Aaron Specht headshot photo

Pronouns: he/him

Phone: 765-496-0770


Hampton Building Room 1273
550 Stadium Mall Drive
West Lafayette, IN 47907

Curriculum Vitae Back to Directory

Aaron Specht

Assistant Professor, School of Health Sciences

Areas of Expertise

  • Exposure assessment in environmental health studies
  • X-ray fluorescence development and elemental quantification
  • Radiation safety in development of nuclear devices

HHS Signature Research Area(s)

  • Developmental Health and Wellness
  • Healthy Lifestyles and Vital Longevity
  • Sustainable Organizations and Thriving Communities

School of Health Sciences Research Area(s)

  • Health Physics (Radiation Protection)
  • Imaging Sciences
  • Medical Physics


Dr. Aaron Specht is an Assistant Professor in the School of Health Sciences. He received his B.S. from Purdue in Honors Physics and Ph.D. from Purdue in Medical and Health Physics. He completed postdoctoral training at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health where he remains active as part of their Trace Metals Laboratory utilizing his x-ray fluorescence devices. His research focuses on the development, application, and understanding of exposure assessment for elemental and radiation exposures in environmental and occupational health studies. He has developed instrumentation capable of in-field or in-lab measures that utilize a non-destructive, non-invasive, and cost-effective elemental quantification method using x-ray fluorescence. This includes everything from measuring nail, bone, or blood to determine exposure to a human or in animal studies to measuring soil, ash, or air filters to determine ongoing exposures at particular sites. He has many interesting collaborative projects ranging from typical studies in hospital settings around the globe to measuring condors on the cliffs of the Grand Canyon. Feel free to email him with any questions, lab opportunities, or collaborative efforts.


  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 2019
  • PhD Medical Physics, Purdue University, 2016
  • BS Physics, Purdue University, 2012


Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

  • Member - School of Health Sciences DEI Taskforce

Current Courses

  • HSCI 590 - Envir Health Physics Research

Selected Publications

  • AJ Specht*, X Zhang, A Young, VT Nguyen, DC Christiani, DM Ceballos, JG Allen, J Weueve, LH Nie, MG Weisskopf. Validation of in vivo toenail measurements of manganese and mercury using a portable x-ray fluorescence device. Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology. 2021.
  • AJ Specht*, JF Obrycki, Maitreyi Mazumdar, MG Weisskopf. Feasibility of lead exposure assessment in blood spots using energy dispersive x-ray fluorescence. Environmental Science & Technology. 2021, 55, 8, 5050–5055.
  • C Hoover, GG Hoover, AJ Specht*. Firearm Licenses Associated with Elevated Pediatric Blood Lead Levels in Massachusetts. Environmental Research. 2021; 202:11642.
  • Bhatia M, Specht AJ*, Ramya V, Sulaiman D, Konda M, Balcom P, Sunderland E, Qureshi A. Portable XRF as a rapid determination tool to detect mg/kg (ppm) levels of heavy metals (Ni, Zn, As, Se and Pb) in human nails: a case study from South India. Environmental Science and Technology. 2021, 55, 19, 13113–13121
  • Zhang X, Specht AJ, Nie LH. Evaluation of a portable XRF device for in vivo quantification of lead in bone among a US population. Science of the Total Environment. 2021; 753;142351.

Selected Honors/Awards

  • NIOSH Mentored Research Scientist Development Award - 2019
  • International Society of Exposure Science Presentation Award - 2014
  • Society of Toxicology Travel Award - 2015
  • Ross Fellowship - 2012
  • Spira Research Award - 2011

Selected Grants

  • PI, A novel portable KXRF measurement system for in vivo metal measurements National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (K01OH011648). Aaron Specht (PI). Period 09/2019-08/2023. Total $311,234
  • Co-PI, Combat-Ready Exposure Device (CRED): Validation of a Portable Exposure Biomarker Device for Lead and Other Heavy Metal Exposures (DoD CRMP 12971061). Kathryn Taylor (PI). Period 09/2020 - 08/2023. Total $982,325

Professional Affiliations

  • Health Physics Society
  • International Society of Environmental Epidemiology
  • International Society of Trace Elements in Humans
  • Society of Toxicology
  • International Society for Exposure Science

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