Title: Assistant Professor
Group: Environmental Engineering
Office: ECCH 134
Honors and Distinctions:
Health Effects of Aerosols
Dr. Montoya’s primary area of research is the study of indoor air quality and the health effects of aerosols (a.k.a. particulate matter). She is especially interested in elucidating the role that biological and physicochemical characteristics of various aerosols play in the development of disease and toxicity. One major thrust of this research is developing new models for the study of disease. In the case of allergenic aerosols, she focuses on the link to allergies and asthma. In this general area, she is also trying to elucidate the connection between the physico-chemical characteristics of various nanoparticles (e.g., TiO2, Al2O3, nanotubes) and possible toxicity and immune effects using in vitro models. This work is presently being funded by the NSF Nanotech Center at Rensselaer and in collaboration with researchers in the Biomedical Engineering department at Rensselaer and the Center for Immunology and Microbial Diseases at Albany Medical College.
Indoor Air Quality and Exposure
Present research in Dr. Montoya’s laboratory also includes the development of instrumentation and techniques to measure, model, and control common airborne pollutants in indoor environments and to assess human exposure to these agents. In this general area, she is working on the development and characterization of a personal aeroallergen sampler for children based on microtrap technology. This sampler is intended for applications in Public Health where large exposure studies are often in need of small, affordable and rugged instrumentation. Characterization of an area sampler is being completed and further development for a personal sampler will follow. Another research thrust includes the development of experimental and computational models to assess respiratory particle deposition using physiologically correct morphologies and unsteady flow models in humans. These model are intended both for the study of disease as well as for target delivery of therapeutics.
Another research area that Dr. Montoya intends to grow at CUB is sustainability. Part of her efforts thus far have been focused on developing a program in indoor air quality and affordable technologies for the developing world. So far, she has conducted most of this work within her design classes at Rensselaer and through independent projects with undergraduate students in various departments. She intends to continue this line of research and pursue further funding, particularly in the areas of air quality, energy, and affordable housing. In this general area, she is also focusing on developing technologies for “smart, green buildings” for industrialized countries. The focus of this project is the improvement of indoor air quality using active flow control methods while decreasing the energy burden of HVAC systems. In an additional collaboration with architects, this research team is looking at the use of hydroponics for improving indoor air quality. For this work, this team recently (August 2009) received the First Prize in the third annual ARCHITECT magazine R+D Awards (“Active Phytoremediation Wall System”).