Department Notes Archive – 2015

Department Notes – 2015

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Dr. Russ Hauser became Acting Chair, and then Chair, of the Department of Environmental Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health on September 1, 2016. Dr. Douglas Dockery was the Chair from 2005 – 2016.

Notes – 12/23/2015

Now that finals have been taken and people head toward their well-deserved break, I want to acknowledge a few important recent accomplishments and noteworthy events from members of our department.

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), with the support of two grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, has announced that it is forming an initiative called the Planetary Health Alliance.  Its purpose is to support scientists investigating the effects of the changing environment and health, to explore what can be done about it.  Congratulations to Sam Myers, who was named Director of the Project, and Chris Golden, who will serve as the Associate Director.  Our Department and the Harvard University Center for the Environment (HUCE) will participate jointly in the Planetary Health Alliance.  An article about it can be found in the Harvard Gazette here.

Congratulations to Jaime Hart (first author) and Francine Laden for their article that appeared in the Journal of the American Heart Association Report that suggests that air pollution is a cause of increased cardiovascular risks in women, and that women with type 2 diabetes are particularly susceptible. The school ran about the article here.

On a more local level, student Erica Walker’s research on noise levels around Boston and their effects on people was featured in articles on the HSPH website here and in the Dorchester Reporter article here.

Finally, CHGE’s own Jack Spengler and Ari Bernstein participated in a Forum that discussed Climate Change: Health and Disease Threats. It’s well worth watching; you can find it here.

Congratulations to Mihye Lee, former doctoral student and now post-doc in the EER program, on the birth of her son on December 14, 2015.

Speaking of birthdays, Mel First would have been 101 today (December 23rd).  For those of you who did not have the good fortune to know Mel, he was Professor of Industrial Hygiene for as long as most of us remember.  He came to the School as a Research Fellow in 1947 and joined the faculty in 1963.  He was a beloved and respected teacher for most of the senior faculty. He was also a bit of a curmudgeon, and probably the most feared examiner of our doctoral students. He was working almost to the day he died at age 96 in 2011. Join me in remembering and celebrating the contributions of our colleague Mel.

I wish us all a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a very Happy New Year.  Don’t forget to save January 25 for our EH Holiday Party.  Enjoy your break and we’ll see you in January!


Notes – 11/29/2015

As we enjoy our Thanksgiving holiday, I want to share several pieces of recent news in our department.

Samuel Myers received the Prince Albert II de Monaco – Institut Pasteur Award from Prince Albert II at the Monaco Yacht Club on November 23rd. The award recognizes Myers’ research on the impact of environmental and climatic changes on nutrient levels in crops and on pollinator populations, and the potential effects of these changes on human nutrition and health. Watch a video from the Monaco Channel (in French) about Myers’ award.

Tamarra James-Todd received word that her R01 application entitled “Phthalates, Gestational Diabetes, and Markers of Future Type 2 Diabetes Risk in Women” has been funded.  Tamarra also was selected to be on the EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board for the Chemical Assessment Advisory Committee.  Congratulations on both of these achievements, Tamarra!

Joel Schwartz is co-PI with GHP’s Richard Cash on a new U2R training grant entitled “Air Pollution and Health GeoHealth Hub Research Capacity Building-US.” This grant creates a partnership with the Public Health Foundation of India that will help accelerate scientific infrastructure development, enhance research training, and support research needed to fully characterize the relationship between air pollution and cardio-metabolic risk factors and diseases in India. It presents an exciting opportunity for us to spread our expertise in research and instruction, and to help India develop its public health capabilities. Congratulations Joel and fellow faculty involved with this project!

Jeff Fredberg received a new U01 grant entitled “Epithelial Layer Jamming in Breast Cancer Cell Migration.”  Congratulations Jeff!

Phil Demokritou was awarded a new contract from NIOSH and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) entitled Environmental Health and Safety Implications from engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) released from nano-enabled products (NEPs) during consumer use: Case study  of printer emitted engineered nanoparticles (PEPs).” Well done Phil!

Meanwhile, Andrea Baccarelli received an S10 equipment grant to purchase a nanosight system for particle tracking analysis in biological fluids. This equipment has applications across different fields, including analysis of extracellular vesicles (Andrea’s major interest), but also nanoparticles/nanomaterials, viruses in vaccine development, liposomes in drug development, and protein aggregates.  This equipment can therefore potentially benefit many researchers as it opens up whole new possibilities for research.  It will be available through the NIEHS Center Integrative Health Sciences Facility Core.

