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LEWISBURG, Pa. -- Many people ponder the clouds. Tim Raymond studies them. More specifically, he studies the tiny particles in the air, called aerosols, that determine when and how clouds form.
With applications ranging from modeling climate change to designing pharmaceuticals to understanding the health effects of pollution, his research has far reaching implications. "Trying to study this thing on the nanoscale is really trying to help the world on a global scale," he said.
Raymond, an assistant professor of chemical engineering and a 1997 Bucknell graduate, was recently granted a 5-year, $520,000 National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Award to study aerosol-water interactions in the atmosphere. NSF grants the prestigious awards to support faculty who excel at integrating teaching and research.
Raymond plans to use the grant to buy several new pieces of equipment that will greatly expand his research capabilities. One piece, called a cloud condensation nucleus chamber, will allow him to create clouds in the laboratory. Only a few dozen such machines exist worldwide.
Clouds are a major driving force of climate, so understanding how and when they form is vital for creating accurate models of climate change. By studying the airborne particles crucial for cloud formation, Raymond's work will inform and improve those models.
Pharmaceutical companies also need to know how aerosols, in the form of drugs that can be inhaled, will interact with water vapor in the respiratory tract. Larger particles might be caught in the mouth and nose, while smaller particles could travel all the way to the smallest sections of the lungs.
The ability of the smallest aerosols to travel deep into the lungs causes air pollution-related health problems. Long attributed to asthma attacks, researchers now realize that the increases in death rates on high pollution days are caused by particles getting into the lungs and passing into the bloodstream.
Becoming a Bucknell professor was a dream for Raymond. With two parents, two uncles and a cousin who attended the university, he grew up going to Bucknell football, soccer and basketball games. After earning his degree here in chemical engineering, he left only long enough to complete a Ph.D. at Carnegie-MellonUniversity.
"When I was an undergrad at Bucknell, I told my friends that someday I'm going to come back here and I'm going to teach," he said.
Teaching and research
Raymond's recent NSF award recognizes his dedication to both teaching and research.
Contact: Office of Communications
Posted Feb. 29, 2008