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Tackling indoor air pollution

The mud hut rises on the slope of a hill at the Mountaintop campus — a 6-by-8-foot replica of a cooking hut typically found in developing countries such as Uganda. In searing heat, over the course of several June days, a group of students painstakingly built the hut. It is at the center of their search for ways to ventilate cooking huts naturally and to reduce the indoor air pollution that plagues much of the rural developing world.

"We are trying our best to make it as close to a cooking hut that would be created in developing nations, more specifically, in Uganda," says graduate student and social scientist Marie Theresa Mejia, one of six students on the "Innovation in Ventilation" team. "We're also finding ways to replicate it that would allow us to work in the time frame that we have."

In addition to Mejia, the students involved in the project include Amber E. Schrum '16 and Shane McDevitt '15, both pursuing Lehigh's Integrated Degree in Engineering, Arts and Sciences (IDEAS); Dylan M. Friedgen-Veitch '16, environmental engineering; and graduate students Illch Yiliqi (environmental policy design) and Kellyn M. McCarthy (sociology). The combined engineering and social science research project, under way this summer as part of Lehigh’s innovative Mountaintop Initiative, explores practical solutions to indoor air pollution and the underlying social issues.

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