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Research Fellowships

Performance Evaluation of Low-Cost Air Quality Sensors

EPA Office of Research and Development

EPA National Science Foundation Graduate Research Internship Program (GRIP) & Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) Opportunities

Opportunity Title:

Performance Evaluation of Low-Cost Air Quality Sensors

Research Area:


EPA Lab/Center/Office:

National Exposure Research Laboratory (NERL)


Durham, NC


6 - 12 months

Brief Summary:

The objective of this opportunity is to evaluate the performance of a low-cost sensor for ambient air quality measurement.

Opportunity Description:

Portable, low-cost air quality sensors are of great interest to both professional researchers and citizen scientists looking to make measurements in small scale environments like communities and neighborhoods. Such environments may be influenced by local emission sources and may or may not be well captured by regional air quality reference monitors. Citizen scientists of all ages desire sensors that are fast, affordable, easy to use, and that produce data that is easy to interpret.  Paramount to these desires, however, is the need for the data to be accurate. EPA researchers wish to use their expertise to evaluate the accuracy and use of low-cost sensors to assist others interested in using the sensors and in interpreting their data as part of air monitoring projects nationwide.

Most commercially available sensors are calibrated in a laboratory and have had limited validation and testing in real-world environments or comparison with federal reference methods. This opportunity would involve assessing the accuracy of sensors operated in the ambient environment near a regulation grade monitor. Based on initial findings, the researcher will collect additional data to characterize relationships between instrument response and other environmental factors including other pollutants, temperature, relative humidity, etc. The researcher will also evaluate sensors based on reliability, ease of use, best practices, etc. and will develop guidance documents and reports to inform researchers and communities wishing to use the sensor in the future.

Opportunities for Professional Development:

The researcher will:

*Gain valuable insight into the current state of commercially available sensors *Develop awareness of the advantages and limitations of current sensing technologies *Learn about ongoing research and citizen science projects supported by such work *Hone skills for conducting independent research *Interact with EPA researchers regarding science and professional career paths *Learn about new sensor technologies and current field testing results from colleagues and collaborators *Contribute to ongoing citizen science collaboration projects *Present current graduate research *Publish project results through presentations and a peer-reviewed journal article *Work on the most cutting-edge research in air sensor technology *Gain first-hand experience in the use of a new, novel, low-cost air quality sensor and provide essential insight into collecting robust data to support future community based air monitoring.

Relevant NSF GRIP Fields of Study (FoS): Atmospheric Chemistry Analysis, Machine Learning, Chemistry, Statistics, Environmental Engineering, Formal Methods, Verification, and Programming Languages

Point of Contact or Mentor:

Andrea Clements (

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