Past Features

March 10, 2008 (Vol. 7, No. 4)

Grad Student Receives Award for Presentation on Asthma in the Bronx

Andrew Maroko (center) receives a certificate for his presentation from Dr. Alfred Powell (right) and Dr. Priti Brahma (left), both of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Andrew Maroko (center) receives a certificate for his presentation from Dr. Alfred Powell (right) and Dr. Priti Brahma (left), both of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Andrew Maroko, a Ph.D. student in the Earth and Environmental Science program at the CUNY Graduate Center and Lehman College, received a cash award and a certificate last month for his work on the relationship between pollution and disease in the Bronx. The award was given at the NOAA-CREST Symposium, held February 20-22 at the University of Puerto Rico in Mayaguez.

At the symposium, Maroko presented the paper "Loose-coupling an air dispersion model and a geographic information system (GIS): Asthma and air pollution in the Bronx, New York City." He coauthored the paper with Professor Juliana Maantay (Environmental, Geographic, and Geological Sciences) and Jun Tu, also a Ph.D. candidate in the Earth and Environmental Science program. The paper describes a set of novel procedures for linking a mathematical pollutant dispersion model and a geographical information system.

Using asthma and air pollution as a case study to illustrate the new method, the study demonstrated that more people in the Bronx were exposed to air pollution from major stationary point sources than was previously known. The findings of the study will enable health researchers, epidemiologists, and others to look more realistically at the relationship between pollution and disease.

"I suppose the simplest thing to say is that there is a statistically significant association between estimated exposure to certain locally emitted airborne pollutants and an increased risk of being hospitalized for asthma," said Maroko.

Maroko holds an undergraduate degree in biology from Rutgers University and an advanced graduate certificate in Geographic Information Science from Lehman. He has been a NOAA-CREST fellow since 2003, working with Professor Maantay on several projects funded by NOAA-CREST and NIEHS, including the habitat of the West Nile Virus vector. NIEHS (the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences) is a division of the NIH.

"Andrew is an amazing quantitative geographer and one of the best spatial analysts at CUNY," said Professor Maantay. "He has high-level critical thinking skills and an uncanny ability to dissect a problem down to its bare bones essentials, and then figure out an intriguing new approach to fleshing out a solution. This award from NOAA is a well-deserved recognition of a professional-caliber presentation."