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Dr. John H. Seinfeld Delivers 2016 Jeanne and Martin Sussman Endowed Lecture

On Wednesday, April 27, 2016 Dr. John H. Seinfeld, Louis E. Nohl Professor and Professor of Chemical Engineering at California Institute of Technology, presented the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department's Jeanne and Martin Sussman Lecture.

Dr. Seinfeld’s presentation was entitled Atmospheric Chemistry, Aerosols, and Climate Abstract. The chemistry and physics of the atmosphere is critical in processes ranging from urban air pollution to climate change. Particles in the air play an important role in a vast array of atmospheric processes, from cloud formation to radiative transfer, to sinks for atmospheric vapors. Organic substances that arise from sources as diverse as motor vehicle exhaust, vegetation, and biomass burning constitute much of the mass of airborne particles. We will explore the current state of atmospheric chemistry, aerosols, and their roles in air pollution and climate.

About Dr. Seinfeld
John H. Seinfeld, is the Louis E. Nohl Professor and Professor of Chemical Engineering at California Institute of Technology. He is an expert in the causes and modeling of tropospheric pollution. He joined Caltech as Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering in 1967 and shortly thereafter, he became intrigued with Los Angeles's historic smog, which, at that time, was near record highs. Caltech biology professor Ari Haagen-Smit had, in the early 1950s, surmised that ozone, the principal gaseous component of smog, results from reactions involving volatile hydrocarbons and oxides of nitrogen (NOx). Seinfeld realized that modeling the formation of smog over an urban area like Los Angeles would involve describing mathematically the three-dimensional transport, mixing, and chemical reactions in the atmosphere. A key component was describing the chemistry of the sunlight-driven hydrocarbon - NOx system. At the time of Haagen-Smit's classic papers, the actual mechanism of the underlying chemistry was unknown. The essential role of the hydroxyl (OH) radical in tropospheric chemistry was not established until about 1970.

Seinfeld and his group formulated a chemical mechanism for ozone formation and in 1973 developed the first urban-scale atmospheric chemical-transport model, which was applied to the Los Angeles basin. This work, published in three papers in the journal, Atmospheric Environment, initiated what emerged as an entire field of scientific endeavor devoted to the modeling of tropospheric pollution. Although he continued to conduct research on optimization for several years, in the early 1970s he formed a major research group on atmospheric chemistry, aerosols, and atmospheric modeling. In 2012, he received Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement for his contributions to the understanding of the origin, chemistry and evolution of aerosols in the atmosphere that provided a basis for actions to control the effect of air pollution upon public health.

About The Jeanne and Martin Sussman Endowed Lecture:
Martin Victor Sussman grew up in New York City, entering high school at age 12. At 19, he received an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from the City College of New York. He earned a doctorate in chemical engineering from Columbia University. He was a Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and American Institute of Chemists, and was a registered Professional Engineer in Massachusetts. He was a gentleman, an inventor, and a scholar who planted seeds of technical knowledge around the world.

Professor Emeritus Sussman was a member of the Department of Chemical Engineering at Tufts University for 37 years. He taught thermodynamics to generations of Tufts engineering students, and captivated liberal arts majors with his lectures on the interaction of culture and technology. The Tufts community was deeply saddened by his passing on April 13, 2005.