The ‘Layered Approach’ to Risk Mitigation of SARS-CoV-2 Transmission During Travel: A FOCUS ON AIRPORTS

The ‘Layered Approach’ to Risk Mitigation of SARS-CoV-2 Transmission During Travel: A FOCUS ON AIRPORTS

February 25, 2021 11:00 am – 12:30 pm EST | Watch recording

Moderated by Wendy Purcell, APHI, HSPH


Guest Speakers:

Wendy Purcell, PhD FRSA, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Professor Emeritus of Biomedicine (UK)

Jack Spengler, Akira Yamaguchi Professor of Environmental Health & Human Habitation, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Catrina Gilbert, VP Risk Management, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)

Alan Black, VP Public Safety, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)

Charles Norton, Deputy Director Engineering & Facilities, Portland International Jetport (PWM)

Ramon Sanchez, ScD, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Ed Nardell, MD, Harvard Medical School

Steve Thody, Vantage Airport Group

This 90-minute webinar will be focused on airports and how a ‘layered approach’ can reduce the public health risks of SARS-CoV-2 transmissions during travel. The Aviation Public Health Initiative (APHI) has been studying current aircraft, airline, and airport practices and their impact on public health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

More information about APHI and published reports are available at


Speaker bios


Wendy Purcell, PhD FRSA, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Professor Emeritus of Biomedicine (UK)

Dr. Wendy Purcell PhD FRSA, a Research Scholar with Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard University leads research on global leadership and governance for sustainable transformation in higher education and in various business sectors, including Travel & Tourism, the Auto industry, and the Aviation sector; she directs the Sustainable Development Solutions Group.  Wendy is Emeritus Professor and was President Vice-Chancellor of a UK university (2007-2015), taking it to the top 1% of world universities and 1st ‘green’ UK university.  She is a Council Member of the United Nations University, Member of the Association of American Universities and Colleges, was a Non-Executive Director to the UK Government’s Department of Business, Innovation and Skills and is an Expert Adviser and Board member to a range of global Boards and charities advancing internationalization and sustainability leadership.  She is visiting Professor at McGill University and coach/mentor to senior leaders.  Wendy’s purpose lies in transforming lives through education and research in pursuit of social equity, the knowledge economy and sustainable development.  She has authored over 100 academic publications, as well as book chapters, books and patent filings.  She is currently editor of the lead journal Sustainability for a special issue on ‘Sustainable Higher Education and Leadership’, lead editor of a textbook entitled ‘Handbook on Sustainability in Higher Education: an Agenda for Transformational Change’ and series editor for 17 books on ‘Higher Education and the Sustainable Development Goals’.

Jack Spengler, Akira Yamaguchi Professor of Environmental Health & Human Habitation, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

John Spengler, Akira Yamaguchi Professor of Environmental Health and Human Habitation, and Director of the JPB Environmental Health Fellowship Program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, has conducted research on personal monitoring, air pollution health effects, indoor air pollution, and a variety of environmental sustainability issues.  Several of his investigations have focused on housing design and its effects on ventilation rates, building materials’ selection, energy consumption, and total environmental quality in homes. Spengler’s current research focuses on health and the built environment and the wellbeing benefits of exposure to Nature. Over this past year, his efforts included assessing COVID mitigation strategies for schools, airports and aircraft. He recently served on the National Academies Health and Medicine Division “Roundtable on Environmental Health Sciences, Research and Medicine”, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s Chemistry of Indoor Environments advisory committee.

Catrina Gilbert, VP Risk Management, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)

Catrina joined DFW in 2017 and serves as the Vice President of Risk Management. She leads the planning and the execution of enterprise-wide Risk Management programs that affect DFW’s Strategic Plan. Catrina is responsible for the implementation of a consistent framework for addressing risks, designing interventions and transfers of risk, overseeing the Airport’s Rolling Owner Controlled Insurance Program (ROCIP) for capital development projects and implementing safety programs focused on prevention. She also manages the risk-related emergency response and business continuity plans and collaborates with stakeholder departments to design and implement customized programs, including serving as Co-Chair of the DFW Readiness Task Force which leads the airport’s pandemic response and recovery efforts.
She is an active member of several industry organizations, including Airports Council International (ACI), serving as the Risk Management Committee Chair.
Catrina holds a master’s degree in Public Administration and a bachelor’s in Communications from Troy University in Troy, Alabama.

