Previous Air Quality Scholarship Winners
Previous scholarship winners since 2004 are listed below. For information on the Robert Caton Scholarship, the David Bates Scholarship and the BC CLEAR Fund, see Air Quality Research Funding.
Devyani Singh is a Ph.D. candidate in the Faculty of Forestry at the University of British Columbia, co-supervised by Dr. Gary Bull and Dr. Hisham Zerriffi. She obtained an MBA (finance) from the University of Iowa, and a M.Sc. in Environmental Science from The Ohio State University. Devyani is part of a larger US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funded project on the "Experimental interventions to facilitate clean cookstove adoption, promote clean indoor air, and mitigate climate change". Almost 3 billion people globally depend on solid fuels as a source of meeting daily cooking requirements. This use of solid fuels has a huge impact on human health, air quality, environment, and society. The broad objectives of her project are linked to feasible improvements in dissemination of clean stoves and their impacts on health, environment, and climate. In particular, her research involves assessing the impacts of fuelwood extraction on forest sustainability and household emissions. After completion of her PhD in fall 2017, Devyani aspires to work in the science-policy interface on solutions benefitting environment and society.
Erin Evoy is a first year graduate student in the Department of Chemistry at the University of British Columbia, supervised by Dr. Allan Bertram. She completed her B. Sc. (Hons) in Chemistry at Western University in 2015. Erin is part of the NSERC Collaborative Research and Training Experience – Atmospheric Aerosol Program (CREATE-AAP), which brings together research groups from a number of faculties across UBC campus whose work focuses on atmospheric aerosols and their effect on climate, human health, and air quality. Erin’s work is focused on studying the atmospheric effects of aerosols, which are particles suspended in the atmosphere. Aerosol particles participate in atmospheric chemistry, reacting with organic molecules and gas phase oxidants, however the reaction rates may be dependent on the viscosity of the aerosol, which may potentially range from the viscosity of water to greater than that of tar pitch. Viscosity can also affect the rate and mechanism of aerosol particle growth, as well as the long-range transport of pollutants. Techniques developed in the Bertram group allow for viscosity measurements of very small sample volumes, such as those produced in environmental simulation chambers. These measurements will be used to improve climate models and lead to the more accurate predictions of the effects of aerosols in the atmosphere.
Ben Weinstein is a second-year MSc student in the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of British Columbia, supervised by Douw Steyn and Peter Jackson. Ben obtained his BSc. in atmospheric sciences from UBC in 2003 and shortly thereafter moved to Smithers to work for the B.C. Ministry of Environment as an air quality meteorologist. In September 2013 Ben began a two-year educational leave to pursue a graduate degree. Ben is a trainee in the NSERC Collaborative Research and Training Experience - Atmospheric Aerosol Program (CREATE-AAP), an interdisciplinary program that focuses on atmospheric aerosols and their effects on air quality, human health and climate. For his research Ben is exploring: a) whether the use of photochemical air pollution models are appropriate for constrained coastal valleys in northern latitudes, and b) the quantity of secondary air pollutant concentrations that may result from the construction of large industrial facilities in the Terrace-Kitimat valley. He is addressing these questions through the use of the Comprehensive Air Quality Model with Extensions (CAMx), an Eulerian photochemical dispersion model capable of predicting concentrations of secondary pollutants such as ground level ozone and secondary PM.
Ramin Dastanpour is a second year PhD student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of British Columbia (UBC). He obtained his MSc and BSc degrees at Isfahan University of Technology where he worked on Monte Carlo modeling of aerosol deposition in human lung’s five lobes to predict regional and total deposition of different particle sizes in human respiratory system. Presently, he is involved in the NSERC Collaborative Research and Training Experience Atmospheric Aerosol Program (CREATE-AAP) at UBC. His current research focuses on the development of advanced soot emission measuring and monitoring techniques based on accurate morphology of soot particles obtained from high resolution transmission electron microscope. This research will also provide insight into the formation of soot particles in different combustion environments.
Rachel Cliff is a first year MSc student in the Occupational and Environmental Hygiene program at the University of British Columbia. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Guelph, in Biomedical Toxicology. Presently, she is involved in the Collaborative Research and Training Experience Atmospheric Aerosol Program (CREATE-AAP), an interdisciplinary training program at UBC which focuses on atmospheric aerosols and their effect on climate, air quality and health. Rachel’s research will focus on understanding the effects of exposure to air pollution on learning and cognition. She hopes that her work will highlight the importance of minimizing ambient air pollution to help guide and motivate policy makers. In her spare time Rachel competes as a track and field athlete over long distance running events.
