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Research Experiences for Undergraduates

Atmospheric Research and Engineering Solutions for Climate Change and Environmental Challenges

REU Site: Atmospheric Research and Engineering Solutions for Climate Change and Environmental Challenges

Exterior of UAlbany ETEC building. The side of the building reads, "ETEC" and "University at Albany".
Emerging Technology and Entrepreneurial Center (ETEC)

Department of Environmental and Sustainable Engineering, College of Nanotechnology, Science, and Engineering (CNSE)

Atmospheric Sciences Research Center (ASRC)

Calendar for Summer 2024

  • Application Deadline: March 1
  • Notification to selected participants: March 15
  • Program dates: May 20 to July 26




UAlbany undergraduate student Marco Eugene (Bio Undergrad) deploying low-cost sensors and mini-vol sampler to measure air quality in a residential neighborhood.
UAlbany biology undergraduate student Marco Eugene deploys low-cost sensors and a mini-vol sampler to measure air quality in a residential neighborhood.


UAlbany undergraduate student Anthony Testo (Chem Undergrad) measuring enzyme activity using a highly sensitive microcalorimeter system.
UAlbany chemistry undergraduate student Anthony Testo measures enzyme activity using a highly sensitive microcalorimeter system.


University at Albany undergraduate student Matthew Brewer (left) sets up a weather station with Whiteface Mountain Site Operations Manager Paul Casson at the Lake Placid Turn along the road to the peak of Whiteface Mountain in the Adirondacks.
University at Albany undergraduate student Matthew Brewer (left) sets up a weather station with Whiteface Mountain Site Operations Manager Paul Casson at the Lake Placid Turn along the road to the peak of Whiteface Mountain in the Adirondacks.


UAlbany undergraduate students preparing a weather balloon to collect data during the 2022 WINTRE-MIX field campaign.
UAlbany undergraduate students preparing a weather balloon to collect data during the 2022 WINTRE-MIX field campaign.

REU Program


Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis are strategies of the United States that will help to protect all citizens, including and especially minority and low-income populations. Climate change can affect human health through changing weather patterns, wildfires, heat waves, droughts, flooding, spread of infectious diseases, and can impact environmental quality, agriculture and marine ecosystems. Environmental challenges include water pollution, air pollution, hazardous waste, water resources management, and energy sustainability.  

The overall goal of this REU Site at University at Albany (UAlbany) is to recruit U.S. undergraduate students, primarily from underrepresented minorities (e.g., women and first-generation/low-income students) and train them in conducting research on atmospheric sciences and environmental engineering solutions with a coherent theme to address climate change and environmental challenges.

The project consists of a ten-week summer program for three years, each year bringing together a cohort of 8 diverse students recruited from a national search. 

Specific objectives are to: 

  1. broaden the research experience and climate change awareness of U.S. students,
  2. increase student skills and knowledge on atmospheric sciences and environmental & sustainable engineering for solutions to climate change and environmental challenges,
  3. enhance student professional growth through collaborative research training, mentoring, and building professional networks,
  4. enhance student competencies in effective communication, self-confidence, professional adaptability, and leadership, and
  5. develop interest among underrepresented minority students in choosing careers in science and engineering.

Key activities include a streamlined two-week short course, focused individual research projects, weekly REU group meetings, training workshops, participation in a distinguished speaker series, professional meetings, research colloquium, and potentially follow-up preparation of conference presentations and peer-reviewed publications.  

The long-term educational goals are to prepare REU students in becoming future engineers and scientists for tackling the climate crisis and environmental challenges, and promoting climate and environmental stewardship to improve public health.

Financial Support

  • Stipend: $6,000 for undergraduates ($600 per week for 10 weeks) 
  • Travel: support for local travels and for conference
  • Subsistence: Housing and meals provided

The University at Albany

The University at Albany (UAlbany) is an internationally recognized public research university, currently enrolls 16,879 students with 12,184 undergraduates and 4,695 graduates and is campus named one of the most beautiful public college campuses in America in 2016 by Thrillist. It is located in New York State's capital and is a diverse community that includes students and faculty from all over the world, representing 100 nationalities and a wide array of cultures and religions. Albany rises above the Hudson River in beautiful upstate New York, in close proximity to the Berkshires, Catskills, and the Adirondack Mountains, and is convenient to Boston, Montreal, and New York City.

