CAR Postdoctoral Fellows

CAR Postdoctoral Fellows

Postdoctoral Fellowships have now been awarded by the Centre for Air quality and health Research and Evaluation to Australian scientists to investigate air pollution and its effects on human health. These Fellowships offer these early career researchers opportunities to be mentored by Australia’s foremost researchers and a platform to expand their skills and expertise. This exciting postdoctoral fellowship program will enable the career development of future leaders in air pollution and health research.

Current CAR Postdoctoral Fellows

Dr Christine Cowie

Dr Christine Cowie

My research program is focussed on urban exposures, specifically, the effects of traffic related air pollution. The fellowship will extend my current research program in the following directions:
- improve understanding of susceptible populations by examining gene-environment interactions
- test the transferability of a land use regression model (LUR), a method used for assigning air pollution exposures in epidemiological studies, to different geographic areas
- improve the understanding of factors influencing personal exposure to nitrogen dioxide (NO2)
- characterise air pollutant exposures in urban settings and their impact on respiratory health.
My vision is to conduct research that impacts on urban transport and planning policy to help reduce the burden of TRAP exposures on health.

Dr Grant Williamson

Dr Grant Williamson

Landscape fire across the Australian continent is a significant contributor to episodic particulate pollution (PM) events, as a result of natural wildfires and prescribed or planned burning operations. PM concentration from wildfire smoke events can vary significantly across an urban airshed, and on-ground monitors are limited in the spatial and temporal resolution of particulate detection. The aim of my project is to work with a key developer of high-resolution physical atmospheric transport models in Australia, Martin Cope (CSIRO) to evaluate how well these models predict PM concentration in human population centres, and to help establish emissions factors for Australian vegetation types to improve these models

Dr Amanda Wheeler

Dr Amanda Wheeler

Two currently funded research projects will be the focus of my fellowship. The first, already funded by CAR, will investigate whether PAH and metals signatures resulting from residential house dust collected from homes in the Latrobe Valley, Victoria can be used to assign exposures to the Hazelwood coal mine fire. The data will be used to generate an exposure index for the population recruited as part of the 10-year health study - Hazelwood Mine Fire Health Study. The second study, funded by Sense-T (a UTAS initiative funded by the Commonwealth Government), will investigate the feasibility of setting up an air quality monitoring network across Tasmania and using the data to support a mobile phone app for individuals with asthma and allergy. The app will allow individuals to report their symptoms, these will be used to generate individualized reports based on forecasted air quality that will allow each individual to manage their medications and activities to improve their health related to environmental triggers.

Dr Jennifer Perret

Dr Jennifer Perret

Dr Jennifer Perret is a post-doctoral fellow of the Allergy and Lung Health Unit, The University of Melbourne, who is funded by a CAR post-doctoral fellowship and has a background in respiratory and sleep medicine. Using data from the Tasmanian Longitudinal Health Study (TAHS) and Melbourne Longitudinal COPD cohort, she aims to examine the independent and combined effects of outdoor air pollution and smoking as they relate to lung function, in addition to the potential role of poor air quality in acute exacerbations of COPD. She will also explore relationships with pro-inflammatory cytokines, and participate on the research training subcommittee.

Dr Luke Knibbs

Dr Luke Knibbs

Dr Luke Knibbs conducts research on the health effects of environmental risk factors, with a specific focus on air pollution. He is a Senior Lecturer in Environmental Health at the University of Queensland, and joined the School of Public Health there in 2012. Prior to that, he did 3 years' postdoctoral training at QUT's International Laboratory for Air Quality and Health. He has a special interest in air pollution and leveraging new approaches to improving exposure assessment in environmental epidemiology, including integration of land use regression and satellite data. He collaborates widely within the CAR network and its members to address novel questions about air pollution and its impacts on health in Australia and overseas. He is on the editorial board of Atmospheric Environment.

Dr Farhad Salimi

Dr Farhad Salimi

There is significant evidence from time-series studies showing adverse effects of short-term exposure to a range of ambient air pollutants on human health, however, evidence on the effects of long-term exposure is not conclusive. The main aim of my postdoctoral research program is to quantify the association of long-term exposure to ambient air pollution with hospital admissions.
The 45 and Up Study has recruited more than 250,000 men and women aged 45 and over living in the state of New South Wales, Australia. Baseline data were collected between 2006 and 2009 and covered previous and current health status, known risk factors, likely confounding factors, and potential mediators of risk. I will firstly link the participants in the 45 and Up Study with hospital admission and air pollution data. Afterwards, I will use statistical models to study the association between hospital admission and exposure to air pollution.

