Richard Corsi Austin, TX
Most American's today spend the majority of their time indoors but most researchers focus on the air quality of the outdoors. Not Dr. Richard Corsi, who is leading the way for research on the chemistry of indoor air quality and environments. As a professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Texas, Austin, he's also at work training the next generation to tackle these complex issues.
"The indoor environment is not the safe, clean sanctuary we thought it was," Richard says, "In fact, the exposure of Americans to toxic substances is dominated by what we breathe and touch while we are indoors. Ironically, our focus has been on protecting the public from toxins that exist outdoors."
The 2006 HSU Distinguished Alum is now directing a $2.9 million multidisciplinary graduate program funded by the National Science Foundation designed to train students from a variety of academic backgrounds in the new field of indoor air quality.
"We really do very little in our country to improve the quality of indoor environments in non-industrial settings. We have ceded leadership of this important issue to other countries. To change that, we need more engineers, scientists, and social scientists engaged in improving knowledge related to indoor environmental quality, solving related problems and educating the public the dos and don'ts in their own homes."
Beyond indoor environmental issues Richard has also established internationally-recognized research programs on emissions of toxins from wastewater and served as a principle investigator on dozens of projects. In 2001 Richard participated in a $1.4 million study involving building disinfection chemistry in response to the anthrax attacks. Richard and his student's work has been featured on Canadian television series The Nature of Things, The Economist, Business Week, National Wildlife, Prevention, Men's Health, The San Francisco Chronicle and more.
Dr. Corsi and his wife of many years, Regina Benzonelli (83'), are avid dog lovers. The couple has served as volunteer trainers at a local animal shelter and was overjoyed when, upon returning to HSU to accept Richard's Distinguished Alum award, they could watch their own pound puppy splash in the ocean at Mad River Beach.