Carnegie Mellon University
September 12, 2022

Donahue Earns ACS Award for Creative Research

By Heidi Opdyke

Jocelyn Duffy
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The American Chemical Society (ACS) has selected Neil Donahue as the recipient of the 2023 ACS Award for Creative Advances in Environmental Science & Technology, which recognizes creativity in research and technology or methods of analysis to provide a scientific basis for informed environmental control decision-making processes.

Donahue is being recognized for developing the "Volatility Basis Set," which has become one of the main tools to understand and describe the chemistry and physics of organic aerosols in the atmosphere.

"The VBS came out of collaboration between experimental and modeling colleagues across CMU — Allen Robinson in mechanical engineering, Spyros Pandis in chemical engineering, and Peter Adams in civil and environmental engineering as well as Engineering and Public Policy, said Donahue, the Thomas Lord Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Chemical Engineering and Engineering and Public Policy.

"Their really different perspectives stirred the pot, and the VBS emerged in large part from me trying to understand it all. The award is a huge honor, and it is a real testament to the power of collaborative research."

Donahue directs the Steinbrenner Institute for Environmental Education and Research. He seeks to understand how Earth's atmosphere works, and how humans affect the atmosphere. Donahue's research examines the behavior of organic compounds in Earth's atmosphere, studying what happens to compounds from both natural sources and human activity when they are emitted into the atmosphere. Recently, his research has focused on the origin and transformations of very small organic particles, which play a critical role in climate change and human health.

Donahue will be honored at the ACS award ceremony March 28, 2023, in Indianapolis.