Group News

Research group members participate in 2019 CMAS Conference

October 23, 2019 – PhD students Sadia Afrin, Megan Johnson, James East, and Qian Luo presented their research at the 2019 annual CMAS Conference (Community Modeling and Analysis System Conference) in Chapel Hill, NC.

Sadia and Megan each prepared posters on their work with wildland fire impacts. Sadia presented a poster on “Evaluating the air quality impacts of an operational prescribed burning program.” Megan’s poster was titled “A comparison of land management modeling tools as used for estimating prescribed fire smoke impacts.”

Qian and James delivered platform presentations; Qian presented her work titled “Optimal use of grid-connected energy storage to reduce human health impacts,” and James presented “Particulate matter sensitivity to local emissions and meteorology over a Latin American megacity for source apportionment and uncertainty analysis.” Additionally, visiting PhD student Karen Ballesteros-González (from Universidad de los Andes in Colombia) talked about “Impacts of Medium-Range Transport of Biomass Burning Aerosols on Air Quality and Public Health in Colombia”.

The CMAS Conference is a premier air quality modeling conference that attracts researchers and atmospheric scientists from around the world. The conference agenda, including the presentations by each of the group members, can be found here.

Sadia receives Graduate Research Innovation award from the JFSP

October 4, 2019 – PhD student Sadia Afrin was awarded a prestigious Graduate Research Innovation (GRIN) award from the US Joint Fire Science Program (JFSP). The award funds student-authored proposals for original research that augments their dissertation work and enhances its policy relevance. The $25,000 award will support Sadia’s effort to compare the costs of an operational prescribed burning program to those of unplanned wildfires in collaboration with the NC Department of Parks and Recreation. Congratulations Sadia!

James and Fernando speak at CASAP in Barranquilla, Colombia

August 16, 2019 – Dr. Fernando Garcia Menendez and PhD student James East presented research at the 2019 Colombian Congress and International Conference on Air Quality and Public Health in Barranquilla, Colombia. James presented his research focused on air quality modeling in a talk titled “A source-scaling method for PM source apportionment in CMAQ simulations of Bogota air quality.” Fernando gave an invited talk titled “Wildland fire, air quality, and public health in the Southeastern U.S.”

The CASAP Congress (a Spanish acronym for Calidad de Aire y Salud Publica) is a biennial international conference for air quality and public health research that gathers Colombian and international researchers. This year, the conference was held in Barranquilla, on the north coast of the country. At the conference, our collaborators Dr. Jorge Pachon and Juan Montealegre from Universidad de La Salle in Bogota, Colombia also presented their work. Additionally, Fernando visited La Salle University in Bogota prior to the Conference to discuss ongoing research collaboration and give a lecture on air quality modeling to Environmental Engineering students.

Fiona presents summer research at Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium

August 1, 2019 – Visiting undergraduate research assistant Fiona Tennyson presented a poster titled, “A Comparison of Prescribed Burn Smoke Modeling Tools and their Use by Landowners: HYSPLIT and VSMOKE” at the 18th NC State University Annual Summer Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium. Fiona, an environmental engineering student at the University of Florida, described the work she did with PhD student Megan Johnson as a participant in the Research Internship Summer Experience (RISE) program. During the summer, Fiona explored how two commonly used dispersion modeling tools could be used to estimate downwind health impacts from prescribed fire smoke. RISE is an eight-week program offered by NC State’s Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering for engineering undergraduates and graduates interested in pursuing a research-based graduate degree. Participants spend the summer learning about research while being mentored by faculty and graduate students.

Fernando participates in NCAR’s Large Ensemble Workshop

July 26, 2019 – Dr. Fernando Garcia Menendez participated and gave a talk at the National Center for Atmospheric Research’s first Large Ensemble workshop in Boulder, CO. The workshop gathered a diverse group of researchers to discuss recent advances in internal climate variability and large ensemble modeling. Fernando’s presentation discussed our group’s research on “Internal variability in projections of climate change impacts on air quality and health”.

“Future Ingenieros” visit NC State and CCEE

July 10, 2019 – A group of bright NC high school students interested in engineering visited NC State and were hosted by our research group as part of the Future Ingenieros program. During the visit, students did 3D printing at the NCSU Makerspace, toured the Biomanufacturing Training and Education Center, and visited the construction site of Fitts-Woolard Hall, our Department’s future home. Minerva Bonilla, a graduate student in construction engineering, led this year’s activities in collaboration with NC State’s Juntos community program.


