Ryan Sullivan is a professor in the Departments of Chemistry and Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. He is also a faculty member in the Centre for Atmospheric Particle Studies. Sullivan has a background in atmospheric and analytical chemistry, single-particle analysis, heterogeneous kinetics, and cloud nucleation research. His research interests include the development of improved aircraft-deployable analytical instrumentation to characterize individual particles in the atmosphere in real-time. These instruments are used to investigate the physicochemical properties of atmospheric particles emitted and produced from a variety of sources, the chemical processes they experience during atmospheric transport, and how these processes modify the ability of particles to nucleate both cloud droplets and ice crystals, thus altering cloud properties and the Earth’s climate. These research endeavors involve equal parts instrument development, laboratory experiments, and field measurements.
Studying Atmospheric Particles Using Aerosol Optical Tweezers
Understanding Climate Change Through Clouds
2008 Ph.D., Chemistry, University of California, San Diego
2006 MS, Chemistry, University of California, San Diego
2002 BS, Chemistry, University of Toronto
- aerosol-cloud interactions
- air quality
- atmospheric particle studies
- environmental engineering
- environmental systems
- heterogeneous chemistry
- instruments & instrumentation
- mass spectrometry
- mechanical engineering
- microfluidic systems
- optical tweezers
- phase transitions
- water treatment
Making environmental science accessible to all students
New Mechanical Engineering course dives into the connections between Earth’s water, air, land, and life.
National Science Foundation
Sullivan’s research on wildfires featured
MechE/Chemistry’s Ryan Sullivan’s research on wildfires and cloud formation was featured on the National Science Foundation’s The Discovery Files radio feature.
Wildfires, clouds, and climate change
As the frequency and size of wildfires increases worldwide, research shows how the chemical aging of particles emitted by these fires can lead to more extensive cloud formation and intense storm development in the atmosphere.
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.
Jen and Sullivan quoted on wildfires
ChemE’s Coty Jen and MechE’s Ryan Sullivan were quoted in Salon about their experiences with wildfires in California.
Wildfires produce minerals that freeze clouds
Why do some biomass fuels create ice nucleating particles when they combust while others do not? Researchers at the Center for Atmospheric Particle Studies make an unexpected discovery.
Shared Air Podcast
Jen and Sullivan quoted on coronavirus
ChemE’s Coty Jen and MechE’s Ryan Sullivan appeared on MechE’s Albert Presto’s podcast, Shared Air, on the role of masks in the coronavirus pandemic.
Engineering ways to keep doctors safe from COVID-19
When Allegheny Health Network and Magee Plastics needed help perfecting their simple intubation boxes, they turned to Carnegie Mellon engineers Ryan Sullivan and Coty Jen.
Royal Society of Chemistry
Sullivan paper named among RSC Best of 2019
MechE’s Ryan Sullivan and collaborators at the University of Washington had a research paper named among the Best Papers 2019 - Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts by the Royal Society of Chemistry.
Engineering faculty win Carnegie Science Awards
Carmel Majidi and Ryan Sullivan have won Carnegie Science Awards from the Carnegie Science Center for their incredible contributions to science.
Evolution in the air
Two new studies show how aerosol optical tweezing can allow scientists to scrutinize the components of the atmosphere with new precision.
Sullivan on the FutureTech Health podcast
MechE’s Ryan Sullivan spoke on the FutureTech Health podcast, and discussed his focus in atmospheric chemistry to understand chemical reactions and transformations with pollutants and natural particles in the air.