Fulbright Specialist Mark Hildebrandt & Air Quality Monitoring

“I want students to be able to look at data in real time to address ways in which to interact with each other–to do analyses so that they can begin to address climate change together.”–Dr. Mark Hildebrandt

Associate Professor in the Department of Geography at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Dr. Mark Hildebrandt, was recently hosted by the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Islamabad, Pakistan. In 2018, Hildebrandt was selected for the prestigious Fulbright Specialist Program (FSP), a competitive award of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The program sponsors faculty and professionals who are working on projects that promote exchanges between people of the United States and citizens of other countries.

“The long-term goals of the Fulbright program are to establish collaboration between academic institutions and promote international research and exchanges between students and faculty,” stated Hildebrandt. While in Islamabad, Hildebrandt worked on initiating an air quality monitoring program. At present, there are no known air quality monitoring networks there and according to the World Health Organization, Pakistan has some of the worst air quality in the world, reaching dangerous levels in recent years. Pakistan is clearly a geographic area in desperate need for air quality monitoring and Hildebrandt has been spearheading this project to change all of that. The monitoring station would bring scientific data to the table that could eventually be made available to the public, undoubtedly shifting the dynamic between citizens and the government about Pakistan’s ongoing public health emergency. “I have already set up monitoring stations in St. Louis, Phoenix, and Kathmandu. The question now becomes where, how, and who will fund these monitoring stations in Pakistan.”

Hildebrandt’s time in Islamabad was successful for identifying potential sites for air quality monitoring, meeting with collaborators, connecting with students who are willing to work between institutions, and allocating funds for the station. “The will and willingness to do it is there. Now, it is just a matter of putting all of the pieces together. I want students to be able to look at data in real time to address ways in which to interact with each other–to do analyses so that they can begin to address climate change together. At the end of the day, we can learn so much from each other.”

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