Ther Aung is a Bridge fellow and first year PhD student at the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia (UBC). She has a MHS in Occupational and Environmental Hygiene from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Her research interests are developing exposure assessment methods to inform health risk assessments, and translating evidence into policy. She is currently involved in a collaborative, multi-disciplinary study in rural India, which will form the basis of her dissertation work, to evaluate emissions and community exposure to air pollutants, including black carbon, from biomass cook stoves, and impact on cardiovascular health, climate and livelihoods.
Perry Hystad is a PhD candidate in the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia. He is supported by a UBC Bridge scholarship, a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research senior graduate trainee award, and a Canadian Institute of Health Research Frederick Banting and Best research scholarship. His dissertation focuses on air pollution and lung cancer risk in Canada, with an emphasis on social-environment interactions. His other research activities broadly cover spatial epidemiology and place and health. He is also a researcher with CAREX Canada, a national occupational and environmental carcinogen exposure surveillance initiative, and is developing GIS and Population Health and Spatial Epidemiology courses for Population Data BC.
Kharah Ross is the 2009 winner of the Robert Caton Scholarship. Kharah is in her first year of the MA/PhD Health Psychology program at the University of British Columbia. She will be investigating a unique area of research: the link between air pollution and day-to-day function. This will involve investigating the relationship between how chronic air pollution exposure could affect current mood (specifically depression) and thus everyday quality of life.
This research is part of Kharah's overall goal to better understand how our environment and lifestyle choices influence mental and biological health, and how people can be motivated to adopt healthier lifestyle practices that simultaneously reduce pollution and improve health.
Luisa Giles is the 2008 winner of the Robert Caton Scholarship. Luisa is a PhD candidate in the School of Human Kinetics at the University of British Columbia. Luisa is working with faculty in Human Kinetics, the School of Environmental Health and the Faculty of Medicine at UBC to gain a better understanding of the interaction between air pollution and exercise. This research will provide the basis for policies and information to help urban exercisers reduce their health risk due to air pollution.
Lief Pagalan is a first-year MSc student in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University, co-supervised by Dr. Meghan Winters and Dr. Bruce Lanphear, and a research trainee at the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility. He completed his BSc with a double major in Geography, and Interactive Arts and Technology at SFU in 2016. His research is an epidemiological and spatial analysis of air pollutants as prenatal modifiable risk factors for developing autism spectrum disorder, based on a 2004–14 population-based, retrospective cohort of all births in Metro Vancouver. Lief is developing and evaluating spatiotemporal estimates of PM2.5, NO, and NO2 for all of Metro Vancouver from 2003–2014 at a 6-digit postal code level and monthly resolution, building on land use regression models developed by Dr. Michael Brauer, Dr. Sarah Henderson, and Dr. Hind Sbihi. These spatiotemporal estimates of air pollutants will be used to calculate exposure estimates for the study cohort, and to subsequently test the associations between prenatal exposure to air pollutants with developing autism. If air pollutants are risk factors for developing autism, this study can provide new evidence for prevention strategies to improve air quality and reduce the adverse effects of air pollution on human health. It will also provide a rich spatiotemporal dataset of air pollution in Metro Vancouver for environmental health researchers.
Jiayun Angela Yao is a second-year PhD student in the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia (UBC), supervised by Drs. Sarah Henderson and Michael Brauer. She completed her undergraduate education in environmental science in China, and obtained her master’s degree from the Occupational and Environmental Health program at UBC. She has conducted research on the public health effects of exposure to forest fire smoke since then, as an environmental health scientist at the BC Centre for Disease Control. In 2014, she returned to school and started her PhD training. Her PhD thesis will look at the very acute health effects of sub-daily exposure to forest fire smoke (e.g. exposure to high concentrations for only a few hours). This project will have three objectives: 1) to develop an empirical model that estimates hourly PM2.5 exposure during the forest fire season for the entire population of BC; 2) to assess the association between hourly exposure to PM2.5 from forest fires and risk of respiratory and cardiovascular events attended by ambulance services; and 3) to provide evidence-based recommendations to improve the practice of issuing air quality advisories during forest fire smoke events. The work will generate new and necessary evidence on health impacts from sub-daily exposure to forest fire smoke, and it will inform changes in our current public health practices to mitigate the adverse impacts.
Sarah Koch is a fourth-year PhD student in the School of Kinesiology at the University of British Columbia (UBC). She completed her MSc in the Environmental Physiology Laboratory at UBC, investigating how inhaled β2-agonists (IBAs), a medication group commonly used in the treatment of asthma, affect cycling performance in athletes. Presently, Sarah is involved in a project that investigates how physical activity in air pollution and the use of asthma medication (IBAs) affect lung health in asthmatics. Physical activity leads to an increase in the volume of (polluted) air that we breathe. Additionally, the airways are widened due to the natural release of epinephrine, the fight-or-flight-hormone. Ultimately, physical activity in areas of increased air pollution could lead to a greater volume of pollutants being inhaled, and reaching parts of the lungs that they would not when at rest. This research will improve our understanding of the effects of inhaled β2-agonists in the treatment of respiratory symptoms due to air pollution exposure in asthmatics.
