San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

March 16th, 2011
Texas State’s GIS program gets EPA grant


The Texas Center for Geographic Information Science in the Department of Geography at Texas State has been awarded a research grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Science to Achieve Results (USEPA-STAR) program.

The grant, totaling nearly $500,000, will support the “Air Pollution-Exposure-Health Effects Indicators: Mining Massive Geographically Referenced Environmental Health Data to Identify Risk Factors for Birth Defects” project.

The three-year project will develop air pollution exposure assessment methods, visual geospatial data mining tools, and epidemiological analysis procedures to define new air pollution-exposure-health effect indicators that cover three components of the hazards-exposure-health effects-intervention paradigm. The researchers will use data about air pollutants emitted from industrial facilities and birth defects in Texas to develop and evaluate the new indicators.

The director of the center, F. Benjamin Zhan, is the principal investigator of the project. Other co-investigators on the project are Jean D. Brender, associate dean for research at the Texas A&M Health Science Center, Peter H. Langlois, senior epidemiologist at the Birth Defects Epidemiology and Surveillance Branch of the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), and Jing Yang, assistant professor of computer science at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

For more information about the project, please contact Benjamin Zhan at

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