In Memoriam: Sally Liu

Sally Lui

Sally Liu presented in 2004 at an elementary school in Seattle, one of the many community engagement activities that kept children involved in the Diesel Bus Study and their families informed and engaged in the research.
Photo: Mary Levin

Sally Liu, an affiliate professor in our department, passed away on June 6, 2011 in Switzerland. Since 2004, she had been an environmental health scientist and research professor at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, an associated institute of the University of Basel in Switzerland.

"In her 46 years, Sally accomplished so much and helped launch many other investigators' careers," said Professor David Kalman, chair of our department. "She was a great colleague and friend, highly energetic, and highly organized. She had so much enthusiasm for science and for environmental health; she inspired everyone around her. We continue to miss her deeply."

Liu studied the health effects of exposure to ambient air pollution and made valuable contributions to largescale studies and research centers, including the Swiss Study on Air Pollution and Lung Diseases in Adults, the European Study of Cohorts for Air Pollution Effects, the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis and Air Pollution (MESA Air), and the Northwest Research Center for Particulate Air Pollution and Health based at the UW.

"Sally Liu was a gifted, energetic scientist widely admired in the exposure science community," said Professor John Kissel. "She was the 2003 recipient of the Joan Daisy Award of the International Society of Exposure Science, which is given annually to an outstanding young scientist. The fact that in 2010 the award was given to Ryan Allen, who completed his PhD at the UW under Sally's direction, provides a hint of the loss her untimely passing represents."

Liu studied atmospheric sciences as an undergraduate at National Taiwan University, where she helped develop Taiwan's first probabilistic typhoon forecast program. She earned a Doctor of Science degree in Environmental Health from Harvard University's School of Public Health, where her research was the first to measure individual ozone exposures using a personal monitor. In 1998, Liu joined our department's faculty as an assistant professor, and was promoted to associate professor in 2003. After her appointment in Basel, Switzerland, she traveled back and forth between Europe and the United States, continuing collaborations with researchers. Then in 2009, her appointment at the UW was changed to affiliate professor.

Liu's recent projects included a five-year assessment of children's exposure to diesel exhaust before and after the school bus fleets were retrofit with cleaner engine emission systems and fuels, a study funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. "Her investigation of 'self pollution' in diesel school buses was particularly notable for its innovative and thorough design," said Kissel. The UW Diesel Bus Study team led by Liu worked with 432 children from nearly 70 Seattle and Maple Valley schools and monitored more than 200 school buses to find out how they contributed to children's daily exposures to air pollution.

"Sally was a dedicated and tireless scientist who was driven to conduct the highest quality scientific work and led those around her to work to their highest potential," said Professor Joel Kaufman, director of MESA Air. "Sally was at the cutting edge of understanding exposures to air pollution, and her work has been and will continue to be critical to informing clean air policies on a global level and to protecting the health of the public," said Kaufman. "It was my privilege to work with her."

Liu leaves behind her husband, Anthony Rossini, their two sons, Matthias and Andreas, and many friends and family in Taiwan, Switzerland, and Seattle.

For donations, please click here to link to Swiss TPH. All donations go toward young investigator awards given in the name of Sally Liu.

^ Top