CSU Aerosol Emissions Study

Update 11.16.2020

The scientific and performing arts team at CSU continues to test individuals in each area of specialization, including voice, wind instruments, and acting, and has now reached the halfway point in the goal of testing 100 individuals of varying ages and ability levels.

The National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) will host part two of a multi-part series dedicated to the scientific study of aerosol emissions in the performing arts. This webinar will feature Dr. John Volckens, principal investigator of the CSU study, and will be moderated by Dr. Daniel Goble, director of the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance at CSU.

Dr. Volckens will provide an update on the progress of the ongoing study at CSU focused specifically on bioaerosol emissions, including current factual information which this study has brought to clear light, and how an understanding of this information may, should, and will affect our work in the fine and performing arts fields. Additionally, Professor Volckens will provide an update on his ongoing work to understand the efficacy of masks and face-coverings, which are now thought to be a primary means to control the spread of the virus from individuals in close contact.

Session Date: Wednesday, Dec. 2, 4 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time)

For more information and to register for this session, please do so at: Bioaerosol Emissions in the Performing Arts – Reducing Emissions and Exposures: A Multi-Part Series

Update 08.18.20

The scientific and performing arts team at CSU has completed preliminary work, which included adapting the SET facility for testing musicians, singers, and actors, as well as finalizing study protocols through a range of preliminary tests involving wind playing, speech, and singing. Protocols for dance are forthcoming.  The team began the testing of at least 100 participants last week, including wind players and vocalists of varying ages and ability levels. Participants will be tested using protocols designed to assure constancy within areas of specialization while testing multiple individuals in each area of specialization. Testing protocols will include events with and without mitigation strategies.

The National Association of Schools of Music (NASM ) will be hosting a series of webinars dedicated to solving issues related to COVID-19 this week. Preliminary results of the CSU study will be discussed on Friday, August 21 from 3:30 to 5:00 PM EDT in as session featuring the lead investigators of the CSU, CU, and Maryland studies. If you would like to register for this session, please do so here.

Preliminary data will also be available on this page the following week.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advocates maintaining six feet from others to prevent the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19); however, this is based on expected airborne particles emitted during regular breathing.

Performance artists are more likely to display forced-air breathing (i.e., singing, playing musical instruments or dancing, among other artistic expressions), which is more like sneezing and coughing.  While data is lacking, there is developing consensus that infectious aerosolized particles containing SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 are partly responsible for global spread. According to one recent study, the transmission distance of SARS-CoV-2 may be more than 13 feet (https://doi.org/10.3201/eid2607.200885).

Unfortunately, many infected individuals do not realize they are infected; and group activities such as choir, dance, acting, or instrument ensembles increase the risk of spread. Solutions are needed to reduce the risk of viral spread during performances and group practice settings.

Headed by a multi-disciplinary team of leading researchers at Colorado State University, this proposal aims to quantify the problem and more importantly, identify mitigating strategies to reduce infectious spread.


John Volckens, Ph.D.: Professor, Mechanical Engineering

John Volckens is a professor of Mechanical Engineering and the director of the Center for Energy Development and Health at CSU. He has appointments in Environmental Health, Biomedical Engineering, the Colorado School of Public Health, and the CSU Energy Institute. His research interests involve air quality, low-cost sensors, exposure science, and air pollution-related disease. He received clinical research training in controlled human exposure at the U.S. EPA's National Health Effects and Exposure Research Laboratory in Research Triangle Park, NC. He holds four patents and has published over 100 scientific manuscripts related to human exposure science, aerosol technology, and air pollution-related disease. He has been the PI of over $20M in funded research from the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control, EPA, and NASA.

