Viability and Application of Mounting Personal PID VOC Sensors to Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems

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Cheryl Lynn Marcham
Scott S. Burgess
Joseph Cerreta
Patti J. Clark
James P. Solti
Brandon Breault
Joshua G. Marcham


Using a UAS-mounted sensor to allow for a rapid response to areas in which it may be difficult to reach or may not be safe for humans to encounter can increase the situational awareness of first responders of an aircraft crash site through the remote detection, identification, and quantification of airborne hazardous materials. The primary purpose of this research is to evaluate the innovative remote sensing viability and application of integrating existing commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) sensors with small unmanned aircraft system (UAS) technology to detect potentially hazardous airborne contaminants at optimum range resolutions using UAS platforms.

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Author Biographies

Cheryl Lynn Marcham, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Cheryl L. (Cheri) Marcham, PhD, CSP, CIH, CHMM, FAIHA is an Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator for the Master of Science in Occupational Safety Management in the College of Aeronautics Worldwide Online Campus for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.  She was previously the Environmental Health and Safety Officer for a major university for over 25 years.  She holds a B.S. in Biology from Arizona State University, and an M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center Department of Occupational and Environmental Health.

Scott S. Burgess, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Dr. Scott Burgess is an Associate Professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) in the Worldwide Campus Department of Flight.  Scott’s 35 years of aviation experience includes manned flight (helicopter and jet) as an Army Aviator and instructor pilot, safety program manager, an FAA rated instructor, flight program development, research periodical peer reviewer, conducts safety research, and UAS operations and research.  Scott has been a member of the US Helicopter Safety Team since 2010 working on accident analysis projects and published with the team.  Dr. Burgess is on the Helicopter Association International (HAI) Board of Directors as a UAS Special Advisor, and he currently Chairs the HAI UAS Committee. Scott is currently a member of a FAA/ASSURE grant.  

Joseph Cerreta, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Dr. Joseph Cerreta is an Assistant Professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Worldwide. He has 24 years of UAS experience as an instructor, manager, and director with UAS programs for the Department of Defense, Public Safety, and Academia.


Dr. Cerreta developed a UAS emergency management response capability with the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management, which also resulted in the National Weather Service’s use of UAS live-stream data specifically for tornado damage assessment for the first time in NWS history. He developed courses for building UAS flightcrew standardization programs for Public Safety Agencies. He is also certified as a Trusted Operator Program TM (TOP) Level 3 Remote Pilot Instructor and co-developed the TOP certification course for Embry-Riddle as the first University to obtain this certification.

Patti J. Clark, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Dr. Clark is an associate professor with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in the College of Aeronautics Graduate Department and brings more than 40 years of aviation and safety experience to the project. The experience was gained over time from working in multiple fields of the aviation industry to now developing curricula that meet the needs of the aviation and aerospace industries. As a practitioner first, then an academic, Dr. Clark is fortunate to have a perspective from both sides of the aisle to assist with identifying pragmatic solutions to aviation issues. She holds several professional certifications, including the PMI Project Management Professional (PMP), AAAE Certified Member (CM), and FAA’s Airframe and Powerplant Technician (A&P).

James P. Solti, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Dr. Jim Solti currently serves as Chair, Graduate Studies Department, College of Aeronautics, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. In this capacity, Dr. Solti oversees six Master’s degree programs and approximately 300 faculty. He hails from Cleveland, Ohio and is a 1988 Air Force Academy graduate with a background in computational mechanics. He has earned four graduate degrees and is a licensed Professional Engineer.

Joshua G. Marcham, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Josh Marcham is a pursing an undergraduate degree in Unmanned Aerial Systems from the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Daytona Beach campus.  He has performed several research projects using small unmanned aerial systems for emergency response purposes.


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