Mobile Technologies in Action for Thai Parasite Study

Some progress on the new R21 O. viverrini study in Thailand —  Working with Beth Carlton at Univ of Colorado Denver, we have implemented mobile surveys on Google Nexus Tablets using the Open Data Kit developed at UW.

So far the Android tablets have been great. And, we’re set up to collect GPS-tagged field data on fish caught by fishermen working in a set of lakes, where O. viverrini is prevalent.  Data automatically stream into Google servers, which we can review not only in Thailand, but also at the collaborating U.S. research sites (UC Berkeley, UC Denver, and UW).

What hazards might lurk in your environmental bubble?

UW ran a story about my group’s recent work with personal environmental monitors.  It highlights development of a new device that we have been using to collect multiple environmental exposures, which is shown in the photo to the left.  This is the Portable UW Particle (PUWP) monitor.

In the news story, instead of showing the tech, they decided to run with a  picture of me in desperate need of a haircut and a clean shirt!


Meiling Gao wins student award at ISEE for distributed sensing research

Meiling Gao won an ISEE Outstanding Student Poster award, for her work, “Population Exposure Assessment Based on a Distributed Network of Low-Cost Continuous Reading PM2.5 Sensors in Xi’an, China”. Last winter we had an opportunity to deploy a sensor network at Meiling’s research sites in Xi’an to measure the spatial and temporal variations in PM2.5 across the city. We deployed the latest generation of the Personal University of Washington Particle (PUWP) monitor, and calibrated it against the BAM, Dustrak, and Minivol. At each node of the network, we collocated the PUWP with a Minivol for further validation of the network’s performance. The deployment was completed in collaboration with the Institute of Earth Sciences of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.


ISEE 2014 Talks

“SpaceNeedleQAClose” by MyName (Cacophony) – Own work. Licensed under CC.

The International Society for Exposure Assessment conference is always a fun gathering and learning experience.  This year is special because it’s being held in Seattle at the UW.

Elena Austin will be presenting recent work we’ve done in the laboratory evaluating low cost Shinyei PM sensor.  We’ve looked at its sensitivity to different sized particles.  We’ve integrated this sensor into both fixed site monitors for distributed sensor networks, as well as small battery-operated personal exposure monitors.  This recent work, combined with previous work by David Holstius, has greatly informed our understanding of how to use this sensor in environmental health studies.

Meiling Gao will be presenting her recent research in Xi’an, China.  She will be presenting a talk on her dissertation research looking at the associations between the built environment and mental and physical health using two validated instruments.  Additionally, she will be presenting a poster on her recent findings from her deployment of several Portable University of Washington Particle (PUWP) monitors developed by my lab in a distributed sensor network last winter in Xi’an.  The monitors recorded very high concentrations in the city, provided good spatial temporal data of PM variations, and compared quite nicely against collocated BAM, TSI Dustrak, and Minivols.

Finally, I will be presenting a poster of work that Hilary Ong (UCSF) and collaborators from Kunming Medical University conducted using the PANDA portable monitors a couple years ago in a pilot study in which we developed a model of children’s PM exposures in Kunming, China.


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.