Carnegie Mellon University
April 05, 2017

Atmospheric Chemist Neil Donahue Wins Esselen Award for Contributing to the Public Good

Neil Donahue

By Jocelyn Duffy

Neil M. Donahue, the Thomas Lord Professor of Chemistry, professor of chemical engineering and engineering and public policy, and director of Carnegie Mellon University’s Steinbrenner Institute for Environmental Education and Research, has been named the winner of the 2017 Gustavus John Esselen Award for Chemistry in the Public Interest.

Given by the Northeastern Section of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the Esselen Award recognizes a chemist whose scientific and technical work has contributed to the public well-being and its value to society has become apparent within the last five years. The award is named after Gustavus John Esselen, who was a distinguished member of the ACS’s Northeastern Section.

An internationally renowned expert in atmospheric chemistry and air-quality engineering, Donahue investigates how organic compounds behave and evolve in the atmosphere. His research stands to provide a better understanding of how airborne particles affect the environment and human health.

Donahue is dedicated to applying his expertise to air quality issues, especially in Pittsburgh. He has worked with the Allegheny County Health Department to redesign its air toxics policy and with the City of Pittsburgh on its climate action plan. Donahue also serves as a volunteer Science and Engineering Ambassador for the National Academies, facilitating public discourse on energy through a pilot program for the Pittsburgh community.

At Carnegie Mellon, Donahue is involved with the Center for Air, Climate, and Energy Solutions, a collaborative research center created through a partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency. Through the center, Donahue is modeling particulate matter at multiple spatial scales in Pittsburgh, Houston and Los Angeles. He is founding director of the university’s Center for Atmospheric Particle Studies.

Donahue is extremely active in the community of atmospheric science and air-quality researchers. He is one of the most cited scientists in the field of geosciences. He was named to Thomson-Reuters and Clarivate Analytics’ list of “highly-cited researchers” for the past three years. Donahue is an associate editor of the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres and co-editor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. He served on the board of directors of the American Association for Aerosol Research and as local section chair of the American Chemical Society. He is a fellow of the American Geophysical Union.

Donahue received his bachelor's degree in physics in 1984 from Brown University, and a Ph.D. in meteorology and atmospheric chemistry in 1991 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He joined the Carnegie Mellon faculty in 2000.

Donahue will receive the award and deliver an address on April 27 at the meeting of the ACS Northeastern Section in Cambridge, Mass.