Albert Presto-Mechanical Engineering - Carnegie Mellon University

Albert Presto

Assistant Research Professor, Mechanical Engineering

5000 Forbes Avenue
Scaife Hall 315 and Doherty Hall 2115
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Phone: 412-721-5203


Dr. Albert Presto is an Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, beginning in July 2012. He is also a member of CMU's Center for Atmospheric Particle Studies (CAPS). Dr. Presto joined the department after two years as a post-doctoral fellow at the National Energy Technology Laboratory and five years as Laboratory Manager and Research Scientist in CAPS.

Dr. Presto's research focuses on pollutant emissions from energy extraction and consumption and the subsequent atmospheric transformations that these emissions undergo. Energy consumption is a major source of pollutants to the atmosphere. Cars and trucks operating on gasoline and diesel fuels emit carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter. Particulate matter from mobile sources is largely the result of incomplete or inefficient combustion in the form of organic aerosol and black carbon. In addition to the direct emissions of pollutants, dilute exhaust undergoes oxidation in the atmosphere. This oxidation chemistry can lead to the production of secondary pollutants, such as ozone and secondary particulate matter.

Dr. Presto investigates the contributions of primary and secondary pollution with ambient measurements, laboratory experiments, source testing of pollution sources, and atmospheric models. This multi-pronged and multi-disciplinary approach allows for a holistic view of pollutant emissions and transformations in the atmosphere.

In addition to having environmental impacts, these pollutants, particularly ozone and particulate matter, adversely impact human health. Dr. Presto is collaborating with medical professionals to develop detailed studies of pollutant exposure on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis, and to better understand the relationships between pollutant emissions and adverse health effects such as childhood asthma.

Related News

Carnegie Mellon study finds methane emissions from conventional natural gas sites surpass emissions from hydraulic fracking sites

Presto awarded Carnegie Science Center Environmental Award for his work mapping pollutant concentrations in Pittsburgh

Presto discusses Shenango Coke plant closing on Essential Pittsburgh

Presto receives $600K NSF grant for organic aerosol research

Presto named to 40 Under 40 by Pittsburgh Magazine

Presto sheds light on air quality in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


B.S. 2001, Chemical Engineering, Cornell University
Ph.D. 2005, Chemical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University


Full publication list:

  • Ranjan, M.; Presto, A.A.; May, A.A.; Robinson, A.L. Temperature dependence of gas-particle partitioning of primary organic aerosol emissions from a small diesel engine, Aerosol Sci. Technol., 2012, 46, 13-21.
  •  Hennigan, C.J.; Miracolo, M.A.; Engelhart, G.J.; May, A.A.; Presto, A.A.; Lee, T.; Sullivan, A.P.; McMeeking, G.R.; Coe, H.; Wold, C.E.; Hao, W.M.; Gilman, J.B.; Kuster, W.C.; de Gouw, J.; Schichtel, B.A.; Collett, J.L.; Kreidenweis, S.M.; Robinson, A.L. Chemical and physical transformations of organic aerosol from the photo-oxidation of open biomass burning emissions in an environmental chamber, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 2011, 11, 7669-7686.
  • Miracolo, M.A.; Hennigan, C.J.; Ranjan, M.; Nguyen, N.T.; Gordon, T.D.; Lipsky, E.M.; Presto, A.A.; Robinson, A.L. Secondary aerosol formation from photochemical aging of aircraft exhaust in a smog chamber, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 2011, 11, 4135-4147.
  • Presto, A.A.; Nguyen, N.T.; Ranjan, M.; Reeder, A.J.; Lipsky, E.M.; Hennigan, C.J.; Miracolo, M.A.; Riemer, D.D.; Robinson, A.L. Fine particle and organic vapor emissions from staged tests of an in-use aircraft engine, Atmos. Environ., 2011, 45, 3603-3612.
  • Presto, A.A.; Miracolo, M.A.; Donahue, N.M.; Robinson, A.L. Secondary organic aerosol formation from high-NOx photo-oxidation of low volatility precursors: n-alkanes, Environ. Sci. Technol., 2010, 44, 2029-2034.
  • Miracolo, M.A.; Presto A.A.; Lambe, A.T.; Hennigan, C.J.; Donahue, N.M.; Kroll, J.H.; Worsnop, D.R.; Robinson, A.L. Photo-oxidation of low-volatility organics found in motor vehicle emissions: production and chemical evolution of organic aerosol mass, Environ. Sci. Technol., 2010, 44, 1638-1643.
  • Presto, A.A.; Miracolo, M.A.; Kroll, J.H.; Worsnop, D.R.; Robinson, A.L.; Donahue, N.M. Intermediate volatility organic compounds: A potential source of ambient oxygenated organic aerosol, Environ. Sci. Technol., 2009, 43, 4744-4749.

Professional Associations

American Association for Aerosol Research, American Chemical Society, American Geophysical Union