Air pollution, race, and health outcomes for COVID-19
A team led by Francesca Dominici, Clarence James Gamble Professor of Biostatistics, Population, and Data Science at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, examined the association between small increases in long-term exposure to air pollution and COVID-19 mortality in the U.S. In this study, they found that a one-unit increase in fine inhalable particles is associated with an 8 percent increase in the COVID-19 death rate.
This research served as a key building block for international collaboration between Dominici and Italian scientist Andrea Pozzer of the Max Plank Institute for Chemistry. Together, they determined 15 percent of deaths worldwide from COVID-19 could be attributed to long-term exposure to air pollution. Their research has led to several other publications, including commentary on COVID-19, air pollution, and racial inequality, and was cited widely by The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Guardian, and tweeted by then-candidate Joe Biden in April 2020.
Building the world’s smallest flying machines
David Keith, Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Physics at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and professor of public policy at Harvard Kennedy School, and a team of researchers used the grant to augment their work designing, fabricating, and studying ultralight micro- and macroscale structures that could levitate in Earth’s atmosphere solely via the photophoretic force, a phenomenon in which particles seem to defy gravity when illuminated by an intense beam of light.
The group made significant progress in fabricating different structures and modeling their ability to levitate in the atmosphere. They are also investigating various mechanical behaviors of the structures and hope to submit papers on the design, fabrication, and modeling of candidate structures within a few months.
They believe these levitated structures could have broad use in atmospheric science and data communications, especially in the stratosphere. It may lead to the ability to loft microprocessors, sensors, and antennae on individual structures. The Star-Friedman Challenge has helped further their experimentation as they work towards a point where researchers can reliably make and model the world’s smallest flying machines.