Environmental Health Research

The Memphis PAHs Study
Chunrong Jia, PhD

Dr. Jia's research interest is in human exposure to air pollutants and the associated health effects. His research initiatives include: (1) assessing exposure to air pollutants in various environments such as homes, offices, schools, vehicles, and workplaces; (2) examining environmental disparities in air pollution exposure; (3) developing measurement methods for trace-level toxic chemicals present in air, food, water, and dust; (4) assessing home energy insecurity and health. Dr. Jia and his collaborators are operating University of Memphis Environmental Exposure Laboratories (UMEELs) that are capable of analyzing a variety of chemical and microbiological agents including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), particulate matter (PM), flame retardants, phthalates, molds, bacteria and viruses.

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Research in Microbial Safety of Food and Environment
Pratik Banerjee, PhD, MTech

Dr. Pratik Banerjee is leading an interdisciplinary research program in microbial food safety in collaboration with US FDA, USDA, Tennessee Department of Health, Shelby County Health Department (SCHD), industry, major US and International Universities, and departments within the University of Memphis. Several MPH and doctoral students are involved in Dr. Banerjee's research projects. Click here for a full description.

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Urban Environment and Health Behavior
Yong Yang, PhD

Dr. Yang focuses on the urban environment and health behavior. He is motivated to examine how people's health behavior is influenced by the built and social environment, to estimate the corresponding impacts on human health, and to explore opportunities for policy interventions. His research methodology is the integration of statistical analysis, spatial analysis and geographical information systems, and system science methods. Dr. Yang's ongoing and previous projects include the influence of neighborhood environment on physical activity, urban environment and aging, mobility and health, neighborhood environment and childhood obesity in Memphis, adults' daily walking, and children's active travel to school. 

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Environmental Health in Rural Haiti
Debra Bartelli, DrPH

One area of Dr. Bartelli's research focuses on aspects of environmental health in a rural community in Haiti's Central Plateau. Working with several MPH students, Dr. Bartelli has collected data on source and point of use water quality, barriers to use of effective sanitation practices, and the effectiveness of treating soil-transmitted helminths on children's growth and development. Click here for a link to a recent article written in collaboration with Dr. Pratik Banerjee, doctoral student, Nabanita Mukherjee, and MPH students, Cyril Patra and Bhavin Chauhan detailing some of this work.

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DRONES Research

Chunrong Jia, PhD

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are playing a starring role in many other Institute-funded projects, including one headed by Dr. Chunrong Jia of the School of Public Health, who believes UAVs can be used to efficiently profile air pollution, a significant concern in cities like Memphis. According to Jia, the current monitoring capacity is insufficient for the reliable evaluation of public health risk.

"We need to do a better job of monitoring, identifying emission sources and implementing effective pollution control strategies," he says.

The UAV platform Dr. Jia is working on will be capable of real-time monitoring of multiple air pollutants. The design will require next generation lightweight sensors, autonomous methods of sample collection, real-time data collection and imaging, and the ability to fly pre-determined pathways for sufficient amounts of time.