Alan D. Black, VP/Director of Public Safety, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)

Alan has been a member of DFW Airport’s Public Safety Department for over three decades.  Alan leads 750 Public Safety employees who are responsible for all aspects of public safety at DFW, to include Police, Fire, EMS, Security, Emergency Management, and Access Control.  Alan manages an $92 million budget.  He has been involved in numerous aviation related catastrophic events during his career.
Alan is certified as a Law Enforcement Officer and Firefighter and holds a secret clearance.  He has a Master Degree in Homeland Defense & Security Studies from the Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey, California and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Fire Administration from Western Illinois University.  He is also a graduate of the US National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program.

Charles Norton, P.E. Deputy Director Engineering & Facilities, Portland International Jetport (PWM)

Charles joined the Portland International Jetport in 2016. He leads the Engineering and Facilities division within the Jetport overseeing all aspects of Capital Improvement projects including the construction and rehabilitation of Taxiways & Runways. Charles also manages the Terminal and Parking Garage Facilities which includes the oversight of the Facility staff responsible for maintaining Electrical, HVAC, Information Technology, and other ancillary infrastructure related to the Jetport campus. Charles is registered as a Professional Engineer in the State of Maine and has experience in the Engineering field at the State, Municipal, and Private level.

Charles holds a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Maine, Orono.

Ramon Sanchez, ScD, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Principal Investigator
Innovation and Sustainable Ecosystems’ Development
Research Associate, Department of Environmental Health

Dr. Ramon Sanchez is the former Director of the Sustainable Technologies and Health Program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Since early May of 2020, he has been teaching online weekly courses on technologies and practices to prevent COVID-19 and strategies to contain this pandemic outbreak.  To date, more than 2,000 people have participated in these classes.
He is instructor of the courses “Design of Renewable Energy Projects”, “Sustainable Product Design and the Innovation Ecosystem” and “Sustainable Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management Operations” at Harvard University.
Ramon Sanchez is a Doctor and Master of Science in Environmental Health from Harvard University, he is also a Master of Science in Manufacturing Systems and a Mechanical Engineer.  Before coming to Harvard University, he was an automotive engineer and director of operations in a large manufacturing corporation.

Edward Nardell, Professor in the Departments of Environmental Health and Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Associate Physician, DSMHI BWH
Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School

Dr Nardell’s research interest in airborne infection and its control began with an outbreak of drug resistant TB in a large homeless shelter in Boston in 1983 when he was the TB Control Officer with the City Health Dept. The outbreak demonstrated that 3 dogmas about TB transmission and pathogenesis were untrue, earning publication in the New England J. of Medicine. Despite latent TB infection being common among the homeless, (1) transmission was occurring, (2) INH resistant TB was transmissible, and (3) exogenous reinfection occurred. In an effort to stop transmission Nardell contacted Richard L. Riley, pioneer researcher of TB transmission and UV air disinfection, beginning an 18 year collaboration during his retirement. Together they wrote and published on UV air disinfection together, and envisioned repeating Riley’s famous Baltimore guinea pig air sampling study to prove its efficacy once and for all under rigorous conditions, and to refine its use. With the 1985-1992 resurgence of drug resistant TB in the US, there was renewed interest in this neglected technology. To deal with low modern ceilings, they circulated a design for tightly louvered fixtures to protect room occupants, the basic design in use today. However, in the era of HIV-related MDR and XDR transmission there is a need to adapt this technology for use in resource-limited settings. Toward that end they have re-established Riley’s experimental apparatus near Pretoria, South Africa and have recently demonstrated that upper room UV can be 80% effective in preventing MDR-TB transmission under rigorous testing. Three years ago, another pioneer, Dr. Melvin First, and Nardell established the first international post-graduate course for engineers, architects, and public health workers on design and engineering strategies to prevent airborne infection.

Steve Thody FCCA, Senior Director, Vantage Airport Group

Steve has more than 20 years’ experience in aviation from leadership  roles with global cargo operations and network airlines. As an executive member of Vantage Airport Group,  a leading investor, developer, and manager of airports around the world, Steve is helping deliver the redevelopment of Terminal B at LaGuardia Airport, the largest P3 deal in U.S. aviation history and a $5.1B investment in sustainable infrastructure that has received Envision Platinum Status. He is also a certified accountant with 18 years of finance experience, and prior to joining Vantage Airport Group, was responsible for Terminal 7 at JFK Airport.


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