University of Nebraska Medical Center

Joshua Santarpia, PhD

Associate Director of Academic Affairs, GCHS
Chair for the Biodefense and Health Security Graduate Program, UNMC Office of Graduate Studies
Associate Professor, Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, UNMC College of Medicine

Joshua Santarpia


Dr. Joshua L. Santarpia is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology program director for Biodefense and Health Security Degree Program at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Additionally, he is both the Interim Associate Director of Academic Affairs and a Scholar for the Global Center for Health Security. He is also the science and technology advisor for the National Strategic Research Institute at the University of Nebraska. He completed his graduate studies at Texas A&M University and has held past positions at the Edgewood Chemical and Biological Center, the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, and immediately prior to joining UNMC was a distinguished staff member at the Sandia National Laboratories. His work is generally in the field of aerobiology, the study of airborne microorganisms.  He has worked extensively on biological sensors, building and facility sensing networks, and has developed aerosol measurement tools, including those for unmanned aerial vehicles and for biodetection/collection activities for both the U.S. Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security. He has worked extensively to understand optical and other signatures that can be used to detect and identify biological aerosol and study how those signatures change over time. He has developed novel methods to study bioaerosol hazards in medical environments. Most recently, he has applied these methods to characterizing SARS-CoV-2 aerosol in the patient environment and characterizing aerosol risk in public spaces.

Dr. Santarpia is trained in aerosol physics, atmospheric chemistry, and microbiology. His peer-reviewed research focuses largely on the fate biological aerosols in the atmosphere, detection of biological aerosols, and atmospheric chemistry of biological and anthropogenic particles. He has contributed to several books on the characterization and measurement of biological aerosols in the environment. The publications from his work on SARS-CoV-2 aerosol in the clinical environment are in the top 5% of all articles ever tracked in Altmetric and have hundreds of citations. His work on COVID-19 has been featured in television, radio, and print media, including NPR, NBC, The New York Times, The Atlantic Magazine, and National Geographic.


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