Announcing the 2024 Anthony Janetos Climate Action Prize Winners

Award goes to BU College of Engineering students creating portable air pollution monitors

This year’s Anthony Janetos Climate Action Prize goes to a team of Boston University (BU) College of Engineering students for their work pioneering portable air pollution monitors with the support of Campus Climate Lab (CCL) funding. The group is now in talks with the municipal owners of Bluebikes about a pilot program to gather air quality data from bike trips around Boston.

The Anthony Janetos Climate Action Prize is awarded annually to students conducting work with significant potential impact on BU’s Climate Action Plan. The 2024 prize was awarded during the April 10 CCL Symposium to the following students:

  • Lorenzo Barale (Mechanical Engineering, ENG, B.S. May 2025)
  • Luisa DiLorenzo (Mechanical Engineering, ENG, B.S. May 2024)
  • Sofiya Filippova (Mechanical Engineering, ENG, B.S. May 2024)
  • Maya Lobel (Mechanical Engineering, ENG, B.S. May 2024)
  • Leon Long (Electrical and Computer Engineering, ENG, B.S. May 2024)
  • Benjamin Pedi (Mechanical Engineering, ENG, B.S. May 2025)
  • Kai Raina Tung (Mechanical Engineering, ENG, B.S. May 2024)

The Climate Action Prize review committee also applauds the leadership of faculty mentor Emily Ryan (Associate Director, BU Institute for Global Sustainability (IGS), and Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering, ENG).

Back row (left to right): Leon Long, Kai Raina Tung, Sofiya Filippova, Manpreet Kaur Singh (Program Coordinator, Campus Climate Lab), Benjamin Pedi, Lorenzo Barale, Luisa DiLorenzo. Front row (left to right): Emily Ryan (Associate Director, IGS, and Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science & Engineering), Rebecca Pearl-Martinez (Executive Director, IGS, and Campus Climate Lab Director), Dennis Carlberg (Associate Vice President, University Sustainability)
Good things come in small packages

To make their idea suitable for bikes, the team created a compact monitoring device. Their prototype is no bigger than a brick and collects granular data on particulate matter, methane, nitric oxide, and carbon dioxide – key indicators of air pollution. The device has demonstrated similar accuracy to Environmental Protection Agency sensor stations, the gold standard.

Air pollution is a public health issue strongly tied to equity and justice issues in Boston and other major cities.

“Our project wants to contribute to the growing literature that is asking the question: ‘how do the effects of air pollution vary between neighborhoods of differing socioeconomic statuses?,’” said Sofiya Filippova, while presenting the research at the Symposium. She noted that while the few data collection sites currently in the Boston area can provide some indication of high-level pollution trends, there remains a lack of neighborhood-level data.

Developing a sensor pack that is able to collect data around Boston, potentially via Bluebikes, which are frequently used by the public to travel all over the city and surrounding communities, can help inform policy around topics including transportation, green space, and public housing.

Campus Climate Lab

This project received funding through CCL, which offers student-mentor teams the opportunity to share their best ideas for research projects to make Boston University more sustainable. Students who participate in CCL and successfully complete the requirements are eligible for the Climate Action Prize.

At this year’s CCL Symposium, 11 teams presented their research on various topics to make the campus more sustainable, from filtering out microplastics in laundry to increasing equitable access to green space. This research included individuals studying a wide variety of topics across BU, from film and television to biology and supply chain management. CCL is led by IGS, in collaboration with BU Sustainability and the Office of Research. Since its launch in 2020, CCL has allocated $330,000 to 42 projects involving 199 faculty, students, and staff.

The following teams presented at the CCL Symposium. Learn more about each of the presented projects.

  • Growing community on campus (Wheelock, CAS)
  • BU wind data analysis and curriculum development (ENG)
  • Indexing BU’s green space utilization for equitable distribution (CAS)
  • Student-generated solution for environmental justice at Boston University (CAS, Pardee, COM)
  • Decision support for climate mitigation decision making (MET)
  • Measuring water consumption and mitigation efforts (Pardee)
  • CFA color garden (CFA)
  • Quantifying microplastic emissions and investigating filtration methods (CAS, ENG)
  • Bicycle-mounted air pollution monitors (ENG)
  • mand/grid implications of all electric buildings for heating system and potential solution of thermal/electric storage (ENG)
  • BU indoor air quality sensor and portal (ENG)