• Harold J. Haynes Chair in Geosciences
  • University Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Sciences
Renyi Zhang


Dr. Renyi Zhang’s scientific endeavors have advanced the understanding of four pressing global issues: (i) air pollution, (ii) climate change, (iii) stratospheric ozone layer depletion, and (iv) the COVID-19 pandemic. In the realm of air pollution, his investigations have provided critical insights into the fundamental formation mechanisms and impacts of fine aerosols or particulate matter (PM). His groundbreaking work includes first explaining the mysterious chemistry behind the historic 1952 London Fog and contemporary severe hazes in Asia, a critical contribution to air quality improvement worldwide. His research on aerosols and their radiative forcing has far-reaching implications for climate studies and has improved the assessment of black carbon (BC)'s role in global warming. His research has transformed the understanding of aerosol-cloud interactions, their effects on climate, and the global impacts of regional air pollution, all of which are essential for addressing climate change and accurate predicting weather extremes. In addition, his work has shed light on adverse health effects associated with exposure to ultrafine particles and provided the first pivotal evidence on the airborne transmission of COVID-19, with major implications for protecting the public. His earlier research on stratospheric chemistry has been instrumental in understanding the mechanisms behind the Antarctic ozone hole formation. Dr. Zhang played a leading role in establishing a Center for Atmospheric Chemistry and Environments (CACE) and an interdisciplinary research and education program on the impacts of air pollution on human health, which have led to several funded interdisciplinary projects. Dr. Zhang has mentored an elite cadre of early career scientists, including 23 doctoral dissertations, 11 Master theses, 28 postdocs/research scientists, and 14 exchange graduate students. His graduate students have received employments in academia (e.g., a tenured associate professor at Purdue University, an assistant professor at Stanford University, an assistant professor at University of Connecticut, an endowed Professor at University of New Haven, an associate Lab Director at Florida International University, etc.), government (e.g., research scientists at NASA, NOAA, DOE, etc.), and industry (e.g., environmental scientists at Intel Corporation, Samsung, etc.). Numerous of his graduate students have achieved national/international recognitions. He is an elected Fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Meteorological Society, and American Geophysical Union. He was honored by a named symposium at the 2016 National Meeting of the American Chemical Society and received the Humboldt Research Award in 2023.

Professional Links




  • Editor, Perspectives of Earth and Space Scientists, 2019 – present
  • Guest Editor, Proceedings of National Academy of Science USA, 2019 – 2021
  • Board Director, Molina Center for Energy and the Environment, 2016 – 2022
  • Editor, Oxford Research Encyclopedia – Environmental Science, Oxford Univ. Press, 2014 – 2021
  • Editor, Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 2014 – 2018
  • Chair, Committee on Atmospheric Chemistry, American Meteorological Society (AMS), 2011 – 2015
  • Member, International Commission on Atmospheric Chemistry and Global Pollution, 2010 – 2018
  • Editor, Journal of Geophysical Research – Atmospheres, 2009 – 2013
  • Director, Center for Atmospheric Chemistry and the Environment, TAMU, 2007 – 2016
  • Professor, Department of Chemistry, TAMU, 2007 – present
  • Professor, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, TAMU, 2005 – present
  • Professor, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, TAMU, 2002 – 2005
  • Associate Professor, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, TAMU, 1997 – 2002
  • Research Scientist, Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, MIT, 1996 – 1997

Educational Background

  • Postdoc Researcher, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, 1993 – 1996
  • Ph.D. in Atmospheric Chemistry, MIT, 1994 (Advisor: Mario J. Molina, Chemistry Nobel Laurate)
  • M.S. in Physics, University of Nevada – Reno, 1989
  • B.S. in Atmospheric Physics, Nanjing Institute of Meteorology, 1983

Research Interests

  • Dr. Renyi Zhang’s research has covered a variety of areas in atmospheric, chemical, environmental, climate, and public health sciences, including (i) photochemical oxidation of hydrocarbons emitted from anthropogenic and biogenic sources; (ii) nucleation, growth, and transformation of aerosols; (iii) development of state-of-the-art instrumentation to measure trace gases and aerosols in the atmosphere; and (vi) assessments of aerosol-cloud-climate interaction and the impacts air pollution on human health.

Awards & Honors

  • Humboldt Research Award, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, 2024
  • Outstanding Career Award, College of Arts & Sciences, TAMU, 2023
  • Sigma Xi Outstanding Distinguished Scientist Award, TAMU, 2018
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2016
  • A named symposium for Renyi Zhang at American Chemical Society (ACS) National Meeting, 2016
  • Honor Award for Scientific Excellence, Division of Environmental Chemistry, ACS, 2016
  • Fellow, American Meteorological Society, 2015
  • University Distinguished Professor, TAMU, 2014 – present
  • University-Level Distinguished Achievement Award – Research, TAMU, 2012
  • Fellow, American Geophysical Union (AGU), 2012
  • Holder of Harold J. Haynes Endowed Chair in Geosciences, TAMU, 2010 – present
  • Bush Excellence Award for Faculty in International Research, TAMU, 2009
  • Distinguished Achievement Award for Faculty Research, College of Geosciences, TAMU, 2002
  • NASA New Investigator Award, 1998
  • NASA Graduate Fellowship, 1990 – 1993

