Matt Bozigar is an environmental epidemiologist with a multidisciplinary background. He studies multiple adverse environmental exposures (e.g., noise, air pollution, aeroallergens, radon) and health outcomes (e.g., asthma, cancer, cardiometabolic risk factors and diseases). Matt views environmental epidemiology through a geographical lens that emphasizes “place” and how it affects the health of populations.

Dr. Bozigar is the Center's Named New Investigator for 2024-2025, and Assistant Professor in the School of Nutrition and Public Health. Center Director Jamie DeWitt sat down with Matt to get his perspective on life, Oregon State University, and environmental health.

Q&A with Matt Bozigar

You’ve criss-crossed the continent a couple of times. What brought you back to the west coast after spending a good chunk of time on the east coast and what specifically about OSU appealed to you?
I was born and raised in the northwest and identify as a northwesterner. I wanted to get back to family, friends, and a lifestyle I was used to. I missed a lot about the northwest while I was on the east coast. I appreciate being close to family and friends and love hiking, skiing, biking, and being close to the coast and to the mountains and engaged in the outdoor lifestyle.

OSU is a great fit due to its culture…the northwest culture permeates OSU. The strength of the public health program was a huge appeal. The public health program also has a strong focus on the environment, which was something I was looking for. My epidemiology work is very environmentally focused, so there are many natural collaborations here at OSU. I also have a nice balance of teaching and research and get to give back to communities that I grew up caring about and was part of in Oregon, the Willamette Valley, and other areas of the northwest.

Could you give us a brief overview of your research vision?
I am an environmental epidemiologist who uses spatial methods to think about the impact of place on health and I’m specifically interested in the health effects of certain environmental exposures, including radon, aeroallergens and other airborne pollutants indoors and outdoors, and transportation noise.

What is the most important environmental health issue facing society today?
If we think about media that we live in and move through, like air and water, we still face many challenges. Climate-driven changes to air quality are not going anywhere or are getting worse. The indoor environment is a neglected area of study that contributes to environmental health concerns. Indoor air quality and its health effects are mediated by building practices and the built environment – luckily, awareness of the indoor environment is growing, such as the negatives of burning of fossil fuels, such as gas stoves, in the home. Ultrafine particles can get anywhere in the body, and their health effects have been underappreciated. Radon, a known carcinogen, and radioactivity of particulate matter are often neglected, in part due to the lack of technology to measure these agents and linking them with health outcomes. Noise is also neglected as an environmental stressor. And of course there’s water and issues with water quality…the list is still quite long, but there has also been notable progress.

Tell us something about yourself that we wouldn’t find out from Googling your name.
I used to have a photography web site, that is now defunct, displaying travel photography. So until somewhat recently, you could have found this out be Googling my name! I have been fortunate to travel to many different places in the world and I think I’ve learned more from traveling the world than from a formal education. I’ve been to Europe, Africa, South America, and Asia, have ridden the trans-Siberian railroad, and have had the opportunity to wander and experience people, places, and things in all of these different continents. Southeast Asia is a love (Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand), as are the Hindu cultures of Tibet and Nepal in the high mountains of the Himalayas.

Any final thoughts for us?
I’m still learning about OSU and Corvallis as I’ve only been here for a year and a half, but I’m excited about the collaborations that I’ve started and the collaborations that will develop and grow the longer I’m here.

You can find out more about Dr. Bozigar on his OSU College of Health profile page.