Understanding the Urban Environment, Human Behavior & Health

Marguerite speaking at TEDx Dublin. Watch her talk here - 'How Sensors & Data are Transforming Urban Life' 


Dr. Marguerite Nyhan is a Post-Doctoral Researcher at Harvard University. Nyhan is based at the Harvard School of Public Health in the Department of Environmental Health. Prior to her current appointment, Marguerite was a Post-Doctoral Researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She was based at the SENSEable City Laboratory where she led the Urban Environmental Research Team. Nyhan remains a Research Affiliate with this group. Marguerite was a Fulbright Scholar at MIT during her PhD. Nyhan has spoken about her research to audiences globally, and has lectured in the Department of Urban Studies & Planning at MIT. 

Research Interests

With the aim of influencing the design of future cities, Nyhan's research focuses on modeling and predicting interactions between human populations, urban systems, the natural environment and the built environment. Nyhan examines data gathered from various human-driven activities, and applies mathematical models to describe the underlying principles governing these separate systems and their interactions. By leveraging digital information including data from distributed networks of sensors, Nyhan develops compelling new approaches to study interplays between human behaviour, the environment and health. 

Environmental health and sustainability are major considerations in her work. For example, she is developing a state-of-the-art population exposure model which predicts exposure to air pollution and the associated human health risks in the two major metropolitan areas of New York and Boston. For this, the mobility patterns of millions of people are considered using data from various human-driven activities including cellular network data.  

Nyhan’s other work includes predicting emissions from transportation using pervasively measured GPS data and microscopic emissions modeling methods. She has conducted extensive research on the deployment of distributed networks of sensors for environmental assessment and on ICT-enabled platforms for communicating urban information to city citizens and authorities. 

Dr. Nyhan was awarded first prize at the Eye On Earth Summit's Data Innovation Challenge sponsored by the United Nations Environment Program for her project Airscapes Singapore. For this, she initiated and led the development and implementation of network architecture and software system for processing data from distributed networks of environmental sensors in real-time. This includes an interactive web application where data from the network are visualized, along with settings to provide personalized exposure metrics.