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Dr. Gabriel Isaacman-VanWertz

FACULTY AFFILIATE   |   Global Change Center

Civil and Environmental Engineering

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(540) 231-0011  •


Research in the Dr. Isaacman-VanWertz’s group focuses on understanding the chemical transformations of reactive organic compounds in the atmosphere – their physicochemical properties, their fate in the environment, and their impacts on ecosystems and populations. A major focus of his lab is the development of new methods and approaches to study atmospheric composition by developing both state-of-the-art research instrumentation and lower-cost tools to make atmospheric measurements more widely available. His group uses these tools to study the composition and formation of organic particles and gases in indoor and outdoor air, the impacts of human emissions on formation and transformation of atmospheric components, and the transport of atmospheric components into other environments.


Current research projects include measurements in a nearby forest to understand atmosphere-biosphere feedbacks in long-term ozone trends, improved instrumentation to understand the impacts of emissions from humans on the chemistry of indoor environments, and the quantification of volatile organic compounds across a range of environments (for instance: petroleum-contaminated subsurface soil gas, insect pheromones in agricultural settings, and bike-borne measurements of vehicle emissions). He welcomes opportunities for collaboration to study interactions of atmospheric constituents with other spheres of Earth’s environment.

Dr. Isaacman-VanWertz got into this field after spending two years post-college working in schools and museum education in San Francisco, deciding to dive back into research by getting a Ph.D. in atmospheric chemistry at UC Berkeley in the department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management. His work as an NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT focused on understanding the composition and transformations of organic carbon in the atmosphere.

He teaches several graduate courses in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering focused on atmospheric processes and environmental measurement techniques, including Atmospheric Chemistry; Atmospheric Measurement Techniques; and Emerging Tools for Environmental Field Research. He welcomes students from broad disciplinary backgrounds into these courses.