Linsey C. Marr, the Charles P. Lunsford Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech, will give the 10th annual Delta Dental Oral Health Endowed Lecture virtually on Wednesday, Jan. 6, at 7 p.m. The lecture is part of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine’s Oral Health Week and is made possible through a gift from Delta Dental of Virginia.

The lecture, titled “The Role of Aerosols in the Transmission of COVID-19,” will look at the procedures in health care and dental settings that may produce aerosols, which many believe to carry COVID-19, and how health care professionals can reduce exposure to them.

“There is overwhelming evidence that aerosols are an important route of transmission for COVID-19, both in close contact situations and at distances greater than six feet,” Marr said. “These microscopic droplets remain floating in the air for minutes to hours, during which they can be carried many meters on natural air currents.”

Marr said SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has been found in the air of hospital rooms and directly in the exhaled breath of patients and that certain superspreading events are best explained by aerosols. Her research group applies interdisciplinary approaches to study pollutants in indoor and outdoor air. She is especially interested in emerging or nontraditional aerosols, such as influenza virus and other microorganisms, and how they are physically and chemically transformed in the environment. In 2013, she received an NIH New Innovator award to study influenza virus in aerosols.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, Marr’s research has been cited in The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, The Today Show, and hundreds of other media outlets worldwide.

“We are honored to have Dr. Marr as our guest speaker for the 10th annual Delta Dental Endowed Lecture,” said Charles “Bud” Conklin, dentist and associate professor of surgery who was instrumental in developing an oral health component to the school’s curriculum. “Her research is incredibly timely for dentists and other health care providers as well as medical students.”

In addition to sponsoring the annual lecture, Delta Dental's support is, in a large part, responsible for the school’s robust oral health-oral medicine curriculum. Recognizing the need for medical students to be trained in oral health, the school provides a curriculum and a dedicated elective to provide them the diagnostic and clinical skills to incorporate oral health care in their future practices as physicians to enhance patient outcomes.

If you would like to attend the Marr lecture, please register, and you will be sent a link to attend.