August 23, 2021

National Science Foundation's awards to Wayne State to impact air quality

DETROIT – A Wayne State University researcher recently received confirmation for funding of two grants from the National Science Foundation that will help protect the air we breathe and other aspects of our environment.

Yaoxian Huang, Ph.D., assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering, was awarded $332,689 for the three-year research study, “Improving Chemical Mechanisms of Reactive Nitrogen from Snowpack and Transportation in a Global Chemical Transport Model.” This project (NSF-2111428) will improve understanding of the chemical mechanisms of reactive nitrogen from snowpack, gasoline and diesel sectors, all of which can have a harmful impact on the environment. Huang and his research team will deliver open-sourced codes for the GEOS-Chem model associated with the developed reactive nitrogen chemical mechanisms.

Yaoxian Huang, Ph.D., assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering.

“In this project, we will use supercomputers to simulate the impacts of air pollutant emissions from human activities on our planet’s air quality at the global scale through the employment of the state-of-the-science chemical transport models by improving the chemical reaction schemes associated with snowpack and transportation sectors,” said Huang. “The research findings from this project have the potential to provide scientific support for air quality management in terms of air pollution mitigation.”

The project will support and train two graduate students, and outcomes from the research will transfer into classroom teaching and outreach activities with K-12 students from Detroit to help promote air quality education for future generations.

In addition, Huang is collaborating on a grant recently awarded to Brown University that will track urban nitrous acid emissions in the Great Lakes region. The project, “Tracking Urban Nitrous Acid (HONO) Emissions and Secondary Production in the Great Lakes Region during Michigan-Ontario Ozone Source Experiment (MOOSE),” (NSF-2126097; total project budget: $754,830) will contribute to the EPA-led MOOSE campaign, which aims to have positive societal benefits by providing stakeholders guidance on effective mitigation strategies of ozone air pollution in metropolitan Detroit. The project will train students at Brown University, Wayne State and SUNY-ESF, and will be integrated into lectures and hands-on activities to engage students in atmospheric chemistry research. In particular, it will offer students and others training on how urban air quality is defined and monitored, and how air pollutant trajectories are tracked.

“Both of these projects are great examples of the important research that our faculty in the College of Engineering are engaged in,” said Farshad Fotouhi, Ph.D., dean of Wayne State’s College of Engineering. “Dr. Huang’s work will not only impact our environment positively, but will enhance our recently launched M.S. in environmental and sustainability engineering program and help educate students at all levels about the importance of understanding the impact that various chemical mechanisms play on air quality, which ultimately impacts our lives.”

About Wayne State University

Wayne State University is one of the nation’s pre-eminent public research universities in an urban setting. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and throughout the world. For more information about research at Wayne State University, visit


Julie O'Connor
Phone: 313-577-8845

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