Estelle Levetin

Estelle Levetin

ProfessorChair, Department of Biological ScienceOH 304
estelle-levetin@utulsa.eduAerobiology Laboratory

The research in my laboratory is largely in the field of Aerobiology, often considered the "microbiology" of the atmosphere. Aerobiology is the study of the movement of biological particles (bioaerosols) within the atmosphere or the indoor environment. Within the field of aerobiology, my focus has been on the study of airborne allergens. I am interested in airborne fungal spores, especially those spores that have been poorly studied in outdoor environments, such as basidiospores, smut spores, ascospores, and Penicillium/Aspergillus spores. I also have an ongoing interest in conifer pollen allergens for the past 25 years. Mountain cedar (Juniperus ashei) pollen is one of the most potent allergens in the United States. Populations of mountain cedar occur in south central Oklahoma and Texas. Although none occur within 200 miles of Tulsa, my lab has presented evidence for significant concentrations of mountain cedar pollen being carried to Tulsa by prevailing southerly winds. Research in my lab has also focused on the identification of the specific allergenic proteins in mountain cedar pollen and related species of conifers.

Education and Degrees Earned

  • Ph.D. Botany, University of Rhode Island, 1971
  • B.S. Natural Science, State College Boston, 1966

Areas of Research Focus

  • Outdoor aerobiology of spores and pollen with an emphasis on the influence of wind on the long-distance transport of allergenic pollen
  • The influence of meteorological factors on the atmospheric concentration of ascospores, basidiospores and smut spores
  • Pollen forecasting
  • The effects of climate change on airborne allergens
  • Indoor fungal allergens

Previous Relevant Work Experience

  • University of Rhode Island Dept of Plant Pathology - Post-doctoral Research Associate

Professional Affiliations

  • Pan-American Aerobiology Association
  • International Association for Aerobiology
  • American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology
  • Mycological Society of America
  • Botanical Society of America
  • British Mycology Society

Courses Taught at TU

  • Environmental Microbiology (BIOL 4023/6023)
  • Fungi and Algae (BIOL 3314/6314)
  • Higher Plants (BIOL 3504/6504)
  • Medical Botany (BIOL 3623/6623)
  • Plant Anatomy (BIOL 3454/6454)
  • Plant Physiology (BIOL 3464/6464)
  • Plants and Society (BIOL 1013)

Awards & Recognition

  • Nov 2005 – Elected Fellow of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology


  • Levetin, E. 2007. Aerobiology of Agricultural Pathogens, In: Manual of Environmental Microbiology 3rd edition, American Society of Microbiology Press, pp 1031-1047.

  • Gillum, S. and E. Levetin. 2008. The Air Spora Close to a Compost Facility in Northeast Oklahoma: Part I-Spore Trap Sampling. Aerobiologia 24 (1): 3-12.

  • Van de Water, P, C.E. Main, T. Keever, and E. Levetin. 2003. An Assessment of Predictive Forecasting Juniperus ashei Pollen Movement in the Southern Great Plains. International Journal of Biometeorology 48: 74-82.

  • Levetin E and P. Van de Water. 2008. Changing Pollen Types/Concentrations/ Distribution in the United States: Fact or Fiction? Current Allergy and Asthma Reports 8: 418-424.

  • Levetin, E. and K. Dorsey. 2006. Contribution of Leaf Surface Fungi to the Air Spora. Aerobiologia, 22: 3-12.

  • Van de Water, P. and E. Levetin. 2001. The Contribution of upwind pollen sources to the characterization of Juniperus ashei phenology. Grana, 40: 133-141.

  • Newhouse, C and E. Levetin. 2004. Correlation of Environmental Factors with Asthma and Rhinitis Symptoms in Tulsa, OK. Annals of Allergy 92: 356-366.

  • Burch, M. and E. Levetin. 2002. Effect of Meteorological Conditions on Spore Plumes. International Journal of Biometeorology 46 (3): 107-117.

  • Khattab, A and E. Levetin. 2008. Effect of Sampling Height on the Concentration of Airborne Fungal Spores. Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology 101: 529-534.

  • Levetin, E., R. Shaughnessy, C.A. Rogers, and R. Scheir. 2001. Effectiveness of Germicidal UV Radiation for Reducing Fungal Contamination within Air Handling Units, Applied and Environmental Microbiology 67: 3712-3715.