Joe Allen also received School resources from the Taplin Equipment fund to purchase various pieces of equipment that are intended to enhance the school’s capabilities in health and building assessments. The $50k is going towards a variety of field equipment that can be used by students and faculty in pilot projects such as a portable XRF for elemental analysis of materials; DRX for simultaneously measuring multiple PM size fractions; sensor watches for tracking skin temperature, physical activity and sleep; light and noise sensors for sleep and IEQ studies; infrared camera and air flow meter for building assessments in microbiome studies; and wearable TVOC sensors. Contact Joe if you are interested in finding out more about this equipment and how it can be used.

By the way, Joe Allen also gave the keynote speech for the Distinguished Sustainability Lecturer Series in Abu Dhabi, and his team (including Jack Spengler, Piers MacNaughton, and Erika Eitland) gave presentations about indoor air quality and health at Greenbuild in Washington D.C.  His publication has received a lot of popular press coverage. For example, Joe Allen is one of several researchers from our Department who was featured on recent segments of the PRI radio program “Living on Earth” hosted by good friend of the Department Steve CurwoodLiving on Earth is devoted to a wide range of environmental issues and can be heard at 7:00 a.m. on Sundays on WBUR.  Joe Allen’s feature on indoor air quality and cognition can be found here; Alex Lu had a feature about his work on indoor pesticide and its link to childhood health issues here; and Sam Myers had a feature about his work on the decline of pollinators and its effect on health here.

I hope you all enjoy your time off over the Thanksgiving break, and take time to reflect on the many blessings we all have in our lives. We are most thankful to all of you, who make our department such a vital and vibrant community.


Notes – 10/30/2015

There’s so much news to share about our department on this Halloween, it’s almost scary! Read on if you dare and find out how our department continues to evolve.

As many of you know, Les Kobzik has been the Program Director in MIPS for nine years.  Recently he has begun spending an increasing amount of his time out of town, and we both feel that in fairness to the MIPS Program, now is an appropriate time to appoint a new MIPS Program Director.  I can only express my gratitude to Les for sharing his wisdom, leadership skills, and wit to the benefit of both the MIPS program and the EH Department as a whole.  He has helped me come up with creative solutions and suggestions more times than I can count, and he has always been reasonable, logical, and generous.  For all of his contributions, I am truly grateful.

I can think of no better person to take on the responsibilities of Program Director than Stephanie Shore. Stephanie needs no introduction to members of the MIPS community; she has been an integral member of it and the department for over 30 years.  Those that know her know that in addition to her research skills, she is creative, logical, and fair-minded. I look forward to working with Stephanie as the MIPS program continues to change and grow with new and exciting initiatives.  By the way, Stephanie also received a new NIEHS R01 entitled “Impact of Obesity on Airway Responses to Air Pollution.” Congratulations on this grant and thank you, Stephanie, for taking on this new leadership role as Molecular and Integrative Physiological Sciences Program Director!

I want to thank everyone who attended our Harvard NIEHS Center for Environmental Health retreat last week. Once again, attendees demonstrated the extraordinary breadth of the Center through various presentations and activities. In all, 35 people presented and everyone that was present at the end got to participate in the “So you think you’re smarter than a grad student” game show. Congratulations to Helen Cho for winning the $10,000 flash funding pilot award for her proposal entitled “Gender-related differences in microbiota contribute to obese asthma.” And a huge thank you goes out to Julie Goodman, who once again combined her creativity and organizational skills to create a fun, informative, and highly successful retreat.

Congratulations to Phil Demokritou, who was awarded an honorary Professorship at Shanghai University, China. Professor Wu, Vice President of Shanghai University, remarked on Dr. Demokritou’s contributions as a researcher, teacher and inventor in the fields of Environmental Health, Nanosafety and Nano-biology. Phil delivered a keynote address to the faculty and students of the University of Shanghai entitled “Tales from the Nano-scale: Nano-safety meets Sustainable Nanotechnology.”

Congratulations to Jeff Fredberg for getting a subcontract from Northwestern University on an NIH grant entitled “The Mechanical Basis of Primary Open Angle Glaucoma.”

Likewise, kudos to Andrea Baccarelli for receiving a subcontract from USC for a grant entitled “Mitochondrial epigenetics, traffic-related pollution and neonatal health.”

Joe Allen was first author on an Environmental Health Perspectives paper that linked green buildings with higher cognitive function. It was featured on the School’s website and in the Harvard GazetteJack Spengler was the last author, and EH co-authors included Piers MacNaughton and Jose Vallarino.  This project was done jointly with researchers at Syracuse University.

Similarly but separately, Meryl Colton (first author) and Gary Adamkiewicz (last author) published a paper in the American Journal of Public Health entitled “Health Benefits of Green Public Housing: Associations With Asthma Morbidity and Building-Related Symptoms” that was also featured on the School’s website. Other EH co-authors included Jose Guillermo Cedeno Laurent, Piers MacNaughton, and Jack Spengler.

