Department Head and Raymond J Lane Distinguished Professor, Mechanical Engineering
5000 Forbes Avenue
Scaife Hall 401
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Prior to becoming department head, Professor Allen Robinson held a joint appointment in the Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University for 14 years. His research examines the technical and policy issues related to energy and the environment. A current focus is fine particulate matter – 50,000 Americans are estimated to die prematurely each year from fine particle pollutant and almost 70 million people in the United States live in areas that violate the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for fine particle mass. Atmospheric particles also have a controlling influence on Earth’s climate and degrade visibility.
Professor Robinson joined Carnegie Mellon in 1998 after working for two years as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Combustion Research Facility at Sandia National Laboratories. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in Mechanical Engineering in 1996 and his B.S. in Civil Engineering from Stanford University in 1990. Dr. Robinson received the Ahrens Career Development Chair in Mechanical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University in 2005 and the George Tallman Ladd Outstanding Young Faculty Award from Carnegie Mellon University in 2000. He has received substantial research support from EPA, DOE, NSF, DoD, and the Allegheny County Health Department.
B.S. (Civil Engineering) 1990 Stanford University
M.S. (Mechanical Engineering) 1993 and Ph.D. (Mechanical Engineering) 1996, University of California at Berkeley
Air Quality and Particulate Matter:
A major thrust of Prof. Robinson’s research is characterizing fine particle emissions from combustion systems such as diesel engines. Laboratory experiments using dilution samplers and a smog chamber have revealed a dynamic new picture for primary organic aerosol emissions, in which these emissions evaporate, oxidize, and recondense over time. These findings require updated approaches to measure and simulate emissions from combustion systems. His group is working to implement this revised framework into chemical transport models to investigate its implications on our understanding of urban, regional and global air quality. This modeling has revealed a potentially important new source of regional oxidized and presumably hydrophilic organic aerosol. Work is ongoing to better understand the health consequences and climate effects of these pollutants.
Prof. Robinson also works on quantifying the sources of ambient air pollution, a critical step to developing effective regulations. This research integrates field measurements with receptor- and emission-based modeling to better understand sources of organic aerosol. An emerging effort utilizes highly time resolved measurements of volatile and semivolatile organic compounds in source apportionment models. His group is also conducting smog chamber studies to investigate the photochemical stability of molecular markers commonly used for source apportionment. The ultimate goal is to develop more cost-effective regulatory strategies.
Much of Prof. Robinson’s research is conducted as part of the Center for Atmospheric Particle Studies (CAPS) at Carnegie Mellon University. Strengths of the Center include the close coupling between science and policy, and extensive interplay between experiment and modeling. This interdisciplinary Center involves five core faculty members and more than 25 graduate and post-doctoral fellows in four engineering departments and the chemistry department. The Center is tightly integrated, with a large shared laboratory, weekly group seminars, and many students being co-advised by multiple faculty members.
- “Volatility of organic molecular markers used for source apportionment analysis: measurements and implications for atmospheric lifetime,” (A. A. May, R. Saleh, C. J. Hennigan, N. M. Donahue, and A. L. Robinson) Environmental Science & Technology, 46(22), 12435–12444, 2012.
- “Modeling the formation and properties of traditional and non-traditional secondary organic aerosol: problem formulation and application to aircraft exhaust,” (S. H. Jathar, M.A. Miracolo, A.A. Presto, N.M. Donahue, P.J. Adams, and A.L. Robinson) Atmospheric Chemistry & Physics, 12, 9025-9040, 2012.
- “Cloud condensation nuclei activity of fresh primary and aged biomass burning aerosol,” (G. J. Engelhart, C. J. Hennigan, M. A. Miracolo, A. L. Robinson, and S. N. Pandis) Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 12, 7285-7293, 2012.
- “Secondary organic aerosol formation from intermediate-volatility organic compounds: cyclic, linear, and branched alkanes” (D. S. Tkacik, A. A. Presto, N. M. Donahue, and A. L. Robinson) Environmental Science & Technology, 46(16), 8773–8781, 2012.
- “Particulate matter and organic vapor emissions from a helicopter engine operating on petroleum and Fischer-Tropsch fuels” (G. T. Drozd, M. A. Miracolo, A. A. Presto, E. M. Lipsky, D. D. Riemer, E. Corporan, A. L. Robinson) Energy and Fuels, 26(8), 4756–4766, 2012.
- “Volatility and Aging of Atmospheric Organic Aerosols” (N. M. Donahue, A. L. Robinson, E. R. Trump, I. Riipinen, J. H. Kroll) Topics in Current Chemistry,1-47, DOI: 10.1007/128_2012_355, 2012.
- “Fuel composition and secondary organic aerosol formation: gas-turbine exhaust and alternative aviation fuels” (M. A. Miracolo, G. T. Drozd, S. H. Jathar, A. A. Presto, E. M. Lipsky, E. Corporan, A. L. Robinson) Environmental Science & Technology, 46(15), 8493–8501, 2012.
- “Determination of volatility distributions of primary organic aerosol emissions from internal combustion engines using thermal desorption gas chromatography mass spectrometry,” (A. A. Presto, C. J. Hennigan, N. T. Nguyen, and A. L. Robinson ) Aerosol Science & Technology, 46(10), 1129-1139, 2012.
- “New particle formation and growth in biomass burning plumes: An important source of cloud condensation nuclei,” (C. J. Hennigan, D. M. Westervelt, I. Riipinen, G. J. Engelhart, T. Lee, J. L. Collett Jr., S. N. Pandis, P. J. Adams, and A. L. Robinson), Geophysical Research Letters, 39, L09805, doi:10.1029/2012GL050930, 2012.
- “A volatility basis set model for summertime secondary organic aerosols over the eastern U.S. in 2006,” (R. Ahmadov, S.A. McKeen, A.L. Robinson, R. Bahreini, A. Middlebrook, J. de Gouw, J. Meagher, E.-Y. Hsie, E. Edgerton, S. Shaw, M. Trainer) Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, 117, D06301, doi:10.1029/2011JD016831, 2012.
- “A two-dimensional volatility basis set – Part 2: Diagnostics of organic-aerosol evolution,” (N.M. Donahue, J.H. Kroll, S.N. Pandis, A.L. Robinson) Atmos. Chem. Phys., 12(2), 615-634, doi:10.5194/acp-12-615-2012, 2012.
- Combustion and Air Pollution Control (19-540, 19-740, 24-382). Senior-level introduction to control and formation of pollutants in combustion systems.
- EPP Project (19-451, 88-222, 90-720). Student-directed project course.
- Thermodynamics I (24-221). First semester undergraduate thermodynamics.
- Advanced Thermodynamics (24-721). Graduate thermodynamics. 50% continuum, 50% statistical.
- 2013 Raymond J. Lane Distinguished Professor, Carnegie Mellon University
- 2010 Carnegie Institute of Technology Outstanding Research Award
- 2009 Visiting Faculty Fellowship, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Science, University of Colorado and NOAA
- 2005 Ahrens Career Development Chair in Mechanical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University
- 2000 George Tallman Ladd Outstanding Young Faculty Award, Carnegie Mellon University