PhD Environmental Health and Risk Management student Seny Damayanti has dedicated their research to improving the health and wellbeing of communities around the globe. With the supervision of experts in the field of environment and human health, Seny has revealed groundbreaking results in their latest work, ‘Nanoparticles in the Urban Atmosphere’. 

Since my undergraduate degree, I have been interested in air quality management topics. Air pollution is a major environmental problem that is damaging to human health worldwide, including in my country, Indonesia. It also leads to respiratory illness, reduced life expectancy, and visibility. Besides, ambient (outdoor) air pollution is associated with around 4.2 million premature deaths per year in 2019 alone (WHO). These issues have motivated me to pursue a PhD, seeking in-depth knowledge about air pollution. I chose the University of Birmingham because it stands out among the few universities focusing on air quality. 

I’m grateful to have the privilege to be supervised by Professor Roy M Harrison (listed by Web of Science as a Highly Cited Researcher) and Professor Francis Pope as experts in this field. 

My research focuses on ultrafine particles (UFPs). These are tiny particles with diameters less than 100 nanometres in the atmosphere and are considered to have more adverse effects on pulmonary inflammation. To ease how tiny this particle is, it has a diameter of 500-700 times smaller than the diameter of human hair. However, as an unregulated pollutant, more research on UFP still needs to be conducted to better understand the sources and processes affecting this pollutant in the atmosphere. 

A part of my research with my supervisors has recently been published (Damayanti et al., 2023). My research used a long-term dataset (2010-2021) of UFP in a monitoring site in London. This study revealed that the widely used filters fitted to vehicle exhaust can remove larger solid particle emissions, although they are less effective at removing smaller liquid particles. This study also indicates the need for a much higher uptake of electric vehicles with less particle emission than diesel vehicles.  

After I finish my PhD, I will return to my home country to dedicate myself as a lecturer and a researcher in the Department of Environmental Engineering, Institute of Technology Bandung (ITB), Indonesia. With the knowledge, networking and research experience I have gained during my PhD, I will contribute to improving air quality, particularly in Indonesia and generally around the world.  

Being an international student at the University of Birmingham, I have had the opportunity to meet other students from many different countries, participate in several conferences, gain scientific training related to my field, and receive research skill workshops from the Library Service. Birmingham is also a comfortable place to live for students and those who bring their families during their studies.  

Thank you, UoB, and thank you, Birmingham. 

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