The School put out a YouTube video featuring Donna Spiegelman from the departments of Epidemiology, Biostats and Nutrition. She discusses research done with Marianthe-Anna Kioumourtzoglou. Together with others they developed a methodology to get better estimates of the effects of air pollution on health. This is one of many examples of how our department works closely with other departments to achieve important findings.

Please visit the photographic exhibit on the 14th floor of Building I titled: BADGES: A Memorial Tribute to Asbestos Workers. This exhibit chronicles asbestos exposures from mining and manufacturing in the 20th century and what is termed the “third wave” of exposures current now as buildings with asbestos are being demolished or refurbished, thereby creating an environmental asbestos exposure that affects the general public as well as the workers.  This exhibit is sponsored by the Harvard Education and Research Center and the Harvard-NIEHS Center for Environmental Health through their respective outreach programs, headed by Ann Backus.

There was a nice write-up on Stephen Loring, who was an Associate Professor in MIPS, in the ATS News here.

I would like to put in a personal plug for our staff members to take the five or so minutes it takes to fill out the University’s engagement survey that they received by email. It is anonymous and will be helpful for our Department, School and University to know how staff feels.

Lastly, congratulations to administrators Jon Lavigne and Anny Maza for graduating from the School’s Boot Camp program.

I hope everyone enjoys their Halloween and gets more treats than tricks.


Notes – 10/4/2015

As we complete the first month of our new academic year, we have several wonderful newsworthy items to share.

First, Trina von Stackelberg received one of six EPA research grants targeted at studying the ecological impacts of manufactured chemicals. Trina’s grant, entitled “Integrated Modeling Approaches to Support Systems-Based Ecological Risk Assessment,” is being done in partnership with Washington State University and Western Washington University. A press release about it can be found here. Congratulations Trina!

Jeff Drazen just received the 2015 Presidential Award from the ERS International Congress. You can read about his tremendous honor here. Congratulations Jeff!

Lead author Amina Schartup, last author Elsie Sunderland, and co-authors Anne Soerensen and Ryan Caldor among others published a PNAS article entitled “Freshwater discharges drive high levels of methylmercury in Arctic marine biota.” The article was featured on the school’s website here and in a Harvard Gazette article here.  Well done team for this important finding.

Joel Schwartz and Antonella Zanobetti were included on Thomson Reuter’s 2015 list of the most highly cited researchers in science and social sciences.The school website article lists 22 Harvard Chan faculty members who made this prestigious list. Congratulations Joel and Antonella!

Joe Allen was the driving force behind a supplemental Harvard-NIEHS Center grant that we received to do e-cigarette research. In addition, he received substantial gifts from United Technologies to study Green Buildings and Cognitive Function, and from Perkin Elmer for High Spatial Resolution Community Monitoring. Well done, Joe!

Quan Lu received word that he will receive two subcontracts from BWH (Kelan Tantisira is the PI of two recently funded R01s) to study the role of circulating microRNAs in the airway. That’s great news, Quan. But maybe not as great as the news that your daughter, Lucy (15), played a piece of Chopin at Carnegie Hall last Saturday. She was selected as a regional winner as part of the American Fine Arts Festival. Congratulations to Quan and to daughter Lucy!

John Evans co-authored an article in Nature entitled “The contribution of outdoor air pollution sources to premature mortality on a global scale” received widespread coverage. The school featured it on its website and the Associated Press/Huffington Post featured it here. Well done, John!

In the upcoming October issue of Nature Materials, there is an article called “Cell Jam” that discusses the research of Jin-Ah Park. Specifically, it talks about how collective cell migration and jamming in the bronchial epithelium helps to understand the pathophysiology underlying asthma.  It’s nice to see that Jin-Ah and her lab’s work is being recognized.

We have a lot of people in the department to congratulate on having achieved major milestones:
Ramon Molina has been promoted to senior research scientist in MIPS.
Christopher Golden has been promoted to research scientist in EER.
Kelsey Gleason successfully passed her oral examination.
Xindi Hu successfully passed her oral examination.
Pi-I (Debby) Lin successfully passed her oral examination.
Wan-Chen Lee successfully defended her dissertation “From the Inside Out — Application of the Mass Balance Model for PM Exposure Assessment in Residential Settings Under the Influences of Indoor and Outdoor Factors.”
Eun Joo Park successfully defended her dissertation “Metal Speciation, Mixtures, and Environmental Health Impacts.”

Please join me on congratulating each one of them for these major steps forward!

Ari Bernstein was interviewed on the school website’s the Big 3 feature. Ari of course is a member of the Center for Health and the Global Environment, which had a very successful annual retreat in September. CHGE always seems to have a lot going on. I encourage you to check out its website to see its presence in the news and to sign up to receive its newsletter.

