Center-Affiliated Research Projects


Filippelli's research group focuses on environmental exposure to human toxicants. A number of human-related compounds are present at high levels in cities, including the neurotoxins lead and mercury. Each have their own unique sources, legacies on the landscape, and exposure pathways to humans. Fillippell's group uses earth science monitoring tools coupled with advanced laboratory geochemical techniques and epidemiological to assess the courses, pathways, and main exposure mechanisms to humans. Ultimately, the goal of this research is to identify the most important components of these exposure pathways and reduce or eliminate them.

Left panels—Lower shows the spatial distribution of soil lead (colored fields) in Marion County, along with the incidences of blood lead poisoning (blue dots), revealing the spatial correlation between soil lead and lead poisoning (Filippelli et al., 2005). Upper shows seasonal variations in blood lead levels measured for Indianapolis children (circles) versus the seasonal trend predicted using a model of soil dust exposure—revealing that soil lead is being redistributed during dry months, and annually re-exposing children, and thus providing a mechanism to explain the spatial correlation in the lower panel (Laidlaw et al., 2005). Right panel shows the distribution of soil mercury values in central Indiana (warm colors=higher values), revealing local point sources for mercury emissions from large coal-burning power plants; this analysis was coupled with river mercury values to predict exposure risks to anglers in central Indiana (Hatcher and Filippelli, in press, Water, Air & Soil Pollution)


Using NASA Data and Models to Improve Heat Watch Warning for Decision Support
The purpose of this project is to develop vulnerability models for a number of U.S. cities to be utilized during episodes of extreme heat. The developed models include satellite-based measurements using a multi-sensor fusion technique and combining this information with socio-economic measurements from the U.S. Census Bureau. This information will be utilized by emergency planners to develop mitigation strategies and to direct resources during active heat waves.


Impact of Demographic Characteristics on Attitudes about Clean Air Policies
The purpose of this project is to evaluate the impact of demographic characteristics (age, gender, urban/rural residence) on individuals' support for second hand smoke workplace policies. We are utilizing survey data previously collected by the Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Agency (ITPC) using the Adult Tobacco Survey.

Determining Factors that Influence Graduates' Decision to Practice in an Urban or Rural Area
This study will use the results of the Graduate Exit Survey administered to individuals completing IU School of Medicine residency and fellowship programs. The primary purpose of the study is to better understand the role of demographic characteristics and other factors on graduates' decision on where they plan to practice medicine.


Pearl Grlz: Space-time analysis of adolescent health-risk behavior (NICHD/NIAID K23HD057130-01A2 and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Physician Faculty Scholars Program; PI: Wiehe)
The Pearl Grlz study aims to examine the dynamic context, or the changing physical and social environments, as it relates to health-risk behaviors of adolescent young women by (a) employing global position satellite (GPS)-enabled cell phones to continuously track their movements for four one-week periods over the course of a year, and (b) using qualitative techniques to identify important contextual constructs to health-risk behaviors. Learning more about environmental correlates of adolescent health-risk may aid in developing individually-tailored interventions using mobile devices and inform policy-relevant interventions to promote health among young women. The next phase of this work will be to recruit and follow girls longitudinally over an 18-month period to understand more specifically the space-time relationship between where an adolescent chooses to spend time and her behaviors and how this relationship might evolve over time.

Disparities in sexually transmitted infections among young women: Role of individual- and community-level exposures to incarceration and crime (NIAID/NICHD R21AI084060-01; PI: Wiehe)
Using incarceration and clinical data linked at the individual level over a ten-year period, we will investigate the association between incarceration, crime, and risk of STI. Specifically, we will address how and why differences exist by age, area of exposure, and incarceration agency, and over time. Most importantly, we will evaluate how differences in exposure to individual and community incarceration and crime may contribute to STI disparities by race.