Employee Spotlight: Chelsey Fattal Sooriyarachchi

Meet ORAU Employee Chelsey Fattal Sooriyarachchi. Chelsey is an ORAU contractor working within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Air and Energy Management Division (AEMD) at the National Risk Management Research Laboratory (NRMRL). As an air emissions modeler, she analyzes air emissions data on animal feeding operations (AFOs) in SAS, performs literature reviews on relevant work, and writes reports to communicate her findings to other scientists.

Chelsey is part of a small scientific team which is spearheading and continuing the National Air Emissions Monitoring Study (NAEMS). The NAEMS project was created in 2005 to characterize air emissions from various AFOs across the United States and coincides with an Air Compliance Agreement (70 FR 4958) between the EPA and certain agricultural communities. In a combined effort to improve air quality, farmer management, and Agency transparency, they are developing emissions estimation methodologies (EEMs) that will serve all [North] American farmers as an easy-to-use predictive tool. Their team is excited to currently be in the midst of writing and submitting a report on EEMs for Layers (the chicken/egg-laying animal sector), since it’s been about 10 years from the start of NAEMS project.

Why does their project matter? Regulations are not keeping pace with the growing size of many AFOs. “Without sound methodologies to estimate AFO air emissions [from respective animal sectors], we cannot reliably determine whether or not they [i.e., the farmers/facility] are complying with the Clean Air Act (CAA, 1990) requirements [soon to be] set for them.” The work Chelsey and her team is doing will guide the decision-making process and creation of future regulations.

During her tenure at the EPA, she has completed 3 (going on 4) SAS courses, received a fellowship to attend Harvard’s Risk Analysis Conference, attended numerous high-profile meetings, and contributed to a national project with experts in their field. This September she will be attending OceanObs in Hawaii. When she’s not busy accomplishing all these things, you can find her traveling, writing, and exploring landscapes.