Carnegie Mellon University

Research Highlights

Atmospheric aerosols play a critical role in climate, air quality and human health. Nucleation, the formation of stable particles from trace amounts of precursor vapors produces ~50% of the global number of seed particles for cloud formation around the world. Though aerosols play an important role in climate change, the mechanisms behind aerosol particle formation in the atmosphere are still not well understood. In our group, we examine the extend to which various biogenic and anthropogenic pollutants influence atmospheric nucleation which is critical to understanding changes in our earth's climate.
Biomass burning is a significant problem in many parts of the world. During biomass burning events, many particles are directly emmitted into the atmosphere with potential long term adverse effects on climate and human health. Our group is developing methods to understand how forest management techniques could be implemented to lessen the impact of emmisions from biomass burning events.

Increased organic nitrogen, such as amino acids and amides, in aerosol particles and their subsequent deposition into the environment perturbs the global nitrogen cycle. Changes in the nitrogen cycles has been linked to ocean acidification, forest decline, and increase in vector-born human illness. We are exploring the sources of organic nitrogen compounds in atmosphere and studying their subsequent reactions with other atmospherically relevant compounds in order to better understand the the impacts of increased organic nitrogen deposition on the environment.

The Jen Research Lab is part of the Center for Atmospheric Particle Studies (CAPS) at Carnegie Mellon University which focuses on developing a holistic approach to characterize atmospheric nanoparticles. We examine the life cycle of aerosol particles in the atmosphere and how these particles ultimately affect air quality and the environment. Specifically, we research how gaseous compounds emitted from various sources react to form and grow aerosol particles in the atmosphere. Thus, we study particle growth pathways and develop models for aerosol particles in the atmosphere, and specialize in the design of nanoparticle sizers, counters, and chemical speciators. 

We are currently recruiting undergrad, masters, and PhD students. Graduate students must apply through the Chemical Engineering Department.