Dr. Vera Samburova was awarded the Peter B. Wagner Medal of Excellence for DRI Scholars in the Early Stages of Career Development Award at DRI’s convocation ceremony this past Thursday, June 2nd. This award recognizes scholars who meet standards of excellence in research creativity, productivity, and contributions to science.
Recipients of this award must demonstrate a deep commitment to the Institute through participation in internal activities and programs, as well as exhibit leadership in the broader scientific community.
Sue Wagner, a long-time friend and supporter of our institution established this award in memory of her husband Peter, who tragically perished with three of his DRI colleagues in a plane crash in the Sierra Nevada Mountains while conducting research in 1980. Sue served our state as a State Senator, Lieutenant Governor and a member of the Nevada Gaming Commission alongside current Governor Brian Sandoval.
Dr. Vera Samburova has been chosen to receive the Wagner Medal of Excellence for her innovative research into biomass burning and recently working to understanding the effects of e-cigarettes on human health. This award also comes with a $1,500 stipend.
Vera is an early stage investigator and assistant research professor in DRI’s Organic Analytical Laboratory – or OAL. Her research is primarily focused on the speciation, characterization, and quantitative analysis of organic species in the atmosphere and indoor air. As a primary investigator of the on-going NSF project she is leading an interdisciplinary team of researchers and students that are investigating the contribution of light absorption organic compounds (or Brown Carbon species) to absorption properties of biomass-burning emissions.
She was also the PI of an internally funded OAL team project which investigated the growing e-cigarette industry and the unidentified effects of vaping on human health. The OAL team’s research was published in Environmental Science & Technology, a journal of the American Chemical Society, finding that the aerosols produced by flavored e-cigarettes liquids contain dangerous levels of hazardous chemicals known to cause cancer in humans. The study “Flavoring compounds dominate toxic aldehyde production during e-cigarette vaping” confirmed that these toxic aldehydes, such as formaldehyde, are formed not by evaporation, but rather during the chemical breakdown of the flavored e-liquid caused by the rapid heating process that occurs inside e-cigarettes or electronic nicotine delivery systems. Vera and her team tested the most common types of e-cigarettes during their first study, and have now turned their attention to the second-hand smoke from e-cigarettes and the effects on non-smokers.
OAL is proud of Vera’s accomplishments and she is a very important contributor to the OAL lab. Vera very much deserved to receive this award and we look forward to her continued excellence in the future.