SPUR 2022: Electric Bus Air Quality Monitoring Platform: Findings and Implications

NOTE: This project is funded by a grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (PIs: Sara Grineski and Tim Collins). In addition to being part of SPUR, it is also part of the HAPPIEST program. Applicants must be University of Utah students who identify in one or more of the following ways (defined by the National Institutes of Health): Blacks or African Americans, Hispanics or Latinxs, American Indians or Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and other Pacific Islanders. Two students will be selected to work on this project together.

Background

The electric bus air quality monitoring platform is a novel mobile platform where electric buses operated by the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) have been outfitted with sensors measuring fine particulate matter (PM2.5), ozone, and nitrogen oxides (NOx). This unique project follows in the footsteps of the TRAX air quality monitoring project and is a collaboration between Salt Lake County, UTA, Utah Division of Air Quality (DAQ), and the University of Utah. The focus of this study is to measure pollution at the residential level and particular attention has been placed on making sure the buses travel on routes servicing the underserved West Side of Salt Lake County. The valuable information will help inform policy and health decisions through a lens of equity and environmental justice.

Student Role

The student would be working on any of multiple available roles depending on their interest. A student with interest in instrumentation would participate in the monthly inspection and maintenance visits at the bus depot in addition to working on the lab to test and calibrate equipment. Additionally, the student would perform data analysis and quality control. A student with greater interest in health or policy would perform research on the implications related to the measurements and develop interventions towards environmental and health equity. This role would also involve communication with outreach partners and stakeholders.

Student Learning Outcomes & Benefits

This transdisciplinary experience will prepare a student to tackle real life problems and projects with a holistic perspective considering basic sciences, health, social sciences, and policy with and equity lens. The interdisciplinary mentoring team has substantial experience transforming research into enactable policy and will work with the students to identify avenues to do so. Furthermore, we will work with stakeholders and community partners and teach the students how to effectively engage and communicate with these critical groups.

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Daniel Mendoza
Research Assistant Professor

Atmospheric Sciences
College of Mines & Earth Sciences
Global Change and Sustainability Center

We believe that the best way to learn is from guided experience. A graduate student mentor will be part of the team and will guide the summer students and help bridge the experience. We will work with the students at the beginning of the summer to identify their interests and areas they would like to develop and will craft a roadmap for the project’s duration. We’ll set up weekly meetings to understand progress and goals and make any necessary adjustments. The graduate student mentor will work with the students on a daily basis to make sure we are on track.