Annie Wang is a second year MSc student studying Occupational and Environmental Hygiene (in the School of Population and Public Health) at the University of British Columbia. She has a BSc in Biochemistry from the same university. Currently, she has a fellowship position at the interdisciplinary Collaborative Research and Training Experience-Atmospheric Aerosol Program (CREATE-AAP). Annie is interested in the potential uses of emerging wireless sensor technologies for monitoring intra-urban air pollution. This past summer, she volunteered on a mobile monitoring project aimed at characterizing spatial and temporal variability in particulate matter air pollution. She aspires to one day have a career devoted to ensuring the health and safety of her community.
Majid Kajbafzadeh is a second year MSc student in the School of Population and Public Health (Occupational and Environmental Hygiene theme) at the University of British Columbia. He has a B.Sc. in Health Sciences from Simon Fraser University where he also worked on dopamine signaling at the molecular level with implications in drug addiction, schizophrenia, and Parkinson’s disease. His current research focuses on evaluating the effects of low-level exposures to combustion-derived particulate matter (PM) air pollution (from traffic-related sources and residential wood combustion) and HEPA filtration on cardiovascular health outcomes. This research will provide a better understanding of the potential differences between these two predominant sources of PM with respect to their effects on cardiovascular health.
Jason Curran is currently a PhD student at the School of Population and Public Health, within UBC's Faculty of Medicine. His current research examines the effects of traffic pollution on learning and cognition. He holds a MPH from Simon Fraser University, as well as degrees in journalism and biological sciences. As well as being a former journalist, Jason worked in communications for the David Suzuki Foundation in Vancouver, and Capital Health in Edmonton.
Hind Sbihi is a second-year PhD student at the University of British Columbia in the School of Environmental Health where she is investigating air pollution exposure assessment methods for birth cohort studies of childhood asthma. She has an Industrial Engineering degree from Ecole Polytechnique Montreal and an MSc in Occupational and Environmental Hygiene from the University of British Columbia. Her research interests are related to methods to measure exposure for epidemiological studies of children’s health in order to advance our understanding of environmental contaminants source-health effects link. She is currently involved in the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal (CHILD) study, and is examining the contribution of traffic-related air pollution to indoor exposures.
Wenqi Gan is the 2008 winner of the David Bates Scholarship. Wenqi is a PhD candidate in the School of Environmental Health at the University of British Columbia. Wenqi is researching the relationship between ambient air pollution, traffic noise, and cardiovascular disease in British Columbia. One objective of this research is to provide evidence to support environmental policy making that takes into account multiple risks and vulnerable populations such as the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions.
Weiran Yuchi is in the first year of her MSc in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University, where she also earned her undergraduate degree. Weiran is working to develop a regression model to estimate residential indoor fine particulate matter (PM2.5) concentrations in the homes of pregnant women in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia as part of the UGAAR randomized trial of portable air filter use and fetal growth. Ulaanbaatar is one of the world’s most polluted cities due to heavy reliance on coal for home heating and electricity generation. In addition to providing estimates of exposure for epidemiologic analyses in UGAAR, Weiran’s work will also identify important sources of indoor exposure among this highly exposed population. In addition to pursuing her MSc, Weiran also works part-time at BC Centre for Disease Control, where she is involved in work investigating the relationships between different PM2.5 exposure models and respiratory health outcomes.
Marabeth Kramer is a second-year MSc student in the School of Population and Public Health (Occupational and Environmental Hygiene theme) at the University of British Columbia. Through support from a Collaborative Research and Training Experience-Atmospheric Aerosol Program (CREATE-AAP) fellowship, Marabeth is studying the effect of diesel exhaust and allergen exposure on inflammatory mediators called adipokines. These proteins, as their name would suggest, are released primarily from the adipose tissue, and are observed to be released in response to inhaled inflammatory stimuli in animal models. Through the measurement of these proteins in the context of a controlled human study, the mechanistic function of adipokines in inflammatory lung processes can be elucidated, and their role in the pathophysiology of pulmonary disease explored.
