Chemistry of Indoor Environments

Program Goal

To grow a new field of scientific inquiry focused on understanding the fundamental chemistry taking place in indoor environments and how that chemistry is shaped by building attributes and human occupancy.


The program makes grants to achieve a series of interrelated goals.

  • Generate new knowledge by directly supporting original, high-quality research to identify indoor chemical sources, characterize the chemical and physical transformations taking place indoors, and determine how indoor chemistry is shaped by building attributes and occupancy.
  • Develop a modeling consortium to improve the cohesiveness of the community and its ability to integrate findings.
  • Build a thriving, multidisciplinary research community of chemists; environmental, civil, and mechanical engineers; architects; atmospheric scientists; microbiologists; and environmental health experts that will endure beyond the program’s timeline.
  • Train the next generation of scholars and practitioners. An important component of this program is introducing new voices into the field and training the next generation of researchers.
  • Develop community-wide research protocols, and norms.
  • Advance capacity for discovery through development of new tools for data collection, sampling, analysis, and visualization.


Interested scholars should submit a letter of inquiry of no more than two pages to program director Paula J. Olsiewski. Successful research proposals should focus on some aspect of the following broad inquiry areas.

  • Environment and Occupancy: How does the built environment and its human and microbial inhabitants affect indoor chemistry?  How does indoor chemistry affect the built environment and its inhabitants?
  • Sources: What are the primary sources of reactive compounds indoors?  What role does outdoor air play in affecting the abundance and distribution of chemicals in indoor air?
  • Chemical and Physical Transformations:  What is the nature of indoor gas, aerosol, and surface chemistry?  What indoor processes drive transitions between gas, aerosol, and surface chemistries?
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