Doctoral Candidate Awarded EPA Grant For Study of Air Pollution in Nepal

October 1, 2014
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this week awarded Anobha Gurung, a doctoral candidate at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, a Science to Achieve Results (STAR) fellowship grant to support her research into the health impacts of air pollution in Nepal. 
Over two years, Gurung ’10 M.E.Sc. will receive $84,000 that can be used for educational development and to support a pair of studies she is currently conducting in Kathmandu Valley.
In one study, she is collecting health-related data from six regional hospitals to assess a potential connection between ambient particulate matter and hospital admissions, and to evaluate human susceptibility based on individual and community characteristics.
In the other project, she is measuring levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) at 135 separate sites in Kathmandu Valley over the course of four seasonal periods. Using that data, she will develop a model to better understand human exposure to traffic-related pollution. The research has required dozens of trips across the valley region, often on a motorbike, to prepare and monitor the data collection.
In 2012, she published a paper that revealed that urban workers were exposure to unexpectedly high levels of airborne fine particles — whether they worked indoors or outdoors. And last year, she published a study that reviewed the scientific evidence of air pollution effects across Nepal; It revealed a lack of research, although the few studies that were done indicated high pollution levels with potentially serious health consequences.
“Anobha’s ground-breaking research in the Kathmandu Valley has provided some of the first evidence linking urban air pollution and public health outcomes in her homeland of Nepal,” said F&ES Dean Peter Crane. “This very well-deserved EPA Fellowship will enable her to continue her research on this profoundly important issue.”
Gurung is one of 105 graduate and doctoral students nationwide to receive the grant. Another recipient is Michelle Legaspi, a doctoral candidate in chemistry at Yale.
“These fellowships are helping our next generation of scientists and engineers earning advanced degrees in environmental sciences conduct cutting edge research,” said Lek Kadeli, Acting Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “Through this support, EPA is ensuring that the United States will have the scientific knowledge to meet future environmental challenges, which will strengthen our nation’s economy and security, while better protecting our health and environment in addition to combating climate change.”
Gurung, who will return to Nepal next month for the next phase of her traffic exposure study, called the award “a great validation that this work is important.”