Have You Met Rutgers-Newark?

Researcher Explores the Particles in Our Atmosphere

Dr. Yuan Gao is a professor and chair in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, where she teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses and carries out research in atmospheric chemistry. In 2010-2011, she spent four months on a ship known as an icebreaker in the Southern Ocean and costal Antarctica to study the atmospheric dust and iron. Specifically, she studied the properties of atmospheric iron and its input to the ocean that may affect the growth of marine phytoplankton, and subsequent photosynthesis and carbon cycles. Currently, Gao has research equipment on another icebreaker to study atmospheric iron over the Arctic Ocean as well as in Antarctica.

Here in New Jersey, Dr. Gao studies urban air pollution on the U.S. East Coast, examining air pollutants in particles, precipitation, and gases, as well as atmospheric nitrogen deposition and their implications for coastal eutrophication (rapid increase of phytoplankton in waters). Gao uses her research to contribute to a better understanding of global climate change and interactions among the land, air, and ocean.

Gao earned her Ph.D. in oceanography at the University of Rhode Island and previously worked at the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University–New Brunswick and Princeton University. 

Gao’s teaching philosophy emphasizes the importance of practical applications of research to excite students about scientific discoveries and promote careers in science. Gao says that “the involvement of research with students is a rewarding and mutual learning process in which a teacher and students can benefit from each other.”