It was great to see everyone at the EH department’s Welcome Back party. Already our department has hosted a slew of very interesting seminars, with more to come. Keep your eyes open for email announcements about them and look for flyers publicizing them.

Enjoy the nice fall weather!



Notes – 9/1/2015

Welcome back to all of our new and returning students, faculty and staff! It’s wonderful to feel the excitement as the school gears up for another academic year. For those of you who are new to the department, I write these notes every few weeks to catch us all up on news coming out of the department. As you will see from the notes below, our department has not slowed down a bit during the summer. We have lots of news to report!

First, I informed the department faculty that I have accepted Dean Hunter’s invitation to stay on as Department Chair for two more years as the School makes the transition of selecting a new Dean. It has been an honor and a privilege to Chair such an outstanding department, and I look forward to two more years of serving in that role. I am most grateful that Professor Francine Laden has agreed to serve as Associate Chair. Francine will be concentrating on heading up the academic issues that are particularly relevant as the School and department begins our revamped MPH and PhD degree programs. Francine will also be the new Director of the EER program. I am looking forward to working with her as she oversees many of the changes that our department will be making as it the School as a whole transforms itself.

I want to thank Jim Shine for his leadership of the EER program over the past three years. Jim generously has given his time and energy in service to the EER program and the Department.  During these major transitions in our training programs, Jim has guided our largest degree programs and insured that we remain arguably the premiere environmental health training program in world.

Speaking of Francine Laden, congratulations for receiving a P50 entitled “Disparities in Exposure and Health Effects of Multiple Environmental Stressors Across the Life Course” from the National Institute of Health and Minority Disparities and the NIEHS. Well done!

Welcome to our the newest member of our faculty, Tamarra James-Todd, who officially started in EOME on July 1. Tamarra is the Mark and Catherine Winkler Assistant Professor of Environmental Reproductive and Perinatal Epidemiology.

Special congratulations to John Godleski for his promotion to Professor. His new title is certainly well deserved. Congratulations Professor! Please join us for his promotion celebration on September 8th (3:30pm, 1302, RSVP here).

Sam Myers has had a flurry of activity lately. The Rockefeller Foundation-Lancet Commission on Planetary Health came out with a report, “Safeguarding Human Health in the Anthropocene Epoch,” which broadly assessed the scale of the threats to health, development, and civilization posed by the multiplicity of environmental changes brought on by human activity. Sam is a Commissioner and co-author of the report. Sam simultaneously had two articles published, one in the Lancet entitled “Effects of decreases of animal pollinators on human nutrition and global health: a modelling analysis” (Matthew Smith is first author) and the other in the Lancet Global Health journal entitled “Effect of increased concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide on the global threat of zinc deficiency: a modelling study.”  Joel Schwartz, Itai Kloog and Antonella Zanobetti are co-authors on the zinc article. Sam’s activities are featured on the School website here, on our own departmental page and in the Harvard Gazette here. Sam also just learned that he will be honored with the Prince Albert II of Monaco—Institut Pasteur 2015 Award in November. It is an extremely prestigious international prize awarded for research in the human health impacts of climate change and other types of environmental change. Congratulations Sam for all of your recent accomplishments!

Congratulations to Phil Demokritou for his new R21 entitled “Inactivation of ambient virues using Engineered Water Nanostructures.”  Phil was also named Co-Editor-in-Chief of a new Elsevier Journal entitled “NanoImpact.”  This new international journal will concentrate on issues related to nanosafety. It is scheduled to have its inaugural issue in January 2016. Phil’s lab also published a series of articles that was featured on the school website here. Congratulations to lead author Sandra Pirela, and to Xiaoyan Lu, Dhimiter Bello, and Les Kobzik.

Congratulations also to Dilpreet Singh of the Demokritou lab, who won the New Investigator Award at the National Nanotechnology Initiative International QEEN Conference. Dilpreet’s poster was entitled “Nano-waste: Environmental health and safety (EHS) implications during thermal degradation/incineration of nano-enabled products at their end-of-life.”

Alex Lu published an article in the Journal of Environmental Chemistry entitled “Distributions of neonicotinoid insecticides in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: a temporal and spatial variation analysis for pollen and honey samples.” Doctoral student Chi-Hsuan Chang, research fellow Lin Tao, and research associate Mei Chen are co-authors. The article reports that more than 70% of pollen and honey samples collected from foraging bees in Massachusetts contain at least one neonicotinoid, a class of pesticide that has been implicated in Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) in which adult bees abandon their hives during winter. It received a great deal of publicity in the popular press, and is featured on the school website here. Well done, Alex and team!

