Blog Global Health Center

Scientist in the Spotlight: Randall Martin’s career path in global health

Written by Kaelan Smyser, undergraduate student and chair of the Global Health Center Student Advisory Committee at the Institute for Public Health

Randall Martin

The Washington University in St. Louis community is filled with inquisitive and talented professors who encourage student understanding of their area of expertise. The Global Health Student Advisory Committee recently interviewed Randall Martin PhD, the Raymond R. Tucker Distinguished Professor in the Energy, Environmental and Chemical Engineering Department of the McKelvey School of Engineering. His research focuses on using global atmospheric modeling to inform effective policies surrounding major environmental and public health challenges such as air quality and climate change. His career path began at Cornell University, where he received an undergraduate degree in engineering. This technical framework allowed him to study environmental change and management while receiving his MSc at Oxford. Ultimately, his passion for air quality was fostered during his PhD at Harvard, subsequently he has been researching the intersection of air quality and health for the past 15 years. Currently, Professor Martin teaches an Air Quality Engineering class for undergraduates here at WashU, which allows students to delve into the intersection of atmospheric chemistry and global health.

When asked why he chose this career path, Martin stated that he, “always enjoyed the inquisitiveness of university environments with numerous opportunities to learn, to be challenged, and to share what I’ve learned.” This appreciation for curiosity is demonstrated in his classroom instruction and the robust nature of his research. He leads SPARTAN, a global fine particulate matter network which evaluates and enhances satellite-based estimates of fine particulate matter. Data from his lab is used by the World Health Organization to estimate global mortality due to fine particulate matter. Professor Martin’s career path has included multiple research universities, such as WashU, which provide the unique opportunity to ask big questions and diligently search for the answers.

Martin’s advice for students interested in global health is this, “Dream big. Identify needs. Work hard. Support others. You can make a difference. The world needs more people with a passion for global health and the education that WashU offers to address the many challenges of global health.” He encourages each of us to strive towards a healthier tomorrow, whether your interests lie in air quality or another branch of global health, each of us can make a difference and help those in need.