Daniel Goble, D.M.A.: Director, School of Music, Theatre, and Dance; Professor of Music

Dan Goble is the director of the School of Music, Theatre and Dance at Colorado State University. Dr. Goble served as the dean of the School of Visual and Performing Arts at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, Conn., where for 21 years his leadership roles also included chair of the Department of Music and coordinator of Jazz Studies. During his tenure at Western Connecticut State University (WCSU), Dr. Goble provided leadership for curricular and programmatic changes that affected positively the School of Visual and Performing Arts (SVPA) and the university, most notably the planning and construction of an award-winning $97 million instructional and performance facility, which opened in 2014

Rebecca Phillips, D.M.A.: Director of Bands, Professor of Music

Rebecca Phillips headshotRebecca Phillips is professor of music and director of bands at Colorado State University where she conducts the CSU Wind Symphony and guides all aspects of the band and graduate wind conducting program. She has served as a guest-conductor and clinician, throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. Dr. Phillips regularly conducts collegiate honor bands, all-state bands, and festival bands across the United States, Canada, and Europe and she has been a rehearsal clinician at the Midwest Clinic: An International Band and Orchestra Conference. In June 2020, she will be President of the National Band Association and is currently the Music Education chair of the College Band Directors National Association. She was selected for membership in the prestigious American Bandmasters Association in 2014.

Charles Henry, Ph.D.: Prof, Dept Chem; Dept Chem & Biological Engineering; Biomed Engineering

Charles Henry headshotCharles Henry is a professor of Chemistry and Chemical and Biological Engineering. Dr. Henry’s research interests lie broadly in the development of lab-on-a-chip technologies, to study environmental and biological phenomena. Major techniques used include microfabrication, chromatography, electrochemistry, electrophoresis, microfluidics, microscopy, and 3D printing. Dr. Henry has published over 180 peer-reviewed publications, generated eight patents, and is an associate editor for Analytica Chimica Acta. In addition, Dr. Henry has been involved in five spin-out companies from Colorado State University with products ranging from industrial water quality sensors to low-cost environmental diagnostics.

Heather Pidcoke, M.D., Ph.D.: Chief Medical Research Officer; Associate Director of Research, Transl. Med. Inst.

Heather Pidcoke headshotHeather Pidcoke is the chief medical research officer and associate director of research at the Translational Medicine Institute at Colorado State University. She received her Doctor of Medicine from the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, has a Master of Science in Clinical Investigation, and a Ph.D. in Physiology from the University of Texas, Health Science Center, San Antonio. Pidcoke has industry experience with clinical development projects and has been recognized on a national level for her contributions in advancing medical research for military personnel. She received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in 2016.

Scientific Advisory Board

Allen Henderson, Executive Director, National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS)

headshotAllen Henderson holds degrees from Carson Newman College (B.M.), The University of Tennessee (M.M.) and the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati (D.M.A.), where his minor was in Arts Administration and he was winner of the prestigious Corbett-Treigle Opera Competition.

Prior to his appointment as executive director in 2008, he served NATS as district and regional governor and was elected national secretary/treasurer from 2006-2008. He also served as interim executive director from 2007-2008. Henderson was a participant in the 1993 NATS Intern Program and later hosted the program in 1998. He was chair of the coordinating committee for the 2008 NATS 50th National Conference in Nashville, Tennessee.

Henderson has held teaching positions at Oklahoma Baptist University, Austin Peay State University and Georgia Southern University. In these positions he has taught voice, foreign language diction, opera, choral techniques, choral literature, song literature and directed choirs. He also served as music department chair at Austin Peay and Georgia Southern.

As baritone soloist, Henderson has appeared in concert, opera, and oratorio across the country. A district winner and regional finalist in the Metropolitan Opera auditions, Henderson was winner of the 1995 National Federation of Music Clubs Artist Awards. He also was a regional finalist in the NATSAA competition.


Tim Rhea, Director of Bands/Head of Music Activities, Texas A&M University

headshotDr. Timothy B. Rhea is director of bands and music activities at Texas A&M University. As director of bands, he serves as administrative head of the university band program (1000 students), serves as conductor of the University Wind Symphony, and is the director of the nationally famous “Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band.” As director of performing ensembles, he additionally oversees the activities of the jazz ensemble, orchestra, and choral programs.

Currently in his twenty-seventh year, he came to Texas A&M University in June of 1993 following a year of public school teaching in LaPorte, Texas (near Houston).

