"The fact that I managed to organise a group of top scientists within three days, this shows that my network was in existence. Therefore, when I said ‘well, it’s time to do something’, they all supported me. Because they knew my work, they knew my role and they trusted that what I’m doing makes sense, is important and it’s needed by the world."
Distinguished Professor at the Queensland University of Technology
Lidia Morawska is a physicist and Distinguished Professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and has been named one of 2021 Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People from across the world.
From the age of seven, Lidia dreamed of becoming a nuclear physicist and working in a nuclear power plant. She wanted to understand how things functioned at the most fundamental level and to make a difference in the world no matter how small.
She grew up in Przemyśl, Poland to parents Helena and Henryk Jaskuła—the first Pole to do a solo sail, non-stop around the globe. She completed her studies in Poland before moving to Canada to further her academic career and then onto Australia to take up a senior lecturer position at QUT in Brisbane. Her specialisation has been in ambient ultrafine particles – a strong contributor to air pollution, which led Lidia to an important advisory role with the World Health Organization (WHO).
She has worked on a diverse range of ground-breaking studies across radiation, environmental and atmospheric physics and is recognised as one of the world’s most notable authorities on airborne particulate matter. Her focused on the world’s transition to clean energy; studying indoor air and human exposure; and promoting a paradigm shift to making clean, healthy, indoor air has resulted in her authoring over 950 journal papers, book chapters and conference papers.
The urgency of Lidia’s work became increasingly apparent during the 2019 Black Summer bushfires as intoxicating smoke entered the homes and workplaces of millions of Australians. Then quickly after that in 2020 as COVID-19 dominated our lives.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Lidia became aware that the WHO was not addressing the airborne nature of the disease. Her expertise gained during the 2003 SARS-1 epidemic had prepared her for such a moment, so she took steps to bring together 239 diverse researchers from 34 countries to directly lobby the WHO leading to them acknowledging the evidence of the airborne spread of SARS-CoV-2 and updating their guidance on the disease’s transmission and how to best combat it.
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