The newest researcher in the Center for Advancing Research in Transportation Emissions, Energy and Health (CARTEEH) of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) is determined to make environmental health a prominent and permanent fixture of the Institute’s research initiatives going forward. And she’s off to a good start.
Assistant Research Scientist Haneen Khreis began her TTI career in September 2017, a perfect fit for the newly awarded CARTEEH. TTI leads the five-member university consortium, which focuses on the impact of transportation emissions on public health.
“When CARTEEH was awarded, I knew immediately that Haneen would be a great hire for the center,” says Joe Zietsman, CARTEEH director and TTI assistant agency director and strategic advisor.
Zietsman first met Khreis at a transportation and health conference in London while she was a Ph.D. student in England, and was instantly impressed by her knowledge and her determined personality. They spoke again at another conference in San Jose, California.
“Haneen accepted my job offer and is now playing a key role in CARTEEH, including leading a research project that looks at childhood asthma as it relates to air pollution, developing a bibliography on health and transportation, and leading the development of a curriculum on transportation emissions exposure and health,” Zietsman explains.
Born in Amman, Jordan, to an American-born father, Khreis originally thought she wanted to go into the medical field, though she was also very interested in engineering. When she realized she could combine the two (health and transportation), she found her niche, studying the relationship between health and multiple traffic-related exposures. She obtained her degrees from the University of Leeds.
In Europe, the relationship between transportation and health has become a major topic of research. In fact, the results of a project she led at the University of Leeds received significant attention from the media and local policymakers in the United Kingdom in March. The research determined that 38 percent of childhood asthma cases in the city of Bradford in West Yorkshire, England, could be attributed to air pollution, with 24 percent of the cases attributable to air pollution from road vehicles. (See article here.)
“We certainly have a public health crisis as it relates to health and traffic-related air pollution, especially in large urban areas — not only in the UK, but the results of the study are applicable here to the United States as well,” Khreis says. “The good news about that, though, is that these asthma cases can be prevented. We can and should do something about it.”
Zietsman and CARTEEH certainly came along at the right time for Khreis, who had already determined her career path. Now, she will pursue it in the United States, which is observing National Public Health Week.