Philippe Grandjean had an article published in Environmental Science and Technology entitled “Breastfeeding as an Exposure Pathway for Perfluorinated Alkylates”.  The study proved that PFAS’s, a widely used class of industrial chemicals, are transferred to infants via breast milk.  The school featured the story here, and the study can be found here.

Jeff Fredberg and Jeff Drazen were last authors on an article that appeared in Nature Materials entitled “Unjamming and Cell Shape in the Asthmatic Airway Epithelium.” The Harvard Gazette featured it here and the study itself can be found here. Congratulations to all of the authors, including lead authors Jin-Ah Park and Jae Hun Kim, and the many MIPS co-authors that participated.

Joe Allen and Jack Spengler were awarded an Inaugural Curriculum Innovation Grant to develop courses on sustainable and high-performing buildings. Congratulations Joe and Jack!

Congratulations to post-doc Alex Carll, who received Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Spring Post-doc Travel Award as well as an American Thoracic Society Environmental and Occupational Health Assembly Abstract Award. Alex will be joining the University of Louisville as Assistant Professor of Physiology next month.  Congratulations and good luck.

Michael Yi Chao Lin successfully defended his dissertation entitled “Moving Away from the Traditional Desktop Computer Workstations: Identifying Opportunities to Improve Upper Extremity Biomechanics.” Well done Michael!

Rose Filoramo was featured with Les Kobzik in an article about her work on sepsis in the spring edition of the Harvard Public Health magazine. You can read the story here.

By the way, you may have seen me on the school’s website in a Take 2 segment entitled “How Does Air Pollution Affect Health?”

Finally, I would am sorry to report that our department’s Associate Director of Finance, Chris Kelly, will be leaving the school to pursue other career opportunities. Chris has done a tremendous job for our department and for the school over the past 3 plus years. Please join me in thanking him for his efforts and wishing him the best of luck in his bright future! I also want to welcome Jonathan Lavigne, who has joined us as the new department ADF. We look forward to working with you, Jon!

I hope you all are enjoying these precious last days of summer. Welcome back all to what I am sure will be another great academic year in the department!

Take care,

Notes – 6/30/2015

You would think that after graduation things might slow down a little bit, but not in this department! Once again, I have much news to report.

It has been a big month for Quan Lu and his lab.  First, he received word from the American Asthma Foundation that he will receive a three year award for his proposal entitled “Cholecystokinin (CCK) and Its Receptor CCKAR as Novel Therapeutic Targets for Asthma.” In addition, Quan also received funding from the Blavatnik Accelerator funding for his proposal entitled “Delivery of Biological Therapeutics via ARMMs.” Lastly, Quan’s recent graduate Peter Wagner was featured on the school website here.  Well done Quan and Peter!

It has also been a big month for Chris Golden. He and co-applicant Sam Myers received a prestigious two year Wellcome Trust Foundation award for their grant proposal entitled “Quantifying the Human Nutritional Value of Global Fisheries and the Risk to Human Health of Fisheries Decline.” Sam Myers also has a subcontract on different two year Wellcome Trust Foundation grant entitled “Future diets and health: How will environmental changes affect food availability, food consumption and health?” Lastly, Chris Golden will serve as mentor to new incoming fellow Cortni Borgerson on a new NSF Fellowship for their grant application entitled “Endangered species as food; interdisciplinary approaches to stemming biodiversity loss and food insecurity.” Terrific job, Chris and Sam, and welcome Cortni!

Over in the Baccarelli lab, Diddier Prada received a 2015 Enrichment Award from the Health Disparities Research Program by the Harvard Catalyst for his project entitled “Evaluating subtelomeric methylation using ready-to-use 450K methylation data to identify individuals who will experience accelerated cognitive decline due to environmental exposures.” Nice going Diddier!

Chrisy Chantarasopak enjoyed amazing success at the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) conference recently. She was awarded best student poster by two of the technical committees (Indoor Environments and Exposure Assessment), and second place for best poster in the student session. To top it off, she received a second place award for best conference poster overall. (It is extraordinarily rare for a student to receive this type of award for the entire conference.) Her poster was entitled “Exposure Assessment of 3D Printer Emissions.” Congratulations Chrissy and to her mentor, Bob Herrick.

Congratulations also to Rose Goldman, who was invited by the China Medical Board to their conference for young investigators and junior faculty involved in health care systems and policy (“Westlake Youth Forum”).  She gave a plenary session entitled: “Environmental Health: an Introduction to Methodology, Research and Policy” as well as a pre-conference workshop entitled “Key Strategies and Techniques for Effective Teaching.”

