UGA engineering professor wins grant to study health impact of elusive combustion particles

Rawad Saleh and studentA University of Georgia researcher has been awarded a prestigious junior faculty grant from Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU).

Rawad Saleh, an assistant professor in the UGA College of Engineering, received the Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award from ORAU for his research on the effects of particulate combustion emissions on human health.

The Powe Awards provide seed funding to enhance the research and professional growth of junior faculty at ORAU member institutions. Each recipient receives a one-year, $5,000 research grant from ORAU, which is matched by the faculty member’s institution. Saleh is one of 37 recipients of the grant at institutions across the nation.

“Particulate matter, which is produced by forest fires, vehicles, agricultural burning and other sources, degrades the quality of air we breathe,” said Saleh. “We propose to integrate advances in combustion science, emissions characterization, atmospheric chemistry, and cell-culture toxicology to address the effects of combustion particulate matter on human health.”

Combustion particulate matter is a product of a series of complex chemical and physical processes and it’s difficult to study, according to Saleh. He says scientists don’t fully understand the impact of fine particle pollution on human health, making it difficult to design effective national and global environmental and health policy.

Saleh will collaborate with Hitesh Handa, also an assistant professor in the College of Engineering, on the project.

Saleh joined the UGA faculty in 2016. Prior to coming to Athens, he spent five years in the Center for Atmospheric Particulate Studies at Carnegie Mellon University as a research scientist and a postdoctoral researcher. Saleh earned a doctorate in environmental engineering from Duke University, a master’s in mechanical engineering from the American University of Beirut, and a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from Middle East Technical University.

Oak Ridge Associated Universities is a university consortium that combines the scientific strength of 121 major research institutions to advance science and education by partnering with national laboratories, government agencies and private industry.

For more information on fellowships, awards and grants offered by ORAU, visit

To learn more about Saleh and his research, go to

By Mike Wooten

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