Chemical engineers have the tools to advance science and solutions in the areas of climate change and environmental systems. The Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering has a world-class research program in the science and engineering of air pollution, links between climate and air pollution, remote sensing and simulation of aerosol pollution, aerosol-cloud interactions, and pollution-weather interactions.  Our atmospheric environmental research activities span many scales – from liter-sized atmospheric chemistry and cloud experiments in the lab, to field campaigns and simulations at the urban/regional scale, all the way up to global scale models and satellite remote sensing. The department has in-house expertise to run and improve a wide range of Earth system models from GEOS-Chem at global scale to WRF-Chem and WRF-CMAQ at the regional scale to the GEOS-Chem adjoint and WRF-CMAQ adjoint for the inverse modeling.  In 2021, we inaugurated the Climate/Atmospheric Science and Engineering (CASE) Colloquium

Novel contributions from Iowa researchers have focused on integrating of satellite data and field campaign data with models (including data assimilation) and novel development of satellite algorithms for air quality monitoring and aerosol forcing studies. Recent and ongoing projects include the development of WRF-Chem model with an unified model initial and boundary conditions for the NASA’s MAIA mission, application of satellite data for inverse modeling enabling rapid update of anthropogenic emissions, ozone air quality management in the Lake Michigan region, aerosol and ozone formation from personal care product oxidation, improvements to parameterizations for injection of fires into simulations aerosol/cloud microphysics parameterization, irrigation schemes, soil NOx emission schemes, and more. 

Many of our simulations and data assimilation systems rely on the Iowa High Performance Computing Center, a home grown resource with over 10,000 compute nodes. The HPC has over 1 petabyte of total storage and 150+ TB of storage with priority availability to CBE researchers. Research is facilitated by several research centers, including the Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, IIHR Hydroscience and Engineering, and the Iowa Technology Institute. Rich interdisciplinary connections thrive in air quality and climate research at Iowa, with collaborators in College of Public Health, the College of Medicine, the School of Planning and Public Affairs, and in the Departments of Chemistry, Physics, Earth and Environmental Science, and Geographical and Sustainability Studies.  


Gregory Carmichael, Karl Kammermeyer Professor of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering

Current Research

Development and application of chemical transport models (CTM) to studies in regional atmospheric chemistry, air quality, and climate.

Gregory Carmichael
Photo of Matthew McGill with an airfield in the background

Current Research

Aerosol, cloud, and air quality studies with emphasis on lidar remote sensing; airborne and spaceborne instrument development; radiative transfer.

Matthew McGill
Charles Stanier, Professor of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering

Current Research

Aerosol and gas-phase research applications in air pollution, climate science, and energy.

Charles Stanier
Betsy Stone, Professor of Chemistry

Current Research

Combines analytical, environmental, and organic chemistry to advance understanding of the chemical composition and sources of atmospheric particulate matter.

Betsy Stone
Jun Wang, Professor of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering

Current Research

Satellite remote sensing and Earth system modeling, focusing on aerosols, radiative transfer, fires, air-land interaction, air quality, and climate.

Jun Wang
Jing Zeng, Associate Professor of Instruction in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering

Current Research

Mesoscale numerical and radiative transfer modeling, satellite remote sensing of aerosol and cloud, aerosol climate forcing and aerosol property retrieval using polarization, and land surface modeling of precipitation, soil moisture, and radiation.

Jing Zeng