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Geo Interns install air quality monitoring stations in Robeson County

September 28, 2023 Geo Interns install air quality monitoring stations in Robeson County

In July, six participants in the Geo Interns program, led by Megan Hughes, STEM pathways program manager in the Center for Public Engagement with Science, built solar-powered air quality monitoring stations at two locations of the Boys and Girls Club of the Lumbee Tribe. All six hail from Robeson County and are undergraduate students at UNC system universities: Julia Autry (UNC-Pembroke, ’26), Gabral Locklear (UNC-Chapel Hill, ’25), Elizabeth Olan Lopez (UNC-Chapel Hill, ’25), Suzzy Maldonado (UNC-Chapel Hill, ’26), Josh McNeill (UNC-Chapel Hill, ’26) and Hannah Strickland (UNC-Chapel Hill, ’25).

Interns worked alongside the ECUIPP Lab (Environmentally-Engaged Communities and Undergraduate Students Investigating for Public Health Protection) in the Gillings School of Global Public Health with several faculty members, including Jada Brooks, School of Nursing, and Amanda Northcross and Will Vizuete, both of Gillings School of Global Public Health Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering. Anne Weaver of U.S. EPA also supported the project.

The students learned about the importance of air quality monitoring networks in protecting human health as the team successfully installed the air quality stations. These stations are now collecting data on particulate matter (PM-2.5), which are very small particles that can be inhaled into the lungs, as part of the Purple Air monitoring network. Funding for the internships was provided by Burroughs Wellcome Fund Student STEM Enrichment Program and UNC Institute for the Environment.