Linsey Marr has been selected for a Distinguished Scientist Award by the Southeastern Universities Research Association (SURA) for her transdisciplinary research on aerosol transmission. 

Marr, University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech, was recognized by SURA’s 56 member institutions for exemplifying its mission “to advance collaborative research and strengthen the scientific capabilities of its members and the nation.” The association, established in 1980, aims to enhance its member universities' capabilities of undertaking significant, transformative scientific research projects. 

“I’m very honored to receive this award, especially because it recognizes collaborative research, which I really enjoy,” said Marr. “I’m fortunate to have worked with many outstanding students and collaborators at Virginia Tech and other institutions. Together, we’re able to tackle complex problems that require expertise from multiple disciplines.”

Throughout her career, Marr has collaborated with hundreds of researchers to study the health and environmental impacts of pollutants in the air.

Marr, also the Charles P. Lunsford Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, has helped advance society’s understanding of the airborne transmission of viruses, and her research played a critical role in slowing the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Central to Marr’s research is the concept that viruses can be transported in aerosol particles, similar to how cigarette smoke moves around a room. These findings promoted the practice of wearing masks in indoor spaces and showed that improving indoor air circulation and exchange could slow the virus from spreading between individuals.

Prior to the pandemic, Marr’s papers and proposals consistently faced rejection because they did not fall neatly into a single discipline. It seemed that nobody appreciated the importance of the topic.

Since the pandemic began, she has authored over 30 scientific papers. In collaboration with an international team of scholars, Marr helped lead a paradigm shift in the understanding of respiratory virus transmission.

Because of her specialized knowledge and ability to communicate clearly with the public, Marr has been interviewed over 500 times by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Scientific American, National Public Radio, CNN, all the major networks, and other media outlets.

She also has received the 2022 Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia and was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2023. 

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