A big thank you to Marshall Katler for organizing the MIPS food fest once again this year. This year’s winners were:
Main Dish:
1st – Rosalinda Sepulveda (and Grand Prize),   2nd – Rose Filoramo,  3rd – Kelsey O’Brien

1st – Abby Jensen, 2nd Elisa Ghelfi, 3rd – Jiangyi Wu

1st – Sally Bedugnis, 2nd – Magda Bortoni-Rodrigues, 3rd – Glen Deloid

mips 2015

Congratulations to all of the winners and participants! By the way, congratulations also to Marshall for his daughter Rachel’s wedding in New Hampshire. Seems like he has been involved in a lot of party planning lately!

Congratulations also to Jia Zhong on the birth of her daughter Erin! Her Chinese name is Zhiyi (之易). She was born on June 19, just in time for father’s day and her big brother Ryan’s birthday. Everyone is reportedly doing well.

Finally, I am pleased to note that Jeanne and I have our first grandson, Otis Palmer, born last night at the BI. Otis, his parents Jason and Anna, and his grandparents are coping well with this life-changing event.

Wishing you all a very happy July 4th holiday weekend,


Notes – 5/27/2015

We have arrived at the end of the Academic Year.  Congratulations to all our graduates!

Doctor of Science 

Raphael Arku
Jose Cedeno Laurent
Nancy Diao
Iny Jhun
Don Kriens
Mihye Lee
Sandra Pirela
Emily Sparer
Kathryn Taylor
Peter Umukoro
Muzo Wu
Christopher Zevitas


Doctor of Philosophy

Peter Wagner


Master of Science
Calvin Bannister
Chi-Hsuan Chang
Chrisy Chantarasopak
Justine Dupal
Emily Eshleman
Rui Hu
Jina Kim
Hannah Laue
Mallory Leblanc
Lisa Rokoff
Amelia Valberg
Yan Wang
Yinyin Xu
Yi  Zhang

Master of Public Health

Morteza Asgarzadeh
William Shane Journeay
Kevin Loh
Bryant Martin
Ana Sandoval
Samuel Turner


Medical Residents

Laurent Benedetti
Mason Harrell
Soni Matthew

Also congratulations to Jack Dennerlein who is receiving the “Excellence in Teaching Award for Executive and Continuing Professional Education.” Jack is the first EH faculty member to receive this prestigious award.

Look forward to seeing many of you at Commencement tomorrow.



Notes – 5/17/2015

We have LOTS of news to share with the department! Marc Weisskopf was senior author on a paper published in BMJ entitled “The relation between past exposure to fine particulate air pollution and prevalent anxiety: observational cohort study.” This was a nice collaboration between the EER and EOME programs in our department as well as the Department of Epidemiology and the Channing. Other EH authors that contributed include Marianthi Kioumourtzoglou, Jamie Hart, and Francine Laden. Well done all!

The United Nations Environment Programme puts out a magazine every two months called Our Planet. This month the issue is dedicated to links between health and global environment in anticipation of the World Health Assembly. Sam Myers has an essay featured in it here.

Elsewhere, Morteza Asgarzadeh was co-author of a study featured in the journal Injury Prevention on bicycle safety. It is featured on the school website here.

David Christiani gave the 2015 Anne Baetjer Lecture at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health with a presentation entitled “The Shanghai Textile Worker Lung Disease Cohort: Just When You Thought the Workplace Was Safe.”

Clifton Dassuncao will be starting his EPA fellowship entitled “Immunotoxicity Risks Associated with Exposures to Perflourinated Compounds (PFCs).” Congratulations Clifton!

As we get closer to graduation, several of our students have achieved academic milestones.  Peter Umukoro successfully defended his dissertation entitled “Fine Particulate Exposure and Cardiac Autonomic Effects in Welders.”

Sandra Pirela successfully defended her dissertation entitled “Linking Exposures to Engineered Nanomaterials Released from Nano-Enabled Products to Biology: A Case Study of Laser Printers.

Nancy Diao successfully defended her dissertation entitled “Prenatal Metals Exposure and Child Birth and Growth in Bangladesh.”

Muzo Wu successfully defended her dissertation entitled “Innate Immunity Immunomodulators of Post-influenza Bacterial Pneumonia.”

Peter Wagner successfully defended his dissertation entitled “From Neural Stem Cells to Children: Secreted Phosphoprotein 1 in Lead Neurotoxicity.”

In addition, Cheng Peng, Ryan Calder, and Shangzhi Gao all passed their oral examinations.

Emily Sparer’s dissertation about construction worker safety is featured on the school website here.

Congratulations to you all!

