Chong Qiu, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of New Haven, earned a National Science Foundation’s Early Career Award for his groundbreaking research on aerosols.

According to a release from the university, his award includes a five-year, almost $700,000 grant to advance his research that has the potential to shape an understanding of the impact of air quality on human health, weather forecasting, and climate change.

Qiu’s research investigates chemicals, such as amines- nitrogen-containing organic compounds that are derived from ammonia. This chemical was previously thought to have no significant impact on the atmosphere. 

“We recently discovered that reactions of amines play an important role in the formation and transformation of atmospheric aerosols. We need to understand how the presence of amines in the particle phase affect aerosol properties,” Qiu said in a press release. 

For the past two years, Qiu has worked with undergraduate and graduate students on this research. Members of his research team have also visited high schools and middle schools to teach students how to collect micrometeorites from rainwater using tools designed from plumbing parts.

Qiu’s research program will feature guest lectures regarding atmospheric chemistry, a summer academy for high school students in the region, and the development of a K-12 STEM pipeline. He is collaborating with Joseph Levert, a University of New Haven associate professor specializing in mechanical engineering.

Qiu developed a five-year plan in which each year a team of engineering majors will continue the development of the project’s instrumentation as part of their senior project.

“We need to continue to encourage talented students to pursue STEM fields.” Qiu said. “And I hope we can galvanize support for science and discovery.”