UMass Amherst Faculty Member Richard Peltier Receives Fulbright Award to Study Air Quality Data in UK

Richard Peltier
Richard Peltier

AMHERST, Mass. – Richard Peltier, associate professor of environmental health sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, is spending the academic year at the University of York, England, under a Fulbright Award to investigate how to better visualize and analyze air quality data for the citizen scientist and to improve the small sensor approaches his lab has been working on.

Peltier is trained as an atmospheric chemist with specific interest in human exposure to air pollution, especially particulate matter. He focuses his research on the developing world, where air pollution far exceeds the standards for air quality set in the U.S.

“Air pollution kills somewhere between 6-7 million people per year across the planet,” Peltier says. “This is a profound public health hazard.”

Through funding by the Worldwide Universities Network, he launched the “Air Sensors Everywhere” project in an attempt to create a clear path for do-it-yourself, low-cost air quality measurements, with a specific focus on the low-resource, high pollution areas of the world.

“As a Fulbright Scholar, I hope to build stronger international research connections for UMass Amherst and the School of Public Health and Health Sciences,” says Peltier. “I hope to expand important research capacity in order to solve bigger global public health problems.”

His UMass Amherst lab applies advanced aerosol characterization methods toward understanding the mechanistic effects of pollutants on human health. The work is accomplished through a combination of novel designs and applications of instrumentation, controlled laboratory generation of aerosol, and field work throughout North America. His research is funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Environmental Protection Agency and several foundations.

The U.S.-U.K. Fulbright Commission was founded by diplomatic treaty in 1948 to foster intercultural understanding between the United States and the United Kingdom through educational exchange. It is part of the scholarship program conceived by Sen. J. William Fulbright in the aftermath of World War II to promote leadership, learning and empathy among nations through educational exchange.

The Fulbright Commission selects scholars through a rigorous application and interview process, looking for academic excellence alongside a focused application, a range of extracurricular and community activities, demonstrated ambassadorial skills, a desire to further the Fulbright program and a plan to give back to the U.S. upon returning.

There have been more than 27,000 Fulbright exchanges between the U.S. and the U.K.