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.

2116 Doherty Hall
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Neil Donahue

Clouds Are the Clue to Climate Predictions

Organics & Atmospheric Aerosols

Media mentions

CMU Engineering

Discovery uncovers need for ammonia emission regulations

A new discovery sheds light on one way new particles are forming in the upper troposphere. Published in Nature, the study’s findings suggest that in addition to carbon dioxide, there are other compounds in need of immediate attention and regulation.

Carnegie Mellon University

Engineering faculty quoted on climate policy

ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue, EPP’s Valerie Karplus, CEE/EPP’s Destenie Nock, CEE/EPP’s Costa Samaras, MechE’s Ryan Sullivan, and the Scott Institute’s Anna Siefken were quoted on President Biden’s climate policy.

Web of Science

Donahue named highly cited researcher

ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue was listed as one of Web of Science’s Highly Cited Researchers in the field of Geosciences in the 2020 rankings.

Donahue is founding editor in chief of Environmental Science: Atmospheres

ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue is the founding editor in chief of Environmental Science: Atmospheres, a gold open access journal committed to bringing the wider environmental science and climate change communities together in a fresh, open approach.

KDKA CBS Pittsburgh

Donahue quoted on COVID-19 spread

ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue was quoted in KDKA on coronavirus spread. There is evidence for inside transmission.

Multiple Sources

Donahue featured on smog

ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue was featured on a Nature podcast and in C&EN on atmospheric smog.

Chemical Engineering

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.

Associated Press

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.

CMU News

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.

The Hill

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.