Ann Backus, Director of Outreach for our Harvard-NIEHS Center Community Outreach and Engagement Core (COEC), reported that the COEC participated with the MIT Center COEC in the Cambridge Science Festival on Saturday April 18, 2015. Our Harvard Chan exhibit, titled “A Closer Look at Exposures,” included five interactive stations where participants young and older could measure their peak expiratory flow and discuss airway health, observe the differences between healthy and diseased lungs when inflating them,  use Lego™ blocks to demonstrate how carbon particles result from incomplete combustion, measure their ECG and discuss the effects of diesel exposure on cardiac response, and have an image of themselves “aged” based on whether they smoked or became obese. We thank the following for providing wonderful help during the day: HSPH doctoral and postdoctoral students, Maria Korre, Konstantina Sampani, and Alex Carll; EER research assistant, Zhao Dong; high school students Henry Long-Sieber, Olivia and Alexis Aronowitz; Visiting Scholar, Eva Madrid Aris; program assistant, Tiffany Sarkissian; and Doug’s executive assistant, Alissa Wilcox.

As evidence that we live in both a big and a small world, three environmental health ScDs from HSPH who work for the CDC volunteered for the Emergency Ebola Response and all happened to end up being posted in Sierra Leone over the winter: Ginger Chew (30 days), Carol Rao (60 days), and Rey deCastro (60 days). See picture below.

emergency ebola responders

In another part of the world that is struggling, Renee Salas is a part-time MPH student (currently on leave) with ties to both our department and MGH. She found herself in the Everest region at the time of the earthquake and avalanches. Her story has been reported in both the Harvard Gazette and the Boston Globe. We are grateful that she is safe and thankful that she is using her medical skills to help ease the suffering of the people in need.

Congratulations to Shangzhi Gao on the birth of her daughter, Elizabeth Zhou! Both are reportedly doing well.

Finally, we have several staff in our department that were nominated for various prestigious university and school awards. Patrice Ayers, John Yong, Alissa Wilcox and Nicole Bellisle were all nominated for the Harvard Heroes Award. They are all heroes to us! Congratulations to Alissa and Nicole, who were selected to receive the awards in Cambridge.

Also, congratulations to Patrice Ayers and Barbara Zuckerman, who are both among the twelve people nominated for the Sarah K. Wood Award for Outstanding Service. Congratulations to them all, and thank you to the people that took the time to recognize their contributions by nominating them.

We are heading into the busiest time of the year, as finals, dissertations, and various grant deadlines are all due soon. Good luck to everyone! The good news is the weather is beautiful and graduation / summer is right around the corner.



Notes – 4/4/2015

I have a few nice news items to share about the department as springtime finally takes hold of New England.

First, we congratulate Christa Wright who has been named a Yerby Fellow by the School. Christa is currently a postdoc in our MIPS program. We are delighted that Christa was selected for this honor, and that she will remain in our department. Joe Brain will be her mentor. Congratulations Christa!

Emily Sparer successfully defended her dissertation entitled “Improving Health and Safety in Construction: The Intersection of Programs and Policies, Work Organization, and Safety Climate” on March 25th, and Kathryn Taylor successfully defended hers, entitled “The Effect of Head Injury on Neurologic and Cognitive Health Throughout the Life Course” on April 3rd. Well done!

David Christiani delivered the prestigious Irving Kass Lecture at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. His presentation was entitled “Genetic Markers of Risk & Survival in ARDS.”  Congratulations on this honor, David!

Russ Hauser received a subcontract from Harvard Pilgrim Health Care for an NIEHS R01 entitled “Longitudinal Association of PFCs with Obesity, Diabetes, and Metabolic Syndrome.” The PIs of this grant are Drs. Emily Oken and Edward Horton. Russ also was co-author along with visiting scientist Myriam Afeiche on a paper appearing in the March 30 edition of the journal Human Reproduction entitled “Fruit and vegetable intake and their pesticide residues in relation to semen quality among men from a fertility clinic.” The paper can be found here, and it is featured on the School website here.

Lastly, we congratulate Jeff Brand from our MIPS program and wish him best of luck as he leaves us for a postdoctoral position at the University of Alabama, Birmingham.

I’d like to wish those who celebrate Good Friday and Easter and/or Passover a wonderful holiday.


Notes – 3/14/2015

Happy Pi Day! 3.14.15 for all the nerds in our department.

First of all, congratulations to Francine Laden whose promotion to Professor was approved by the Provost and President. A formal announcement is still to come, but feel free to congratulate her.

Congratulations also to Jose Guillermo Cedeno Laurent (aka Memo), who is a graduate of the EER program and currently a research fellow in CHGE. Memo was one of the seven inaugural recipients of President Drew Faust’s new Harvard University Climate Change Solutions Fund awards. Memo’s project is entitled “Sustainable Adaptation Measures to Extreme Heat Events.” You can read more about it in the Harvard Gazette here.