Dr. Rhea is a graduate of DeKalb, Texas High School and grew up in the music programs of the Texas public schools. He earned the Bachelor of Music Education with honors from the University of Arkansas where he was a private conducting student of Eldon A. Janzen. He earned the Master of Music in Wind Conducting from Texas Tech University where he studied with the late James Sudduth. During his time at Tech, he served as assistant conductor of the University Symphonic Band and graduate assistant director and musical arranger to the Texas Tech University Marching Band, where he worked with Keith Bearden. Dr. Rhea was awarded the Doctor of Musical Arts in Wind Conducting and Composition from the University of Houston in May of 1999. In July of 1999, he was awarded the Outstanding Young Bandmaster of the Year for the state of Texas from Phi Beta Mu. In Dec. 2000, Dr. Ray Bowen, former president of Texas A&M University, presented Dr. Rhea with the President’s Meritorious Service Award to Texas A&M University.

Dr. Rhea was named conductor of the TAMU Wind Symphony in 1995. During his tenure at Texas A&M University, Dr. Rhea has conducted the Wind Symphony for conventions of the Texas Music Educators Association (five times), the College Band Directors National Association (two times), the Midwest International Band & Orchestra Clinic, the Western International Band Clinic, and the American Bandmasters Association (2009 convention host), as well as in settings such as New York’s Carnegie Hall, the Meyerson Symphony Center of Dallas and the Wortham Center of Houston, and on tours which have taken the band throughout the state of Texas. On their European tours (1999, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2013), Dr. Rhea has conducted the Wind Symphony during performances in Ireland, England, Austria, Germany, Italy, and the Czech Republic. Under his direction, the Wind Symphony has released several internationally popular compact discs, all with Mark Records in New York.

Dr. Rhea’s tenure with the 420+ member Texas Aggie Band has included performances throughout the United States. In addition to both the Presidential Inaugural Parade in Washington, D.C., and the Texas Governor’s Inaugural in Austin, bowl appearances with the Aggie Band have included the Holiday, Cotton, Sugar, Independence, and Alamo.

In addition to conducting, Rhea maintains a very successful career as an arranger and composer. His output of compositions and arrangements numbers over 300. As a composer, he has received performances at the Midwest International Band Clinic, the Texas Music Educators Association, the Texas Bandmasters Association, the College Band Directors Association, the Cotton Bowl, and the Tournament of Roses Parade. His works are published with TRN Music Publisher, RBC Music Publisher, Southern Music Company, and Arranger’s Publishing Company.

Dr. Rhea maintains an internationally active schedule as conductor, clinician, and adjudicator. He has been extended invitations to membership in both the prestigious American Bandmasters Association and Phi Beta Mu. He is currently vice president and secretary  of The John Philip Sousa Foundation. He is a former president of the American Bandmasters Association, and formerly on the board of directors of the National Band Association. Dr. Rhea additionally holds memberships in the Texas Music Educators Association; Texas Bandmasters Association; College Band Directors National Association; Big 12 Band Directors Association; World Association of Symphonic Bands & Wind Ensembles; American Society of Composers, Authors, & Publishers; Phi Mu Alpha; Phi Kappa Phi; Pi Kappa Lambda; Kappa Delta Pi; and is an honorary member of Kappa Kappa Psi.


Emily Morgan, Director of Dance, Colorado State University

headshotEmily Morgan is a teacher, dancer, and choreographer. Her training is eclectic, largely rooted in Cunningham technique and postmodern release-based technique and complimented by her study of Limón, Graham, and Klein techniques, as well as ballet, kathak, capoeira, yoga, and other forms. She has performed with members of Lower Left Performance Collective in Texas and New Mexico, with Sebastian Prantl in Krems, Austria, Daniel Ashwanden in Vienna, Austria, in work in New York by Stephan Koplowitz and Ellen Cornfield, and in work in North Carolina by Sarah Council, Ashwini Gogate, Ann Dils, Martha Connerton, Jan van Dyke, and BJ Sullivan. Her choreography has been shown in North and South Carolina, Indiana, Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Maryland, New Mexico, and California. Emily’s research is situated in community dance practices and interactive/participatory dance in traditional and non-traditional spaces. This encompasses many other research interests: dance created by and for community members, site-specific dance, and interdisciplinary and/or collaborative performance and pedagogy. She has presented her written and creative research at conferences and festivals throughout the United States and internationally in Mexico, Austria. and Barbados. Emily has taught modern dance, improvisation, choreography, history, world dance forms, ballet, and dance pedagogy, among others. She has taught at Winthrop University, the University of Texas, El Paso, El Paso Community College, University of North Carolina, Greensboro, Elon University, the North Carolina Governor’s School, and at a public magnet arts high school in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Emily holds an M.F.A. in Dance/Choreography from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, a B.A. in Dance from Denison University in Ohio, and is a doctoral student in dance at Texas Woman’s University.


