The atmosphere is his field; pioneer Renyi Zhang was honored with a Distinguished Achievement Award for Research.
Dr. Renyi Zhang, professor of Atmospheric Sciences and Chemistry, has received a Distinguished Achievement Award for Research from Texas A&M and the Association of Former Students, among the university's highest awards given to outstanding faculty, researchers and staff members.
Zhang's research has been cited as "paradigm shifting." His early research led to a better understanding of stratospheric ozone depletion and thunderstorm electrification. At Texas A&M he has made breakthroughs in the photochemical oxidation of hydrocarbons, formation, growth, and properties of aerosols, urban and regional air pollution, ambient measurements of trace gases and aerosols, and assessment of aerosol-cloud-climate interaction, work that has provided critical insights into the impacts of human activities on the environment, weather and climate.
"In my nearly 50 years working in the field of atmospheric chemistry and 10 years as a dean at Texas A&M, I would rank Dr. Renyi Zhang among the top one or two individuals I have ever come across in terms of his truly outstanding and long-term scientific research and leadership in his scientific discipline," said Dr. Robert Duce.
Others have noted that Zhang's research has a practical side as well. His work on VOCs and smog in Houston has helped in improving the city's air quality. He also made air pollution measurements in Beijing, China, during the 2008 summer Olympics, when government efforts to improve air quality for the Olympic games provided a unique opportunity to study the effects of large-scale reductions in pollution sources on overall air quality.
Dr. Kenneth Bowman, head of the Atmospheric Sciences Department, commented, "Dr. Zhang was one of our first hires when the department expanded into the important area of atmospheric chemistry. His leadership has helped create one of the top departments in the country for teaching and research on atmospheric chemistry, aerosol physics and air pollution."
He has published 145 papers in peer-referred journals (including Science, Nature Geoscience, PNAS, and Journal of the American Chemical Society). With more than 3900 literature citations, he has an h-index of 39.
Zhang is director of the Center for Atmospheric Chemistry and the Environment and holder of the Harold J. Haynes Chair in Geosciences. He chairs the American Meteorological Society's Atmospheric Chemistry Committee, is editor of the Journal of Geophysical Research – Atmospheres and is a member of the International Commission on Atmospheric Chemistry and Global Pollution. Most recently he was chair of the 2011 International Year of Chemistry Conference's Symposium on Stratospheric Ozone and Climate Change, which focused on the outcomes of the 1987 Montreal Protocol and celebrated the 1990 signing of the Clean Air Act Amendment. The American Geophysical Union has elected him a Fellow, an honor that is bestowed on only 0.1% of its membership to recognize exceptional scientific contributions to Earth and Space Sciences.
He has received honorary professorships at Fudan University and Peking University and was named an Outstanding International Collaboration Researcher by the National Natural Science Foundation of China. At Texas A&M, he has received the Bush Excellence Award for Faculty in International Research and the College of Geosciences Distinguished Achievement Award for Faculty Research.
He received his Ph.D. in atmospheric chemistry from MIT and performed post-doctoral work at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab of the California Institute of Technology.
Professor of Atmospheric Sciences and Chemistry
Director of Center for Atmospheric Chemistry and Environment
Holder of the Harold J. Haynes Chair in Geosciences