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Faculty & Staff Honors

Faculty & Staff Honors

UMass Amherst Professor Awarded Funding from the Worldwide Universities Network

Dr. Richard Peltier of the University of Massachusetts Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences is leading one of two research teams from the campus awarded funding from the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) to initiate global projects designed to ultimately impact millions of people in the developing world.

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[Photo: Dr. Richard Peltier (center) in his lab at UMass Amherst]

Dr. Peltier’s Air Sensors Everywhere project aims to develop a framework for distributed systems of low-cost air pollution sensing hardware and software that can be used to address a global pandemic responsible for millions of premature deaths and altering the global climate balance. The team, co-led by UMass Amherst Professor of Environmental Conservation and Public Policy Dr. Charles Schweik, includes 14 experts from 13 institutions in Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Germany, Ghana, Nepal, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Air Sensors Everywhere will produce open-source and freely available software, coupled with hardware that is both inexpensive to obtain and easy to assemble, for pilot demonstrations in developing countries. These resources will be provided freely to project collaborators, as well as to anyone with Internet access, with the goal of ultimately empowering millions of people to build upon these developments and construct a highly scalable and utilitarian instrument base capable of answering a wide range of questions on worldwide air quality.

“This is a truly innovative research project that will have major impact in both the public health and climate change spheres,” said Dr. John Hearn, executive director of WUN. “The captivating element is the fact that it will provide open-source, scalable information to millions of people and empowering communities.”

Total support for Dr. Peltier’s project, including WUN funds and matching amounts by participating universities, is €11,000.

This is UMass Amherst’s first year as a member of WUN, an 18-university global higher education and research network spanning 10 countries on five continents that is dedicated to developing innovative solutions to some of the world’s most significant challenges. The seed grants from WUN’s Research Development Fund will enable the projects to build an initial track record to attract long-term funding from the public sector, foundations, and industry.

A team led by Dr. Om Parkash of the Stockbridge School of Agriculture also was awarded funding from WUN. In recognizing the grants, Dr. Elizabeth Chilton, associate vice chancellor for research and engagement, and the UMass Amherst coordinator for WUN, said, “These projects represent two fine examples of the breadth of talent and vision that UMass Amherst researchers bring to the challenge of helping to address global challenges. Our faculty members look forward to collaborating with academic partners around the world in many ways. Our university’s membership in WUN gives them an excellent platform for finding partners and teaming up on important projects such as these.”