Neil Donahue is a professor in the Departments of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, and Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University. He also directs the Steinbrenner Institute for Environmental Education and Research. He seeks to understand how Earth’s atmosphere works, and how humans affect the atmosphere. One of his objectives is to help all graduating Carnegie Mellon students understand the climate problem and to apply their outstanding problem solving skills to solutions of this enormous challenge. He is a member of numerous professional societies, a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, and an editor with several academic journals.
Donahue’s research group focuses on the behavior of organic compounds in Earth’s atmosphere. They are world experts in 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. Particles scatter light, influence clouds, and kill roughly 50,000 people each year in the US, mostly of heart attacks.
Donahue’s father taught physics at Pitt, and Donahue received a B.S. in Physics from Brown University in 1985. He received a Ph.D. in meteorology from MIT in 1991, and spent nine years as a research scientist at Harvard before returning to Pittsburgh in 2000. He lives with his wife Maren Cooke and daughters Kielan and Innes in Squirrel Hill. They have three kW of photovoltaic solar panels on their roof. Donhaue is also an avid road cyclist; you may find him on one hill or another around town.
Clouds Are the Clue to Climate Predictions
Organics & Atmospheric Aerosols
1991 Ph.D., Meteorology and Atmospheric Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
1984 BA, Physics, Brown University
Donahue featured on smog
ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue was featured on a Nature podcast and in C&EN on atmospheric smog.
Researchers Discover Rapid Mechanism for Atmospheric Particle Formation
An international team of researchers have discovered a previously unknown mechanism that allows atmospheric particles to very rapidly form under certain conditions. The research, published in Nature, could aid efforts to model climate change and reduce particle pollution in cities.
Earth and Space Science News
Donahue will give lectures at AAAR and AGU
ChemE/EPP Neil Donahue has been selected to give lectures at the 2019 American Association for Aerosol Research (AAAR) and the American Geophysical Union (AGU) meetings.
The Associated Press
Donahue comments on U.S. air quality and environmental regulations
EPP/ChemE’s Neil Donahue was recently quoted by The Associated Press in an article concerning U.S. air quality and changes in environmental policies.
Donahue on recent slip in U.S. air quality
ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue was quoted by the Associated Press about the recent slip in U.S. air quality after decades of steady improvement. This is due to a variety of factors, both natural and manmade. With the Trump administration’s pending policy on emissions that will likely loosen regulations, Donahue believes that U.S. air quality will only continue to deteriorate.
Donahue elevated to University Professors
ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue was among the Carnegie Mellon faculty recently elevated to the rank of University Professor, the highest distinction a faculty member can achieve.
Donahue on the Green New Deal
In an opinion piece for The Hill, ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue writes that the recently introduced Green New Deal is viable and necessary to combat current environmental issues in the U.S. He argues for several measures, including an electric system and carbon tax, and emphasizes the importance of communication between partisan lawmakers.
Donahue analyzes costs of repealing fuel efficiency mandate
ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue spoke with Forbes about the potentially detrimental effects of the White House’s decision to repeal the Obama administration’s automaker mandate to increase fuel efficiency standards by one mile per gallon every year through 2025.
The College of Engineering faculty award winners announced
The College of Engineering has named this year’s faculty award winners, selected by the College of Engineering Faculty Awards Committee. Congratulations to the winners.
Donahue predicts changes to Pittsburgh climate
ChemE’s Neil Donahue spoke with WESA on how climate change will affect the future of Pittsburgh.
Donahue offers different perspective on China’s giant air cleaners
ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue is curious whether the benefits of China’s new giant air cleaners—solar-powered filters that remove noxious particles from the air—outweigh the environmental damage they could cause.