Q&A: Dr. David Lary Talks About the GASP Project


Dr, David Lary, Ph.D., is leading a new pilot project called Geolocated Allergen Sensing Platform (GASP) that will use data to help reduce the harmful effects of pollution.

Lary is an atmospheric scientist, associate professor of physics at the University of Texas at Dallas, and the author of AutoChem, an award-winning NASA release software designed for modeling atmospheric chemistry and chemical data assimilation.


Dr. David Lary

He took a moment recently to talk about his career, GASP, and potential research for the next generation of scientific scholars.

Q: Your UT Dallas bio opens with, “The thread running through all my research is the use of observation and automation to facilitate scientific discovery and societal benefit.” What led you to this, the point where science and societal benefit meet?

A: I would like the research to have practical benefit to society. So, I specifically choose those areas that have a wide relevance to a very large number of people, both locally and globally. Issues such as health and water. Then, use a suite of technologies to try and address these issues and provide scalable solutions that allow data-driven decisions and insights to be provided, often in a real-time manner.

Q: Where did the idea for the GASP project come from?

A: GASP was a culmination of several things. I have been working in this research area for over a decade. However, the name GASP was chosen by the folks from the Chattanooga Public Library at a NIST Global City Teams Challenge. Chattanooga has a high incidence of childhood asthma associated with the high levels of pollen.


An array of sensors used by the GASP project.

Q: You’ve discussed how the GASP project could allow people to use their phones to see high pollutant areas in real-time. When will this feature be available and what else can the GASP project do?

A: The deployment will be staged over the next two years. The approach is highly scalable citizen science. We would like thousands of sensors to be deployed across Texas, the country, and the world. The sensors can be sponsored by different individuals with a data sharing platform.

 In addition, we have found that using machine learning, we can predict 26 days in advance when pollen will spike. This can be used to inform temporary preemptive diet changes to reduce our personal allergen sensitivity and the impact of periods of high pollen count, thus enhancing the quality of life of thousands of people across the country and the world.

Q: What doors might the GASP project open for the next generation of scientific scholars?

A: The confluence of great societal need, more than 50 million people in the U.S. with allergic diseases, with appropriate technology solutions including the use of IoT devices, remote sensing, aerial vehicles, and machine learning, provides many opportunities for student projects.

See more of Lary’s work here

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