E2SHI’s Ben Hobbs to co-direct new interdisciplinary center
A new interdisciplinary science team, led by experts from Johns Hopkins and Yale universities and funded by the Environmental Protection Agency, will study how power generation trends, climate change, and public policy interact to affect air quality. A key goal of this project is to trace how the resulting changes in air pollution may affect the health of people who live and work in the mid-Atlantic area.
To help unravel this environmental puzzle, the EPA has awarded a five-year, $10 million grant to establish a new Solutions for Energy, Air, Climate and Health Center, based at Yale and co-led by Johns Hopkins. The SEARCH Center includes prominent researchers from Johns Hopkins and eight other institutions.
Johns Hopkins alumna and Yale faculty member Michelle Bell will direct the new center.
Benjamin Hobbs, Theodore M. and Kay W. Schad Professor of Environmental Management in the Whiting School of Engineering’s Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering, and director of the Environment, Energy, Sustainability and Health Institute (E2SHI), is co-director of the new center. About $3 million of the new EPA grant will be channeled through E²SHI to support Johns Hopkins’ interdisciplinary contribution to the research effort, Hobbs said, making this the institute’s most ambitious endeavor since its launch in 2010.
The SEARCH Center will explore how different energy policy scenarios could affect public health in a particular region. For example, if market conditions cause a large number of motorists to switch to fuels that emit fewer pollutants, how would that impact the health of nearby people with respiratory ailments? If, at the same time, climate change leads to higher temperatures and therefore more use of air conditioning and more power consumption, how would that increase the risk of smog episodes?