Texas A&M honors prominent geosciences researcher

Feb 28, 2014

Texas A&M University has designated Renyi Zhang, professor of atmospheric sciences, as a University Distinguished Professor, one of its highest honors. Zhang holds a joint appointment in the College of Science as professor of chemistry.

University Distinguished Professors are chosen for preeminence, seminal contributions and major impacts they have made in their fields.

Zhang’s research focuses on the fundamental mechanisms that underlie atmospheric physical and chemical processes and provides critical insight into the impact of human activity on the environment, weather and climate. 

In the letter nominating Zhang, Robert Duce, former dean of the College of Geosciences and University Distinguished Professor Emeritus of oceanography and atmospheric sciences, described Zhang’s research as producing “several groundbreaking discoveries related to the formation, growth and physical and chemical properties of atmospheric particles.” His work, Duce wrote, “has had a profound impact on our understanding of the role of atmospheric particles in cloud formation, precipitation and climate.” 

Zhang is also cited for revolutionizing research in hydrocarbon chemistry by developing analytical instruments and theoretical methodologies to investigate how these organic compounds contribute to urban and global air pollution and climate change.

Descriptions of and journal references to Zhang’s research over the years often include the terms “profound,” “pioneering,” “paradigm shift,” and “landmark.”

Zhang’s nomination included endorsements by a Nobel laureate, a U.S. National Medal of Science recipient, seven members of the National Academy of Science and National Academy of Engineering, and four foreign academy members. 

“Renyi Zhang’s contributions to aerosol-particle research will have a major influence on generations of geoscientists researchers to come,” said Kate C. Miller, dean of the College of Geosciences. “His work fully encompasses the mission of our college to advance understandings of the Earth system and apply that new knowledge for the benefit of society.”

Zhang’s scientific accomplishments include 167 articles in top-tiered interdisciplinary, atmospheric sciences and chemistry peer-reviewed journals, which have generated more than 5,500 citations. He is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, which selects for scientific eminence in break-through discoveries. He is also a member of the International Commission on Atmospheric Chemistry and Global Pollution, chairs the American Meteorological Society Committee on Atmospheric Chemistry and serves as editor for theJournal of Geophysical Research—Atmospheres and the Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences. He has received several national and international awards, including the Bush Excellence Award for Faculty in International Research and a university-level achievement award for research from the Association of Former Students.

Zhang holds the Harold J. Haynes Endowed Chair in Geosciences and is director of the Center for Atmospheric Chemistry and the Environment. His Ph.D. is from MIT. 

Zhang is one of seven professors university-wide to be honored in 2014. In addition to former dean Duce, Zhang joins geosciences distinguished professors Gerald North, professor of atmospheric sciences, and Worth Nowlin, professor emeritus of oceanography. Oceanography professor Robert O. Reid, deceased, was also a designee. 


For more information:

Texas A&M University 2014 distinguished professors

Distinguished Professor criteria and list 


 Feb. 28, 2014


Communications Manager

College of Geosciences