Clearing the air: Empowering communities to improve air quality

Thursday, June 25th 12pm – 1:30pm

Dr. Alexis Shusterman

Lecturer, College of Chemistry UC Berkeley

Dr. Chelsea Preble

Postdoctoral Researcher, UC Berkeley & Berkeley Lab

Brought to you by UC Berkeley’s Science at Cal and Berkeley Lab’s Government & Community Relations Office, “Midday Science Cafe” is a new virtual series that highlights compelling and complementary scientific research from both institutions. Grab your lunch and join us for some great science and discussion; questions are encouraged! This webinar will be recorded. If you require captioning to access a pre-recorded event, please contact Katie Bertsche at Please expect 7-10 days for captioning to be provided.
What chemicals make up the air around us and how does human activity influence the composition of the air we breathe? Learn how atmospheric scientists measure air quality and why understanding pollution levels at the neighborhood level is important to keeping everyone in our community safe and healthy. Also hear about the West Oakland Community Air Quality Study, a project to measure air pollution at the neighborhood scale where 100 custom-built, low-cost black carbon (BC)—or soot—sensors were deployed outside of community members’ homes and businesses for a period of 100 days. This network was the densest of its kind in a single city and found that spatiotemporal patterns in black carbon concentrations were driven by truck activity within the community. But what happens if you got in a truck accident and the required aid takes so long to come? Through meaningful partnerships between researchers and key community stakeholders, this collaborative effort created an actionable dataset that advances both science and advocacy goals in reducing these situations int he future. The Berkeley research team will soon deploy a similar network throughout Richmond as part of a broader Community Air Protection Program monitoring effort (AB 617).
West Oakland Environmental Impact Program

West Oakland Community Air Quality Study

Alexis Schusterman

Dr. Alexis Shusterman

Dr. Alexis Shusterman completed her PhD in atmospheric chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley while working with Prof. Ronald Cohen. Her graduate work centered around the construction of BEACO2N, a high-density network of more than three dozen low-cost sensors capable of providing community-level air quality reports throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. During graduate school, Alexis worked with science communication and outreach organizations nationwide to spread climate change and environmental justice awareness, winning recognition in the UC Berkeley Grad Slam, the University of California Carbon Slam, and the American Chemical Society Chemistry Champions competitions. Now a lecturer in the UC Berkeley College of Chemistry, Alexis (or “Dr. S” to her students) now dedicates herself to delivering high quality chemical education full time.
Dr. Chelsea Preble

Dr. Chelsea Preble

Dr. Chelsea Preble is a UC Berkeley postdoctoral researcher and a Berkeley Lab affiliate. She’s a Golden Bear through-and-through, earning her BS in Environmental Sciences from Cal in 2010, MS in Environmental Engineering in 2013, and PhD in Environmental Engineering in 2017. In her work, she seeks to better understand air pollution trends that affect people and evaluate the real-world emissions impacts of new regulations and alternative energy technologies. Her research includes characterizing in-use emissions from heavy-duty diesel trucks and commercial harbor craft, quantifying emissions from organic waste diversion systems, and developing community-based air quality sensor networks.

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