Public lecture

Breathe - Provocations and Panel Discussion

  • 28 June 2023
  • 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
  • Hybrid - International House & Zoom Webinar

Please note change of venue, this event is now at International House.

This IAS Breathe theme event is an interdisciplinary research showcase led by our international IAS fellows. Their presentations are intended to provoke interest and exchanges with the audience. The aim is to stimulate new research and new collaborations within and between Loughborough researchers and its international research networks. 

With presentations from IAS Visiting Fellows:
Associate Professor Holly Dugan
George Washington University
Professor Akhilendra Bhushan Gupta
Malaviya National Institute of Technology Jaipur
Dr Swati Satish Joshi
Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar
Professor Mario Thevis
German Sport University Cologne
Professor Alamelu Sundaresan
Texas Southern University



Arrivals and Light Refreshments


Introductory Remarks

Marsha Meskimmon, Director of the IAS


Perfume and Impossible Histories

Associate Professor Holly Dugan


Lessons from my field studies on causal linkages of ambient, indoor, and occupational exposure to air pollutants and human respiratory health

Professor Akhilendra Bhushan Gupta


Inspiration and Expiration: The Environgnostic Soliloquies in Samuel Beckett’s Biomorphic Play Breath (1969) Set the Stage for Pirana Case-Study

Dr Swati Satish Joshi


Sports Drug Testing & the Athlete’s Exposome

Professor Mario Thevis


Environmental dust exposure - lunar dust and the human challenge for moon missions

Professor Alamelu Sundaresan


Plenary & Open Discussion 

Chaired by Dr Joan Fitzpatrick (Loughborough University)

Associate Professor Holly Dugan, George Washington University

Perfume and Impossible Histories

In this short provocation, I draw on my research and expertise in perfume history to query how this ephemeral and unstable chemical art object opens up new ways for thinking about experience and historical research. I'll present four key examples that demonstrate how perfume enables understanding of not only large-scale historical shifts but also intimate and discrete dynamics of individual experience. Surveying recent olfactory experiments by artists and perfumers Robert Blackson, Anicka Yi and Bruno Fazzolari, I argue that perfume provides a material structure for studying breath as a vector for thinking about the limits of archival evidence. My final example is drawn from my research on the role of perfume in shaping early modern performance during a time of plague. A tool of theatrical simulacrum and prophylactic health, staged perfume in early modern plays demonstrates the vexed dynamics of sharing air. Taken together, these examples demonstrate how breath—as a concept—connects with art and history as well as science and design, providing new ways for thinking about the possibilities for historical research.

Professor Akhilendra Bhushan Gupta, Malaviya National Institute of Technology Jaipur

Lessons from my field studies on causal linkages of ambient, indoor, and occupational exposure to air pollutants and human respiratory health

There is an intimate relation between environment and human health. Despite advancements in the field of medicine, the health of an average Indian still faces a grim challenge from environmental pollution as 85% of the prevailing diseases owe their origin to environmental contamination. An environmental scientist/engineer has the onerous task of acting as a doctor of preventive medicine, if we have to reduce the incidence of such diseases.

Our work on ambient air environment and health has brought out significant association of air pollution due to traffic and respiratory problems; noise and respirable particles with cardiovascular disorders; etc. and we have come out with an interesting finding that the ‘variability in Peak Expiratory Flow Rate (PEFR)’ on short exposure to air pollution, is a better indicator for judging someone’s susceptibility to asthma than its absolute value. I will cover my case studies of Lakheri/Gaggal cement plants, Kota thermal power plant, ambient outdoor exposure related to traffic emissions, pollen dispersion modelling, silicosis in work places (mining and processing) that link exposure to air pollutants and human health and present an outline of protocols for exposure and health assessment and the appropriate statistical approach for testing the significance of hypothesis.

