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Scientist at Work: Robert Devlin, Ph.D.

2013 February 9

February is American Heart Month! To help spread the word about heart health, EPA scientists and staff will write each week about the Agency’s Green Heart effort to educate the public about of the connection between air pollution and your heart. Be sure to check back each week to learn more, and for tips on what you can can do stay healthy!

Meet EPA Scientist Robert Devlin, Ph.D.

EPA scientist Dr. Robert Devlin’s main research interest is understanding the human health effects of air pollution. His research is used to characterize the effects that inhaled substances, such as air pollutants, have on human pulmonary (related to lungs and breathing) and cardiovascular (heart, lungs, and blood flow) health, and the physiological changes responsible for those effects.

When he retires Dr. Devlin hopes to become a star on the senior PGA golf tour as well as a movie reviewer for Entertainment Weekly.

How does your science matter?

I know my research matters because the results help set standards that protect people from real world exposures to air pollutants. As an example, we did a study Exit EPA Disclaimer a few years ago examining the lowest level of ozone that people could be safely exposed to and still be safe. Being able to conduct a study that ensures that our standards protect the public is important, and it makes you feel like your work means something.

We’re also interested in figuring out what we can tell people so they can protect themselves from air pollutants if they find themselves in a place with higher air pollution levels than EPA believes is safe (Editor’s note: for more information, also see EPA’s Green Heart web page: We just completed a study Exit EPA Disclaimer, in which we found a positive relationship between taking fish oil tablets and protecting yourself against some of the effects of air pollution on the cardiovascular system.

Tell us about your background.

I grew up in Texas and got my doctorate from the University of Virginia Exit EPA Disclaimer in the area of developmental biology. My graduate research involved looking at genes that control the development of muscles in bird embryos using molecular biology approaches. I was on the faculty for Emory University Exit EPA Disclaimer for several years doing that research right after receiving my doctorate.

Keep reading Dr. Devlin’s interview here.

Read more Scientist at Work interviews here.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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8 Responses leave one →
  1. Andre Kaminski permalink
    February 9, 2013

    As a lighting company we offer only L.E.D. bulbs that are mercury free.

    On top of your logo you are showing a C.F.L (compact fluorescent light) bulbs, this bulbs have mercury in them and very few people dispose of them in a safely manner.

    Knowing the dangers that mercury presents to humans, what do you think is the affect on the health factor with the gaseous mercury flowing in the atmosphere and polluting vast areas in the bodies of water.

    It seems an oxymoron that you study long, hart, and blood while sponsoring a light bulb that in its nature is affecting many neurological aspects of the human composition, needless to say what it dose to our longs, hart and blood.

  2. Nikolay Kotev permalink
    February 9, 2013

    Very interesting!

  3. Arman.- permalink
    February 11, 2013

    Green Heart And Broken Heart…….

    For a broken hearters, die, were no problem;different with green heart who want the human are healthy life. For a broken hearters, life, were love sickness, different with green heart who love peaceable. Green heart love fresh air beyond compare air pollution and smog that more spread everywhere,- anywhere. Oh my God, where do you do a fresh air? Oh my Lord, what do you do air pollutants…………????

  4. Arman.- permalink
    February 11, 2013

    I Don’t Understand !!!!!

    When my niece from Sydney read my post to EPA, she said that : ” I don’t understand !”. I am shocked and to apologize to EPA and the readers, because my English language so bad. I’m sorry and thanks to EPA who to take on published in greenversations. Thanks so much!

    • Sam at EPA permalink*
      February 13, 2013

      Arman – No need to apologize! We love your comments and are so happy that you regularly read and comment on our blog posts. You are fantastic.

  5. September 26, 2014

    I’ve been surfing online more than three hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It is pretty worth enough for me. Personally, if all web owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the internet will be a lot more useful than ever before.

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