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"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."


LIDIA MORAWSKA

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. 


  • Long-standing collaborator and advisor to the WHO and has contributed to all WHO air quality-related guidelines since 1990 including co-chairing the Guideline Development Group (2006-2021) responsible for numerous standards published in the World Health Organization Global Air Quality Guidelines (updated 2021)

  • Director of the International Laboratory for Air Quality and Health (ILAQH) at QUT, a World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre on Air Quality and Health

  • Distinguished Professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT)

  • Co-Director in Australia for the Australia-China Centre for Air Quality Science and Management (ACC-AQSM)

  • Adjunct Professor at the Institute for Environmental and Climate Research (ECI), at the Jinan University, Guangzhou, China

  • Vice-Chancellor Fellow, Global Centre for Clean Air Research (GCARE), University of Surrey, UK

  • Associate Editor of Science of the Total Environment journal since 2010

  • Established the Environmental Aerosol Laboratory at QUT

  • Senior Lecturer (1991) and later Professor (2003) at QUT

  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow of the International Atomic Energy Agency at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada and later at the University of Toronto (1987-1991)

  • Research fellow at the Institute of Physics and Nuclear Techniques, Academy of Mining and Metallurgy (1982 – 1987)

  • Received her doctorate from Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland (1982) for research on radon and its progeny


    • Awarded Time Magazine’s The 100 Most Influential People of 2021 (innovators section) in recognition of her research and awareness raising of the aerosol spread of SARS-CoV-2 (2021)

    • Elected in a Fellow to the Australian Academy of Science (2020)

    • Named as one of Australia’s top 40 researchers in The Australian Research Magazine – measured by their performance over their career (2020)

    • Ranked in Good Weekend’s 40 Australians Who Mattered: Health and Science (Sydney Morning Herald) – recognising Australia’s blue-chip handling of this ongoing pandemic (2020)

    • Awarded International Society of Indoor Air Quality and Climate’s (ISIAQS) rarely given Special 2020 Award for her persistence and leadership in corralling 239 scientists to collectively guide the WHO and the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in the USA (CDC) toward changing their position and recognising that the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 was airborne and raising the importance of increased and adequate ventilation in indoor spaces

    • Eureka Prize for Infectious Diseases Research (2018)

    • American Association for Aerosol Research, David Sinclair Award (2017)

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