James receives A&WMA scholarship; Fernando presents at Annual Conference in Quebec

June 28, 2019 – PhD student James East was awarded the A&WMA Sustainability Research and Study Related to Air Quality and Waste Management Scholarship in recognition of his academic excellence and professionalism. This student designation is given to acknowledge exceptional work in air quality research and study. Congratulations James!

Additionally, Dr. Fernando Garcia Menendez delivered a talk at the 2019 Air & Waste Management Association’s Annual Conference in Quebec City. In his talk titled “Connections between prescribed fire, air quality, and communities in the Southeastern U.S.”, Fernando discussed research led by NC State PhD student Sadia Afrin with collaborators from the US Forest Service and Georgia Tech.

Qian presents at 2019 AEESP and ISSST Conferences

June 28, 2019 – PhD student Qian Luo presented a poster titled “Optimal Use of Grid-Connected Energy Storage to Reduce Human Health Impacts” at the 2019 Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors Research and Education Conference in Tempe, AZ. The poster described Qian’s research focused on benefiting from the ability of grid-connected energy storage to shift the time and location of electricity generation as a strategy to reduce the human health impacts of emissions from the power sector. Qian also shared this research as an oral presentation at the 2019 International Symposium on Sustainable Systems and Technology in Portland, OR.

Sadia, Megan, and James present their research at NC Breathe Conference

April 15, 2019 – PhD students Sadia Afrin, Megan Johnson, and James East presented their work at the 2019 NC Breathe Conference in Wilmington, North Carolina. Sadia and James were invited to present 5 minute Lightning Talks entitled “Public Health Impacts of Intense Prescribed Burn Activity in Socially Vulnerable Communities of the Southeastern U.S.” and “Sensitivity of Particulate Matter Pollution to Emissions Sector Changes in a Latin American Megacity”, respectively. They also presented posters of their work. Megan presented a poster entitled “Uncertainty in Estimated Health and Air Quality Impacts from the 2016 Southern Appalachian Wildfires.” In the student poster competition, Megan received the 2019 Best Student Poster Award. Congratulations, Megan! The NC Breathe Conference is annually hosted by Clean Air Carolina and brings together researchers, policymakers, and activists from various disciplines to share research and updates about the impacts of air pollution. The theme this year was “Environmental Justice in North Carolina.”

Fernando receives Gertrude Cox Award for Innovative Excellence in Teaching and Learning with Technology

April 12, 2019 – Dr. Fernando Garcia Menendez received the 2019 Gertrude Cox Award for Innovative Excellence in Teaching and Learning with Technology. This teaching award honors the creative pedagogy of NC State’s faculty and their work in integrating new technologies into effective teaching strategies. The award is named for Gertrude Cox, “The First Lady of Statistics,” who came to NC State in 1940 to establish the university’s Department of Statistics. Fernando was selected as this year’s recipient along with Dr. Doug Call for their work to redesign the “Fundamentals of Environmental Engineering” course offered at NC State. This multi-year project was completed in collaboration with NC State’s Distance Education and Learning Technology Applications (DELTA) office and was supported by a DELTA Critical Path Course Redesign grant. Fernando was presented with the award at the 2018-19 University Teaching Awards Ceremony.

Megan and Fernando speak at AGU Fall Meeting

December 10, 2018 – PhD student Megan Johnson and Dr. Fernando Garcia Menendez and presented their research at the 2018 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in Washington, D.C. Fernando was invited to discuss his work on “Uncertainty in integrated projections of climate change impacts on air quality, public health, and policy benefits,” for which he is working closely with PhD student James East. Megan presented her work on “Identifying Major Sources of Uncertainty in Estimates of Wildfire Impacts on Air Quality and Public Health.” She also discussed this same work in a special science communication/education session during which the speakers could only use the 1000 most common words in the English language (read more about this special session here). Megan received a Travel Assistance Award from the NC State Graduate Student Association to present her work at this conference.

National Academy invites Fernando to Arab-American Frontiers Symposium

November 6, 2018 – Dr. Fernando Garcia Menendez participated in the 2018 Arab-American Frontiers of Science, Engineering and Medicine Symposium in Kuwait City at the invitation of the National Academy of Science and the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Science. The Frontiers Symposium gathers a select group of young engineers, scientists and medical professionals from the US and 22 Arab League countries to discuss their latest ideas and explore research collaborations. This year’s symposium included discussions related to air quality, water systems, big data, the microbiome, and next-generation infrastructure.