Faculty Spotlight: Prof. Kristina Wagstrom

By Sydney Souder

Wagstrom CaptionProf. Kristina Wagstrom, through work in her Computational Atmospheric Chemistry and Exposure Lab, strives to improve the science and functionality of computational approaches in air pollution. Her overarching objective is to develop improved regional and global air pollution models for use by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other state agencies.

Prof. Wagstrom’s current projects here in the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department at UConn include tracking the global transport of particulate matter, and high resolution modeling. One of her goals is to determine the impact of particulate matter generated in different regions and continents on air pollution throughout the globe. Her research group is improving air pollution exposure estimates by coupling local and regional scale models. The overall intention is to create an efficient means of assisting policymakers in their decisions.MapCaptionWagstrom

“I want to be doing something that makes a difference in both the short and long term,” she says, “I enjoy working on projects where I can see the impact in five, six, seven years.”

Prof. Wagstrom’s outlook is strongly influenced by the Science and Technology Policy Fellowship she was engaged in directly before coming to UConn in 2013. This highly competitive fellowship, administered by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), immerses outstanding scientists and engineers into federal policymaking to gain a stronger understanding of the intersection between science and policy.

As a fellow, Prof. Wagstrom worked at the EPA and, as a consequence, was able to observe the research grant funding process from an insider’s perspective, as well as how larger government decisions influence what science is funded and therefore carried out.

One outcome from her experience is discovering how to structure research proposals so they will be of use in future policy decision making, and how to organize a project for potential maximum impact. “There are often minor ways to change a project to make it more accessible to policymakers,” she says.

Prof. Wagstrom’s experience will undoubtedly benefit her research and contributions to the department. More information on Prof. Wagstrom’s research is available on her website here.