(6kh) Nanotechnology and Neurotoxicity: Exposure to Ultrafine (nano) Particles and its Impact on the Human Brain: Case Studies for Cooking and Diesel Engine UFPs

Amouei Torkmahalleh, M., Nazarbayev University
Introduction: I did my B.Sc., M.Sc., and PhD in Chemical Engineering at University of Tehran, Iran, Amirkabir University of Technology, Iran and Clarkson University, USA, respectively. I completed my PhD in 2013 where I worked on aerosol chemistry. After the graduation in 2013, I moved to Middle East Technical University Northern Cyprus Campus as an assistant professor for two years. Then, in 2015 I joined Chemical and Materials Engineering Department at Nazarbayev University in Kazakhstan where I built up my research team entitled “Chemical and Aerosol Research Team (CART) where over 30 UG students and 10 graduate students and research assistants are dynamically involved in research. I have published more than 30 papers with H-index approximately 11 in Scopus. In last two years, I published more than 15 papers in prestigious journals including Q1 ranking (in average 8 papers per year). So far, I could obtain more than 150K USD grant reviewed by ORAU. I have made collaborations with several American Universities including Johns Hopkins University, Rochester University, University of Albany, University of Wisconsin Madison as well as some European and Middle East Universities including University of Cassino and Southern Lazio, Italy, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), NL and Abban Izzet Baysal University, Turkey. The details of my achievements are found in my CV. I have permanent residency in the USA (US green card) and I am currently looking for a tenure track Assistant/ Associate professor Position.

Research Interests:

The cooking in residential or commercial kitchens and diesel engine emissions in highway and city traffic zones are the major producers of the UFPs (nanoparticles), indoors and outdoor, respectively. While our understanding is relatively complete about UFP emissions from cooking and traffic engines, the underlying mechanisms for the health impact of indoor/outdoor UFPs have remained unknown. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 3 billion people cook using polluting open fires or simple stoves fueled by kerosene, biomass (wood, animal dung, and crop waste) and coal. Each year, close to 4 million people die prematurely from illness attributable to household air pollution from inefficient cooking practices using polluting stoves paired with solid fuels and kerosene. Some epidemiological studies revealed associations between exposure to cooking fumes and diesel engine exhaust, and lung cancer, and several clinical exposure studies are available in the literature that investigated the effect of acute exposure to cooking and traffic fumes on human health. Several animal studies conducted in the literature addressed the translocation of different types of nanoparticles to the extra-pulmonary organs such as cardiovascular and nervous systems, but yet discrepancies exist in the literature with respect to animal studies. My next five years research goal is to study the impact of UFPs from different sources particularly cooking and traffic on human brain through clinical, animal and in-vitro studies to better understand the underlying mechanisms for the translocation of the nanoparticles to human brain and the potential neurodegenerative diseases. The brain activities during and after exposure to UFPs are compared with what has been observed for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer and Parkinson. My recent and preliminary studies showed that cooking using electric stove changes the human brain activity but not similar to neurodegenerative dieses. However, such changes are similar to neurodegenerative disease when people are exposed to gas stove emissions (Amoue Torkmahalleh et al., NeuroToxicology 2019. 74:149-161). This work has already got attentions from American Researchers and I am looking to build up a team including neuroscientists, neurologists, cardiologists, toxicologists and exposure scientists to apply for NIH funding. The details of my research plan will be presented during AIChE 2019 Meet the Faculty Candidate session.

Teaching Interest:

One of my key plans for the next three to five years is to prepare an excellent set of course materials for those topics that I do research. Such courses were developed and taught at Nazarbayev University including Human Exposure Analysis, and Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. Given my extensive experiences on process simulation using Aspen Plus, I can teach process level courses such as Process Design and Simulation, Advanced Process simulation and Capstone Design. I can also teach fundamental chemical engineering courses including mass transfer and fluid mechanics individually or in the form of Transport Phenomena. I want to implement different innovative teaching and learning methods such as video demonstrations and field/ industrial visits to better deliver the course. The key part of my teaching is integration of research and teaching. It has been well practice at Nazarbayev University.

Service Experiences: I have served as several committees at the department and school levels including department an school Research Committee, Faculty Senate, Faculty hiring committee, Department Seminar committee, Academic Advisory, etc