping to drive news stories for journalists and more thoughtful engagement and advocacy by activists.

“Groundtruth and Airwaves” will showcase a number of newsworthy environmental and health-related sensor projects currently underway. After a session of Lightning Talks, working journalists from around the world will join a panel of technology experts and research scientists to explore opportunities and challenges found at the nexus of DIY sensors, crowdsourced data, and environmental and health journalism.

Teaching (Old and New)

In the past I’ve taught a few years of a Public Health-focused GIS course at Berkeley.  And since 2006, I’ve taught a graduate-level course on Health Impact Assessment with Rajiv Bhatia.  I’ve also co-taught the MPH-breadth course, Introduction to Environmental Health with Kirk Smith, and even an accelerated online version of the course.  I was teaching both semesters, 9 months out of the year.

Because UW is on a quarter system, my required teaching load is less, and there are already existing courses in some of the previous topics that I’ve taught, I have some flexibility in teaching in new areas.  To get a feel for the quarter system and teaching at UW in general, I’ll be co-teaching with Chris Simpson, ENVH 555 Instrumental Methods for Industrial Hygiene Measurement: Laboratory.  I’m also planning to contribute some lectures and time to Andy Dannenberg’s HIA course, ENVH 536/URBDP536: Health Impact Assessment.

Moving forward, I’ll probably introduce a couple new courses of my own.  The first in the fall will likely be a GIS course that makes use of the excellent computer teaching facilities within the school.  As usual for my courses, there will be strong practical element to the assignments, and projects that allow students to learn-by-doing and by interacting with other students in teams.

A quantitative microbial risk assessment of water reuse for California’s agricultural irrigation

The current drought in California highlights how precious a resource water is to the lives of California residents, the state’s natural ecosystems, and its agricultural economy. Over the last few decades, recycled water — the reuse of treated wastewater — has played an important role in meeting ever increasing demands for water.  Since the early days of water reuse, questions concerning the safety to public health have been raised numerous times.  And, the practice of quantitative microbial risk assessment has responded by evaluating the efficacy of treatment processes on the removal of infectious agents in wastewater, and by assessing quantitatively using risk models, the potential for water reuse to result in infection and disease in human populations through various exposure scenarios.

I was involved in the quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) modeling for a recent review of water reuse for California’s agricultural irrigation.  The QMRA was part of a process that involved input from a panel of experts, who addressed a number of issues relevant to developing assumptions for the QMRA, as well as relevant to the interpretation of the QMRA’s findings.  The panel and QMRA were commissioned by the California Department of Public Health, which recognized the need to reassess risks given the potential for increasing water reuse in agricultural irrigation, improved knowledge of the concentrations of microbial pathogens found in wastewater, and new treatment processes.  The report of the findings from this process is available here.


NOx dispersion modeling for the Black Women’s Study

For the NIH-funded Black Women’s Health Study, my group is estimating exposures to traffic-related air and noise pollution.  Previously, the traffic noise modeling was described here.

I now have preliminary results for NOx (NO and NO2) traffic air pollution dispersion model.  The model uses the best available roadway geometries, and traffic data, and emissions modeling to derive estimates of exposures.  Moreover, the exposure assessment methodology can be run anywhere in the U.S.  The figure shown is a coarse resolution example of the model applied to 5 boroughs of New York City. But, the model is being run to estimate NOx concentrations at the exact residential address of each person in the Black Women’s Health Study.

Currently the model makes use of parallel computing on a high performance cluster so that hundreds of thousands of exposures can be estimated in reasonable amounts of time.

For another application of our traffic air pollutant model see this, as well as recent the publication in Circulation, and conference proceeding from the 2013 Air & Waste Management Association 106th Annual Conference.


New paper on air quality modeling using real-time traffic data — NOKIA ClearSky project

Over the last couple years, UC Berkeley researchers (Professors Bayen, Glaser, and Seto) have collaborated with NOKIA on the ClearSky project to use state of the art traffic data from sensors and models to estimate air pollution in metropolitan areas. This builds off of progress our group has made towards the development of flexible interfaces to traffic pollution models.  In particular, the ClearSky project makes use of the Rcaline package developed by PhD student, David Holstius.  This forthcoming paper describes how various data and models are integrated into the ClearSky system:

Samaranayake S, Holstius D, Monteil J, Tracton K, Glaser S, Seto E, Bayen A (accepted) Real-time estimation of pollution emissions and dispersion from highway traffic.Computer-aided Civil and Infrastructure Engineering



Crazy Travel Schedule

Despite efforts to reduce my travel, this month I’m running all over the world.  Not good.

But what was good…

At Wireless Health 2013 conference in Baltimore I attended a workshop organized by IDEO — pretty much THE gurus of industrial design. Learned something about their design process, which will be really helpful as my research group designs and develops more technology for Environmental Health.  Got to admit, it also renewed my excitement about innovation and entrepreneurship.

PHENOTYPE project meeting in Utrecht.  Everyone’s making great progress.  Good to see all the partners.  Relieved that we came up with concrete plans for the next year.  Extra day in Amsterdam was fun.

Now in Chengdu.  Quietly catching up with work — Did an all-nighter and made MAJOR progress on instruments for the upcoming HEI and China NSF projects.  Giving a talk on mobile technologies for public health to Sichuan CDC tomorrow.

Still to come… quick visit to Yunnan to check on current field work and to plan for next year, then to Korea — 2 talks at Seoul National University.