Selected Publications

  • (* Denotes papers with the corresponding/senior author by R. Zhang. Denotes R. Zhang’s graduate students. Denotes highly cited paper (top 1%). Citations from Web of Science)

    (1) Johnson, N.M., A. Rodrigues-Hoffmann, J. C. Behlen, C. Lau, D. Pendleton, N. Harvey, R. Shore, Y. Li, J. Chen, Y. Tian, and R. Zhang, Air pollution and children’s health—a review of adverse effects associated with prenatal exposure from fine to ultrafine particulate matter, Environ. Health Prev. Med. 26, 72 (2021). (80 cites)

    (2)* Zhang, R., Y. Li, A.L. Zhang, Y. Wang, and M.J. Molina, Identifying airborne transmission as the dominant route for the spread of COVID-19, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 117, 14857-14863 (2020). (787 cites)

    (3)* Zhang, F., Y. Wang, J. Peng , L. Chen, Y. Sun, L. Duan, X. Ge, Y. Li, J. Zhao, C. Liu, X. Zhang, G. Zhang, Y. Pan, Y. Wang, A.L. Zhang, Y. Ji, G. Wang, M. Hu , M.J. Molina, and R. Zhang, An unexpected catalyst dominates formation and radiative forcing of regional haze, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 117, 3960-3966 (2020). (141 cites)

    (4)* Guo, S., M. Hu, J. Peng, Z. Wu, M.L. Zamora, D. Shang, Z. Du, J. Zheng, X. Fang, R. Tang , Y. Wu, L. Zeng, S. Shuai, W. Zhang, Y. Wang, Y. Ji, Y. Li, A.L. Zhang, W. Wang, F. Zhang, J. Zhao, X. Gong, C. Wang, M.J. Molina, and R. Zhang, Remarkable nucleation and growth of ultrafine particles from vehicular exhaust, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 117,  3427–3432 (2020). (129 cites)

    (5)An, Z., R.-J. Huang, R. Zhang, X. Tie, G. Li, J. Cao, W. Zhou, Z. Shi, Y. Han, Z. Gu, and Y. Ji, Severe haze in Northern China: A synergy of anthropogenic emissions and atmospheric processes, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 116, 8657–8666 (2019). (637 cites)

    (6) Lee, S.-H., H. Gordon, H. Yu, K. Lehtipalo, R. Haley, Y. Li, and R. Zhang, New Particle Formation in the Atmosphere: From Molecular Clusters to Global Climate, J. Geophys. Res. Atmos. 124, 7098-7146 (2019). (185 cites)

    (7)* Wang, G., R. Zhang, M.E. Gomez, L. Yang, M.L. Zamora, M. Hu, Y. Lin, J. Peng, S. Guo, J. Meng, J. Li, C. Cheng, T. Hu, Y. Ren, Y. Wang, J. Gao, J. Cao, Z. An, W. Zhou, G. Li, J. Wang, P. Tian, W. Marrero-Ortiz, J. Secrest, Z. Du, J. Zheng, D. Shang, L. Zeng, M. Shao, W. Wang, Y. Huang, Y. Wang, Y. Zhu, Y. Li, J. Hu, B. Pan, L. Cai, Y. Cheng, Y. Ji, F. Zhang, D. Rosenfeld, P.S. Liss, R.A. Duce, C.E. Kolb, M.J. Molina, Persistent sulfate formation from London Fog to Chinese Haze, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 113, 13630–13635 (2016). (1087 cites)

    (8)* Peng, J., M. Hu, S. Guo, Z. Du, J. Zheng, D. Shang, M.L. Zamora, L. Zeng, M. Shao, Y. Wu, J. Zheng, Y. Wang, C.R. Glen, D.R. Collins, M.J. Molina, and R. Zhang, Markedly enhanced absorption and direct radiative forcing of black carbon under polluted urban environments, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 113, 4266–4271 (2016). (453 cites)

    (9)* Zhang, R., G. Wang, S. Guo, M.L. Zamora, Q. Ying, Y. Lin, W. Wang, M. Hu, and Y. Wang, Formation of urban fine particulate matter, Chem. Rev. 115, 3803-3855 (2015). (998 cites)

    (10)* Guo, S., M. Hu, Misti L. Zamora, J. Peng, D. Shang, J. Zheng, Z. Du, Z. Wu, M. Shao, L. Zeng, M.J. Molina, R. Zhang, Elucidating severe urban haze formation in China, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 111, 17373–17378 (2014). (1404 cites)

    (11)* Wang, Y., R. Zhang, R. Saravanan, Asian pollution climatically modulates mid-latitude cyclones following hierarchical modeling and observational analysis, Nature Commun. 4, 3098, doi:10.1038/ncomms4098 (2014). (166 cites)

