Ana María Rule, PhD
My main research goal is the development and evaluation of novel sampling and analysis strategies for the assessment of exposure to biological aerosols, e-cigarette aerosols, and particulate matter. I have worked toward this goal both doing field research as well as laboratory-based controlled studies. The field work has provided tools for understanding the impact of agribusiness in the environment and health of the population, especially how the public is exposed to biological aerosols. These biological agents, in turn, can be vectors of antibiotic resistance, which is emerging as a public health concern to the public in general, but particularly to healthcare and food industry workers, as well as communities living in agricultural settings. My work with electronic cigarettes has established that these devices are important sources of metal exposure. Working closely with epidemiologists, microbiologists and aerosol physicists, we have developed a partnership for the application of air sampling strategies to the detection of aerosols through novel analysis techniques. However, field research requires the support of well controlled laboratory studies in order to characterize new and existing methods, and to develop novel techniques and applications for such methods that can later in turn be applied in field studies. My laboratory work has provided insights into bacterial aerosol viability and the application of analysis techniques traditionally used for water samples. I am currently interested in understanding the scale of exposure to electronic cigarette aerosol, as well as applying air sampling techniques to recognize the scale and evaluate the complexity involved in the assessment of exposure to viruses in agricultural as well as Nosocomial environments.
A second objective of my work is the development of new instrumentation and strategies for the collection of bulk particulate matter that can be used in analytical and toxicological studies. This work involves the study of aerosol particles in close collaboration with chemists and aerosol physicists to advance the development of strategies for improved particle sampling and detailed laboratory characterization.