Next, Jack Spengler was informed that he will be receiving the ASHRAE Environmental Health Award at its annual conference in June.  ASHRAE, which has more than 50,000 members from over 132 nations, is a global society dedicated to advancing human well-being through sustainable technology for the built environment. Congratulations Jack!

Philippe Grandjean and Russ Hauser co-authored a summary paper that was presented at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting and featured in their Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. It brought to light the cost and effects that hormone disrupting chemicals have to society and to individuals. It received much coverage in the popular press and is on the school website here.

Phil Demokritou continues to be recognized for his nano work. Recently an article entitled “Nanobombs Terminate Foodborne Microbes” appeared in The Scientist. Well done, Phil!

On the student front, Ryan Calder, Chia-Hsi (Jessie) Tang, and Cheng Peng all passed their oral examinations. Raphael Arku successfully defended his dissertation Poverty, Energy Use, Air Pollution and Health in Ghana: A Spatial Analysis. Congratulations all!

It was an honor for David Christiani and me to be presenters at the Celebration of the Stars event last month.  In all, EH had 29 people who celebrated milestone years. Congratulations to all who were honored:
5 years:  Alan Branco, Mei Chen, Elisa Ghelfi, Xiaofeng Jiang, Carolyn Langer, Mi-Sun Lee, Sam Myers, Paula Leticia Tejera-Alvarez
10 years:  Melissa Curran, Choong-Min Kang, Anna Kosheleva
15 years:  Heike Gibson, Stefanos Kales, Eileen McNeely, Patricia Morey, Salvatore Mucci, Tracy Sachs, Andrea Shafer, and Antonella Zanobetti
20 years:  Russ Hauser, Bob Herrick, Joy Lawrence, Joel Schwartz, Carla Silva, Jose Vallarino, and John Yong
25 years:  Rick Rogers
30 years:  Petros Koutrakis
40 years:  Mike Wolfson

Finally, congratulations to EOME grant manager Sara Akashian and her husband Brendan on the birth of their daughter, Murphy Anne Akashian! We hear mother and baby are doing well.

And Happy St. Patrick’s day!


Notes – 2/7/2015

The temperature is in the mid-20’s this morning (-4 degrees Centigrade) this morning in Boston. Isn’t it amazing that it feels warm after the cold we have had for the past couple of weeks. Of course, this is just brief pause before another snow storm and even colder temperatures. The warmth and excitement of the Patriots’ SuperBowl win last weekend is wearing off. Remember it is only 40 days to the vernal equinox, the astronomical start of spring, and only 35 days to the start of spring break.

It was very nice to see so many of you and your families at the EH Holiday party. Thanks to Alissa Wilcox for organizing yet another wonderful party.

Congratulations to Mihye Lee who successfully defended her dissertation “The Effect of Climate Change and Air Pollution on Public Health: Epidemiological Studies and Spatial Modeling of PM2.5 Levels.”

Also congratulations to our doctoral candidates who have passed their Oral Qualifying exams: Jinming Zhang, Erica Walker, Shahir Masri, Liuhua Shi, Jia Zhong, Rachel Banay, and German Orrego.

We were pleased to learn that Huey-Jen (Jenny) Su, a 1990 EH alumnus, will become President of the National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) in Taiwan.  Jack Spengler, her mentor at HSPH, will be attending her inauguration.  I’m sure NCKU will benefit greatly from Jenny’s leadership.

Speaking of Jack Spengler, he and Julia Africa of CHGE were mentioned in a Harvard Gazette article about the benefits of open green space in urban environments. Over half of the world’s population currently living in cities, and that percentage is expected to grow rapidly in the coming decades. They argue that now is the time for urban planners and others to further study and take heed of the importance that green space in urban environments has on human health and productivity.

The American Academy of Pediatrics announced that and Alan Woolf of Children’s Hospital and Rose Goldman were awarded a cooperative agreement to direct the Region 1 PEHSU (Pediatric Enviromental Health Specialty Unit) by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The PEHSU network is the globally recognized GO TO resource for Pediatric Environmental Health expertise for clinicians, health professionals and communities. Congratulations Alan and Rose!

Our Liberty Mutual Occupational Safety and Post-Doctoral Work in Progress seminar was held last week.  I’d like to thank the following post-docs for their very interesting presentations:
Morteza Asgarzadeh, “Epidemiologic analysis of bicycle vehicle crash injuries”
Jin Lee, “Good safety climate alone may not be enough: impacts of climate variability on safety behavior”
Shiu-Ling Chiu, “Association between inter-joint coordination and balance control during stair negotiation”

Lastly, congratulations to Kelley Long, our individual donor rep from ODAR, who gave birth to Lucia Christine Long on thee Monday night at the start of the blizzard.

Enjoy the brief break today, and get ready for the next winter blast.