Mudd Talks: “Connecting Air Quality, COVID and Climate Change”

April 16, 2021 Add to Calendar

1–2 p.m.



Aerosol science bridges many disciplines and current societal challenges. From chemistry to engineering and environmental justice to public health, members of our community study how the often invisible airborne particulate matter outside, in our homes, in our breath and in our climate impacts our everyday lives. HMC Professor Lelia Hawkins and University of Colorado Boulder Professor Shelly Miller ‘86 to highlight the connections between three important challenges of the 21st century from their disciplinary perspectives.

Open to all HMC constituents.

Lelia N. Hawkins conducts research in the field of atmospheric chemistry. She studies how atmospheric particles in urban settings (like smog) are transformed as they age, specifically in fog and cloud water. These particles impact the temperature of the earth. Her work is largely concerned with organic compounds in atmospheric particles which (in Los Angeles) come primarily from fossil fuel combustion. Research in Hawkins’ lab aims to address the general question, “How does air pollution affect climate and anthropogenic climate change?” To address this question, her students work in one of four major areas: (1) ambient measurement of LA air pollution in real time, (2) simulation of brown carbon compounds and their atmospheric changes in bulk samples, (3) mapping local particulate matter with mobile sensors, and (4) simulation of brown carbon compounds in an atmospheric cloud chamber in Paris, France. This work combines traditional analytical techniques with highly specialized equipment and statistical analyses to understand air pollution better.

Shelly L. Miller '86 is a professor of mechanical engineering and faculty in the Environmental Engineering Program at the University of Colorado Boulder. She holds an M.S. and PhD in civil and environmental engineering from University of California, Berkeley and a B.S. in applied mathematics from Harvey Mudd College. Miller teaches about and investigates urban air quality and works diligently to understand the impact of air pollution on public health and the environment. She is also an expert on indoor environmental quality including air cleaning technologies and is a member of the Academy of Fellows of the International Society for Indoor Air and Climate. Miller has published over 70 peer-reviewed articles on air quality, authored a chapter on indoor air quality in the Environmental Engineering Handbook, is an active scientist on Twitter and publishes open-access as often as possible.