Dr Ivan Hannigan

Dr Ivan Hannigan

I am a multidisciplinary data manager and analyst with over 15 years experience at seven Australian universities and the CSIRO, especially the ANU. I am currently a Data Scientist at the University of Canberra Health Research Institute. I recently completed my PhD at the ANU National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health. Until 2013 I worked closely with Tony McMichael's Climate Change and Health program at ANU. In 2014/15 I led the development of the data portal for the Long Term Ecological Research Network. I work on data analysis that disentangles health effects of environmental changes from social factors. I give special attention to issues of reproducibility, data management, security, privacy and ethics, with my research into climate and mental health as a key motivating use-case.

Dr Gayan Bowatte

Dr Gayan Bowatte

Over the past decades a rapid increase in chronic respiratory diseases and allergies has been observed, especially in developed countries. Outdoor air pollution is the most common type of anthropogenic environmental pollutant in urban settings, and exposes a large number of people to a complex mixture of pollutants. The effect of air pollution exposure on chronic respiratory diseases and allergies can vary across individuals. These variations suggest the presence of additional factors which influence this association. The focus of my research project is to examine effects of long term exposure to air pollution on lung health and allergic diseases in Australian children and adults using long term follow up cohort studies. In my fellowship I will also examine how these effects can be modified by residential green space and genetic polymorphisms.

Past CAR Postdoctoral Fellows

Dr Yuming Guo

Dr Yuming Guo

The impacts of air pollution on human health have been drawing increasing concern from the environmental health research community, government, society, and the general population. At the same time, temperature-related mortality has become a matter of increasing public health significance, especially because of climate change. The interactive effects between air pollutants and temperature on mortality is a key challenge to both society and government decision makers worldwide. In the proposed study, I will use advanced models to quantify the interactive effects of air pollutants and temperature on mortality.

Dr Caroline Lodge

Dr Caroline Lodge

My fellowship will investigate the influence of air pollution on lung health, specifically addressing the two diseases which carry the largest burden, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). I aim to improve the definition of exposure categories of air pollution and to improve classification of asthma through phenotyping, or grouping cases with similar features. Following phenotype classification in a long running cohort study, I will investigate relationships between these phenotypes and the development of COPD. Additionally, I will investigate how air pollution exposure influences the risk of belonging to each phenotype and the transition from asthma to COPD.

Dr Martine Dennekamp

Dr Martine Dennekamp

My Fellowship will consist of a two part research program. The first will address a current gap in knowledge by investigating individual level health effects of smoke exposure from planned burns. The second part will focus on population level health effects looking at long and short term exposures to air pollutants on respiratory and cardiovascular health effects using Australian population-based registries or using strong study designs (cohort studies) of detailed health outcomes.

Dr Sam Clifford

Dr Sam Clifford

I completed my PhD in statistical modelling of air quality at the Queensland University of Technology. My work on spatio-temporal modelling of ultrafine particles is part of the International Laboratory for Air Quality and Health's project, Ultrafine Particles from Traffic Emissions and Child Health, and aims to quantify the spatial and temporal variation in air quality in the Brisbane Metropolitan Area. As a CAR postdoctoral fellow, I will develop and apply models for analysis as diverse as personal sampling exposure data, clustering health and demographics survey data and meta-analysis of fungus and aerosol concentration.

Dr Shanshan Li

Dr Shanshan Li

Exposure data from fixed monitors have been widely used for air pollution and health studies. However, this approach has limited spatial and temporal coverage: exposure estimates for persons located far from monitors may be less reliable. My postdoctoral research program aims to use novel methods to assess the spatiotemporal PM2.5 exposure using observed and satellite-based PM2.5, and to link the predicted PM2.5 exposure to birth outcomes in Brisbane, Australia. This program will deliver important information to develop public health practice concerning impacts of air pollution and will provide significant insights to communicate the health risks of air pollution.