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Health Effects Institute grants award to James Schauer

James Jay Schauer

James Jay Schauer (large image)

Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering James Schauer spends much of his time studying little particles in the air. Now his research has been recognized in a big way.

Schauer has been named Walter A. Rosenblith Young Investigator of the Year by the Health Effects Institute (HEI). The award, the only one of its kind awarded annually by HEI, provides up to $75,000 to continue Schauer's research on air quality.

The Boston-based HEI is a non-profit organization funded jointly by government and industry sources to research and evaluate the affects of air pollution.

Schauer is also affiliated with the university's Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, as well as the Environmental Chemistry and Technology Program, and serves as director of air quality for the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene. His research has focused on atmospheric chemistry and emissions characterization. He is currently characterizing emissions and human exposure to metals emitted from motor vehicles.

"I've been trying to understand the impact of human exposure to these particles," he said. "The bottom line for us as a society is that we need to have a very clear and vivid understanding of what the sources are and how those affect human health."

Under an HEI-sponsored research program, Schauer plans to develop methods for analyzing the chemical composition of particulate matter collected by low-volume, personal samplers. The focus of the research will be to quantify certain organic compounds, measure trace metals, and identify metal oxidation states.

Eventually, Schauer said aim of the research is to provide better information to governmental agencies, such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as well as citizens, about air quality and efforts to combat air pollution.

"We're trying to provide the tools for people to make better decisions," he said.