Stephen Schwartz, adjunct professor at Stony Brook University and a senior scientist emeritus at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory, has received the International Aerosol Research Assembly’s (IARA) 2020 International Aerosol Fellow Award. This prestigious award recognizes outstanding contributions to aerosol science and technology through research, technical development, education and service.
The aerosols Schwartz has studied for decades are tiny particles in Earth’s atmosphere. They are essential in the formation of clouds and create climate-cooling effects because they reflect energy that “pours down” from the sun back out to space. Some aerosols occur naturally, for example, haze and particles from sea spray and forest fires. Others are created from human activities, importantly from emissions created by the combustion of fossil fuels.
Understanding more about aerosols and the processes they affect is helping scientists determine the extent human activity has increased aerosol levels in the atmosphere. Scientists’ findings are also helping them recognize aerosols’ specific roles in the global energy budget — the total amounts of energy entering and exiting Earth and its atmosphere — and impacts on global and regional climates.
Aerosol research has other important applications such as determining how air pollution impairs human health and how diseases like COVID-19 spread. Aerosol research has also helped improve industrial processes and national security.
“The motivations of aerosol research have evolved in my four decades as a scientist, from air quality to acid rain to climate change,” Schwartz said. “I am most grateful to Brookhaven National Laboratory and DOE for their continued support over the years, and to IARA for this award.”