This work, when extended to indoor air pollution yielded further strength to our findings and we have been working on developing mathematical models to delineate the effect of indoor air pollution on respiratory health of the exposed persons especially the synergistic effect of fine particles and gases of combustion. The exposure assessment model has been applied to the cooks subject to pollution inside kitchens and corroborated with the lung functions of the exposed individuals. This work has helped develop prophylactic care among susceptible individuals. Our work on air quality in the kitchens of rural areas, using solid fuels, has shown a dire need for improving their indoor air quality, which has affected their respiratory health significantly. The cooks are subject to not only just the air pollutants, but also to an intense heat, which exacerbates their respiratory problems. Our results have indicated that a combination of exhaust fan and electric chimney can serve as an ideal combination for the ventilation of domestic and commercial kitchens for safe indoor air quality. We have also developed simple devices for improving the efficiency of stoves in rural kitchens and for ventilation of indoors using waste heat from the stoves.

Dr Swati Satish Joshi, Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar

Inspiration and Expiration: The Environgnostic Soliloquies in Samuel Beckett’s Biomorphic Play Breath (1969) Set the Stage for Pirana Case-Study

This paper is a continuation of my poster presentation, ‘Examining Environgnostic Performance in Beckett’s Breath,’ presented at ‘Samuel Beckett and the Anthropocene’ conference organised by Trinity College Dublin in December 2020. While discussing the environgnostic performance of human sounds and human breaths during the conference, I explained: “[…] environgnostic performance in Breath, sheds light on the idea that the human voice and the human breath (as characters in the play) are not only aware of the magnanimity of the accumulation of the solid, physical waste, but they also function as agents of protest against political neglect and manhandling of the circumstance” (Joshi 2020). In this paper, against the back drop of the environgnostic soliloquies of inspiration and expiration staged in Beckett’s Breath, I the 41-year-old garbage dump (Pirana) in my native city, Ahmedabad, as a destructive biomorphic artwork. The scholarly contributions of Oliver Árpád István Botar and Sozita Goudouna have shaped my comparative analysis of the garbage in Beckett’s Breath and Pirana’s dumping site as the paradoxical biomorphic artistic creations.

Professor Mario Thevis, German Sport University Cologne

Sports Drug Testing & the Athlete’s Exposome

Analytical approaches in sports drug testing are continuously updated and expanded, exploiting new information on drug metabolism and disposition in humans as well as innovations in sample preparation and analysis, and also novel strategies focusing on marker-based test methods have been assessed, developed, and implemented. The resulting improved detection capability and retrospectivity of sports drug testing approaches has considerably limited the formerly available options of substances and methods of doping. In addition, however, and similar to the general population, elite athletes are exposed to a complex set of environmental factors including chemicals, biological and physical stressors, which constitute an exposome that is, unlike for the general population, subjected to specific scrutiny for athletes due to applicable anti-doping regulations and routine doping controls.

Professor Alamelu Sundaresan, Texas Southern University

Environmental dust exposure - lunar dust and the human challenge for moon missions

Apart from dealing with differential gravity, cells, organs, and humans must deal with different atmospheric environments. On the Moon, lunar dust (LDS) exposure is a major concern for long-duration space missions, setting up of a colony on the Moon, in missions where lunar dust might stow away on garments or cargo that were exposed to the lunar surface. LDS exposure may cause several changes in immunity and inflammation in the body. While Mars expeditions are being planned, the Moon is a natural staging point for future interplanetary missions. The Deep Space Gateway could be the first platform from which human exploration of the Solar System could set forth. Moreover, it would provide the crew with new access and a chance to explore and investigate the moon’s surface. This talk will explore the scope, status and future of moon missions, the Artemis program, and the implications for life here on earth. 


This event is hybrid format, please use the required booking button at the bottom of the page for either in-person or online.
(Please note that in-person spaces are limited and booking is required, so we can manage numbers for catering and also the space in the room)

By booking a place at this event, attendees agree to behave in a respectful manner such that everyone feels comfortable contributing as they wish. The IAS reserves the right to eject anyone who does not abide by this policy.

IAS seminars are typically recorded, minus any Q&A sessions at the end, again to encourage contributions. The recordings are then uploaded to our website on a Fellows bio page and/or Programme page, along with our IAS YouTube Channel. If you are not able to attend a seminar live, please do still register as we will email everyone who registered to let them know once the recordings are made available.

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