The Facilities at Colorado State University

SET facility

Environmental Testing (SET) facility

The Powerhouse Energy Campus contains a unique, simulated environmental testing (SET) facility for studying human aerosol emissions and exposures in a clean, versatile environment. The SET facility is one of only a handful like it in the world and has advanced capabilities to measure and analyze aerosolized particles. Data are automatically recorded by a custom-built computer control and data acquisition system. In addition, the Volckens research group houses over $2M in sophisticated aerosol research equipment for the determination of aerosol size, concentration, and chemical composition.


The goal of this research is to reduce the risk of human exposure and co-infection during performing arts events and rehearsals.

The specific objectives of this project are to:

  1. Understand aerosol release and distance traveled during heavy breathing, movement, vocalization (singing & acting), and playing a range of instruments.
  2. Identify solutions to reduce aerosol release and spread while artists perform their craft.
  3. Develop guidance documents that can be used across a range of artistic disciplines


This project will provide a robust, scientifically rigorous dataset to develop solutions addressing aerosol spread during artistic performances. Findings will inform guidelines aimed at reducing risks to artists for use by performing arts national and international governance bodies.

Major Supporters:

Lead Supporters:


Valued Donors:

  • Richard C. and Toni C. Atkinson
  • Susan Baker
  • Lisa Baldwin
  • Eleanor D. Barrett and Margaret E. Cottam
  • William and Stephanie Barth
  • David Betz and Lynn Scott
  • Douglas Boyer
  • Aubree Brasser
  • Myra Brown
  • Beatrice Chetard
  • Jennifer Clippert
  • College Orchestra Directors Association
  • Colorado Flute Association
  • Tim and Wendi Davis
  • Ann R. Donoghue
  • Don and Cynthia Dotson
  • Mark Douglass
  • Nick and Amy Drabik
  • Anonymous
  • Catherine Flannery
  • Flute Plus
  • Jim and Julie Gatesman
  • Elena Georgieva
  • David Hahn
  • Utah Hamrick
  • Cindy Haraway
  • Leslie Harrington
  • Jennifer L. Holz and Georgia Peeples
  • Karen L. Howat
  • Ryan Hyde
  • Nancy Jianakoplos
  • George and Laura G. Jones
  • Richard Kellogg
  • Harry W. Kenney and Leslie L. Stewart
  • Evan Key
  • William Kingren
  • Robert A. and Lisa G. Kreutz
  • Ira Kroll
  • Fred W. Jacobs and Jennifer Clary
  • Arthur T. and Sheri L. Linnell
  • Manchester Choral Society
  • National Catholic Band Association
  • Megan S. Miller
  • Randy D. Moench and Emily H. Thurston-Moench
  • Tim Oliver
  • Karen Olsen and Guada Bautista
  • Jan Opalach
  • Douglas and Kathleen M. Payne
  • Edward and Laura Piechota
  • Flute Plus
  • Janet M. Puckett
  • David W. and Louann Reid
  • Randy Rosette
  • Greg and Jane Sandstrom
  • Molly Sayles
  • Belinda and Elisa Shreckengost
  • Craig E. and Lorraine L. Shuler
  • Peter R. and Linda E. Sommer
  • Lisa Soo
  • Erin Spencer
  • Steven T. and Kellie A. Sponberg
  • Cary C. Stewart
  • Susquehanna Chorale
  • Steven and Monica Szalaj
  • Adam A. Torres and Michael Schreier
  • Gayle Treber, '71, '87
  • Theodore and Malia Van Rooy
  • Kirsten Wells
  • Nina Zheng

Your Gift

Your contribution will immediately provide for:

  • Salary for project staff (one graduate student, one postdoc, one research scientist)
  • Research supplies
  • Calibration and maintenance of equipment
  • Open access publication fees (to make the data/results freely accessible)