Prabjit Barn is a first year PhD student at the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University. Prabjit earned her MSc in Environmental and Occupational Health and BSc in Biology at the University of British Columbia. After graduating from her masters, she joined the BC Centre for Disease Control and the National Collaborating Center for Environmental Health, where she has spent the last five years working as an Environmental Health Scientist. Currently, Prabjit is working with a research team on the Ulaanbaatar Gestation and Air Pollution Research (UGAAR) Study, where she will be assessing the effectiveness of air filters in reducing risks of impaired fetal growth in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, one of the world’s most polluted cities. Recent epidemiologic evidence suggests that exposures during pregnancy, even at relatively low levels, may have adverse effects on fetal growth. If air filters are shown to be effective, this research will provide evidence of a causal role of air pollution on fetal growth and support the use of a relatively simple and inexpensive intervention to reduce an important air pollution-related health outcome.
Paul Wesley Cottle is a second year PhD student in the Atmospheric Sciences program at UBC. Paul has a MS in Electrical Engineering from Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University. Prior to joining the Atmospheric Sciences program, he spent 10 years working as an opto-mechanical engineer in the aerospace and medical imaging industries, designing lidar systems, satellite payloads, and laser-induced fluorescence (LIF) imagers, for which he received two patents. He has now turned his focus to the use of lidar for studying atmospheric phenomena. His particular research interests include monitoring aerosols from long-range transport, and the evolution of aerosol particle properties in the atmosphere. Paul’s favourite pastimes include rock climbing, skiing, backpacking and playing go.
Rebecca Abernethy is an MSc candidate in the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia. Her research is on the development of a land use regression model for ultrafine particles (UFP) in Vancouver, for use in epidemiologic studies to better understand health impacts of UFP exposure. Rebecca also works at synthesizing risk assessment data on priority carcinogens for CAREX Canada and compiling environmental impacts of lifestyle choices for a health management program with the Childhood Obesity Foundation of Canada. Rebecca enjoys volunteering and is an avid traveller, preferring to tour by bicycle, foot, ski or kayak.
Mandy M. Pui is an MSc candidate in the Experimental Medicine program at the University of British Columbia (UBC). She is interested in studying diesel exhaust-associated changes in innate immunity in human asthmatics at the Air Pollution Exposure Laboratory under the supervision of Dr. Christopher Carlsten. She hopes that her research findings will help better equip knowledge translation researchers and policymakers in developing remediation strategies to protect susceptible populations exposed to ambient air pollution. She is also involved in the Collaborative Research and Training Experience - Atmospheric Aerosol Program (CREATE-AAP) at UBC, where she will be trained in other disciplines related to air quality, as well as share her research findings and passion in experimental medicine. She is training for her first triathlon and loves to travel during her spare time.
Elaina MacIntyre is the 2008 winner of the BC CLEAR Fund award. Elaina is a PhD candidate in the School of Environmental Health at the University of British Columbia. She is examining the association between outdoor air pollution and middle ear infections during the first two years of life in British Columbia. Her area of study reflects her career goal: to develop and evaluate preventive measures aimed at improving children’s environmental health.
Luke Bornn is the 2008 runner-up winner of the BC CLEAR Fund Runner-Up Award. Luke is a PhD candidate in the Department of Statistics at the University of British Columbia. His research involves the development of statistical models to account for variability, in space and time, of environmental and health data as it applies to air quality monitoring, environmental and occupational health, and the understanding of effects of environmental interventions on public health.
Brian Gouge, the 2007 winner, is a PhD candidate in the Resource Management and Environmental Studies Program at the University of British Columbia. Brian is working with a research team, partnered with the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority, on the environmental and human health impacts associated with public transportation.
2007 Runners Up
Due to the large number of highly qualified applicants, the Ministry of Environment contributed extra scholarship funds of $1000 each to the following individuals:
- Glenys Webster is a PhD candidate in the University of British Columbia School of Environmental Health and the UBC Bridge program. Glenys created and directs the UBC Chemicals, Health and Pregnancy Study, researching the effects of certain chemicals on pregnant women.
- Gail Millar is an MSc student in the Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences Program at the University of Northern British Columbia. Gail is researching the spatial variability of wood smoke within five communities in northwestern B.C. - part of a larger study examining woodsmoke health impacts.
- Francis Ries is a PhD candidate in the University of British Columbia Resource Management and Environmental Studies Program and the UBC Bridge Program. Francis is researching the link between fossil-fuel-powered transit vehicles’ emissions and public health in the B.C. Lower Mainland.
Conor Reynolds is a PhD student in the Resource Management and Environmental Studies program at the University of British Columbia. He received his Master's in Mechanical Engineering at UBC, for experimental work on clean-engine technology and alternative fuels. He is doing policy and technology research — investigating strategies to reduce transportation emissions.
Alison Luke is an outstanding student with a demonstrated commitment to the environment and, through her law studies, an interest in approaching environmental issues from the policy perspective.
Eric Mazzi worked with Bob Caton on some projects in 1997-98. His PhD thesis is entitled Indoor and Outdoor Air Quality: A More Representative Analysis of Climate Policy.