    (12)* Zhang, R., A.F. Khalizov, L. Wang, M. Hu, W. Xu, Nucleation and growth of nanoparticles in the atmosphere, Chem. Rev. 112, 1957-2011 (2012). (974 cites)

    (13)* Zhang, R., Getting to the critical nucleus of aerosol formation, Science 328, 1366-1367, 2010. (314 cites)

    (14)* Wang, L., A.F. Khalizov, J. Zheng, W. Xu, V. Lal, Y. Ma, and R. Zhang, Atmospheric nanoparticles formed from heterogeneous reactions of organics, Nature Geosci. 3, 238-242 (2010). (259 cites)

    (15)* Zhang, R., L. Wang, A. F. Khalizov, J. Zhao, J. Zheng, R. L. McGraw, and L. T. Molina, Formation of nanoparticles of blue haze enhanced by anthropogenic pollution, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 106 17650-17654 (2009). (238 cites)

    (16) Aiken, A. C.,  D. Salcedo, M. J. Cubison, J. A. Huffman, P. F. DeCarlo, I. M. Ulbrich, K. S. Docherty, D. Sueper, J. R. Kimmel, D. R. Worsnop, A. Trimborn, M. Northway, E. A. Stone, J. J. Schauer, R. Volkamer, E. Fortner, B. de Foy, J. Wang, A. Laskin, V. Shutthanandan, J. Zheng, R. Zhang, J. Gaffney, N. A. Marley, G. Paredes-Miranda, W. P. Arnott, L. T. Molina, G. Sosa, and J. L. Jimenez, Mexico City aerosol analysis during MILAGRO using high resolution aerosol mass spectrometry at the urban supersite (T0) – Part 1: Fine particle composition and organic source apportionment, Atmos. Chem. Phys. 9, 6633–6653 (2009). (456 cites)

    (17)* Zhang, R., G. Li, J. Fan, D.L. Wu, and M. J. Molina, Intensification of Pacific storm track linked to Asian pollution, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 104, 5295-5299 (2007). (212 cites)

    (18)* Zhang, R., A.F. Khalizov, J. Pagels, D. Zhang, H. Xue, and P.H. McMurry, Variability in morphology, hygroscopic and optical properties of soot aerosols during internal mixing in the atmosphere, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 105, 10291–10296 (2008). (678 cites).

    (19)* Zhang, R., I. Suh, J. Zhao, D. Zhang, E.C. Fortner, X. Tie, L.T. Molina, and M.J. Molina, Atmospheric new particle formation enhanced by organic acids, Science 304, 1487-1490 (2004). (727 cites)

    (20) Molina, M.J., R. Zhang, P.J. Wooldridge, J.E. Kim, J.R. McMahon, H.Y. Chang, and K.D. Beyer, Physical chemistry of the H2SO4/HNO3/H2O system: Implications for the formation of polar stratospheric clouds, Science 261, 1418-1423 (1993). (233 cites)


    Statistics for Renyi Zhang’s Publications**                         

    Journal Impact Factor     # of Published Papers
    Chemical Reviews 62.1 2
    Science 56.9 3
    Nature Climate Change 30.7 1
    Nature Geoscience 18.3 1
    Nature Communications 16.6 1
    Journal of the American Chemical Society 15.0 6
    Environmental Science & Technology 11.4 20
    Proceedings of National Academy of Science USA     11.1 22
    Thorax 10.0 1
    Science of the Total Environment 9.8 1
    Chemosphere 8.8 1
    Environmental Research 8.3 2
    Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 8.0 1
    Analytical Chemistry 7.4 2
    Antioxidants 7.0 2
    Journal of Environmental Sciences 6.9 1
    Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems 6.8 1
    Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 6.3 29
    Environmental Science and Pollution Research 5.8 1
    Advances in Atmospheric Sciences 5.8 2
    Science – China 5.7 1
    Atmospheric Research 5.5 1
    Geophysical Research Letters 5.2 13
    Aerosol Science & Technology 5.2 2
    Atmospheric Environment 5.0 15
    Journal of Climate 4.9 1
    Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine 4.7 1
    Journal of Aerosol Science 4.5 1
    Journal of Geophysical Research - Atmospheres 4.4 37
    Journal of Chemical Physics 4.4 8
    Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology 4.3 1
    Aerosol and Air Quality Research 4.0 1
    Toxicological Sciences 3.8 1
    ACS Earth and Space Chemistry 3.4 1
    Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics 3.3 3
    Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences 3.1 2
    Journal of Physical Chemistry A 2.9 27
    Chemical Physics Letters 2.8 9
    Tellus 2.4 2
    Environmental Chemistry 2.3 1
    Journal of Atmospheric Chemistry 2.0 1
    International Journal of Mass Spectrometry 1.8 1
    Journal of Applied Meteorology 1.7 2
    Review of Scientific Instruments 1.6 1
    Advances in Quantum Chemistry 1.0