DSC_2840 - CopyPublic Health senior, Qian Jia, is originally from China, but her interest lies with the San Joaquin Valley where she has been conducting a study on air pollution for the past two years. Her dedication to the topic won her first place in the Student Research Project category at the 18th Annual California Unified Program (CUPA) Training Conference in Anaheim.

Jia beat out many other students from various universities and colleges throughout California, all of whom are majoring in environmental/occupational health and safety. The grand prize garnered her a $2,000 scholarship.

The annual CUPA conference brings together local, state, federal, environmental health agencies, as well as industry experts, students and public officials to learn about the latest ideas and initiatives in the field.

This was the first time a student from Fresno State won the prestigious student research award. Jia’s presentation infused elements from the Children’s Health and Air Pollution Study in the San Joaquin Valley, also known as CHAPS-SJV.

Originally from Yentai City, China, Jia came to Fresno State five years ago because of the high rate of pollution prevalent in the Central Valley, particularly Fresno County. The chance to research here was a great learning opportunity.

“The San Joaquin Valley is one of the most polluted air basins in the United States,” said Jia. “Particulate matter air pollution is a serious problem for public health in the Fresno area, especially during the winter. Almost everyone is aware of the air pollution, and concerns about the health effects resulted from air pollution. So I really want to participate in this research.”

DSC_2856Through the CHAPS-SJV study, Jia and her classmates, along with faculty in the Department of Public Health, seek to understand and reduce the risks of air pollution exposure to pregnant women and children in the San Joaquin Valley. To do this, they measured air pollutant exposure concentrations in various neighborhoods throughout Fresno. They found that women and children within close proximity to freeways or busy roads were exposed to higher volumes of air pollutants, which can lead to birth defects or preterm birth.

This study is done in partnership with U.C. Berkeley, Stanford and UCSF-Fresno.

Dr. Jaymin Kwon, an assistant professor in the Department of Public Health, is not surprised Jia came in first place. He has worked closely with her on the CHAPS-SJV study since she joined the research group in the fall of 2014.

“Ever since then, she has dedicated her time and efforts towards this study,” said Kwon. “She is such a wonderful student who always volunteers and provides valuable input on the projects. As a mentor and investigator of CHAPS-SJV research, I am so honored and proud of her that she won first place in the student research competition at the CUPA Training Conference.”

In addition to presenting at the conference, Jia has also presented at the 2015 Central California Research Symposium and co-authored the oral presentation at the International Society of Exposure Sciences with principal investigators from U.C. Berkeley and Fresno State.

Over 1,800 attended the three-day conference, which gave Jia a great chance to gain additional knowledge in the field and meet with industry leaders.

“I learned so much in the CUPA Training Conference, especially in the Hazardous and Waste and CUPA history sessions,” said Jia. “This conference offered so many sessions for participants to learn.”

Jia will graduate in May with her bachelor’s degree and plans to become an environmental health and safety specialist. She said her desire to improve public health and having a positive impact in the area fills her with great satisfaction.

Great work, Qian!


 April 4-10, 2016  is observed as National Public Health Week – a time to recognize the value of public health and its importance in ensuring happy and healthy lives for generations to come.