Fischell Institute Affiliate Fellow Spotlight: Akua Asa-Awuku

news story image

Akua Asa-Awuku is a Fischell Institute Affiliate Fellow, Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and the Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the A. James Clark School of Engineering.

Asa-Awuku first became involved with the Fischell Institute after developing an interest in biomedical device development related to the inhalation of particles. Curious to learn more, she attended a workshop in 2018 to bring together researchers at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and the University of Maryland, College Park.

Asa-Awuku's research expertise is in aerosol measurement and modeling; her lab has been instrumental in characterizing ambient particles, water uptake, and subsequent environmental fate.

Her lab is currently working on various projects, such as developing a model for the water uptake of insoluble aerosol species. Particles are exposed to high relative humidities in the atmosphere and also when inhaled through the respiratory system. Understanding the mechanisms that lead to their droplet growth is essential in understanding the fate and transport of particles inside and outside the body. Asu-Awuku's lab is working on collaborations to characterize particle removal efficiency in aerosol technology devices. Her lab is also interested in emerging contaminants like nano-plastic particles in aquatic environments.

In the future, Asa-Awuku would love to do more aerosol health-related projects. "Indoor and outdoor air quality is a serious life-threatening issue that affects millions of people," she said. "We need the development of new and economical technologies to overcome illnesses that can lead to shortened life spans and reductions in economic development."

Outside work, Asa-Awuku enjoys Zumba and is a Cub Scout den leader.

Published February 15, 2023