Emerging Technology and Entrepreneurial Center (ETEC) 

ETEC is a $180 million, 246,000 square foot state-of-the-art building (Figure 1) that houses researchers, educators and entrepreneurs under the same roof. Its 40+ labs house more

Exterior of UAlbany ETEC building. The side of the building reads, "ETEC" and "University at Albany".
Emerging Technology and Entrepreneurial Center (ETEC)

than 200 full-time faculty and researchers, 100 research and industry partners. As many as 800 students will work in its 20 classrooms and teaching labs and other innovative spaces: an emergency preparedness situation room to replicate emergency operations scenarios, a campus makerspace, a visualization development center, science-on-a-sphere room, weather research map rooms, and a glass-enclosed weather observation room. 

Located across the street from the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES), Office of Emergency Management and the New York State Police, ETEC offers state-of-the-art research facilities and access to important scientific and technological resources including research labs, the NYS Mesonet, the Center of Excellence in Weather and Climate Analytics, and the xCITE Laboratory. This unique facility is designed to drive economic growth, create jobs, and enhance New York’s competitiveness in key sectors such as emergency preparedness, homeland security, renewable energy, weather, and resiliency.

Department of Environmental and Sustainable Engineering (ESE)College of Nanotechnology, Science, and Engineering (CNSE)

The Department of Environmental and Sustainable Engineering (ESE) in the College of Nanotechnology, Science, and Engineering (CNSE), is the first of its kind in the country with an emphasis on both the environment and sustainability.

The diverse top-notch faculty are training students to become future environmental engineering leaders who can address local and global environmental problems, provide sustainable designs for natural and engineered environments, and promote sustainability in all areas related to the environment and human health.

ESE has a state of art wet- and dry-laboratories and has an attractive environment for faculty-student interaction. ESE is located in ETEC building at the Harriman State Office Campus from January 2023.

Atmospheric Sciences Research Center (ASRC)

The Atmospheric Sciences Research Center (ASRC) was established in 1961 by the Board of Trustees, State University of New York, as a University-wide center for the specific purpose of promoting and encouraging programs in basic and applied sciences as they relate to the atmospheric environment.

In the development and execution of its research programs, the Center encourages participation by faculty and students of all units of the State University and by all appropriate industrial, governmental, and educational groups. ASRC is housed in the ETEC building along with several other key units including Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences (DAES), the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security, and Cybersecurity (CEHC), and the National Weather Service Albany Office. Dr. Chris Thorncroft is Director of the Atmospheric Sciences Research Center (ASRC) as well as Director of the NYS Mesonet and Center of Excellence. 

New York State Mesonet (NYSM)

NYS Mesonet map
Mesonet data are gathered from a network of 127 weather stations and disseminated in real-time through the University at Albany to customers statewide.

In April 2014, the State of New York in collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services funded the University at Albany to design, install, and operate the NYS Early Warning Weather Detection System. The standard network of 127 weather stations provides the backbone of the NYSM infrastructure.

Data are collected every 5 minutes and relayed to the University at Albany via a real-time communications network. All data are quality-controlled, archived, and disseminated from the University at Albany. Collectively, the NYSM maintains 1,500 sensors and another 2,500 pieces of equipment to collect, transmit, and disseminate NYSM data in real-time to customers statewide.

The NYSM headquarters is in the ETEC building at UAlbany, and includes an Operations Center where student interns help to monitor daily operations. Large displays are mounted in the NYSM Operations Center to display monitoring data and real-time camera images from around New York State.



This opportunity is available to undergraduate and graduate students in STEM fields at U.S. institutions with following requirements:

  1. U.S.-citizen or permanent resident and must have full COVID-19 vaccination record
  2. Grade point average (GPA) of at least 2.7
  3. Agree to participate in post trip follow-up research activities in Fall and Spring

Students who are underrepresented minorities, women, first-generation/low-income students, Hispanics, and veterans as well as persons with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply.

Preference will be given to juniors and seniors with background in environmental engineering, atmospheric and environmental sciences, and other related disciplines.

How to Apply

  1. Complete an online application form.
  2. Submit copies of transcripts (a copy of unofficial transcript is fine).
  3. Provide one reference (e.g., your academic advisor). If shortlisted, we will contact for recommendation letter.
  4. Upload your resume.
  5. Provide a statement of purpose. Describe your academic and career goals, research interests, and how you believe the REU program will help achieve your short- and long-term goals.
  6. Provide demographic information.

Research Projects

REU participants will work on individual research projects collaborating with UAlbany mentors. The Principal Investigators and mentors will offer numerous research topics at undergraduate levels. This helps students choose their individual research topics based on their interests. The projects will be structured in such a way that undergraduate students can feel confident that they can complete the proposed tasks successfully in due time. Brief descriptions of sample research projects are given below.

Sample Research Projects
Sample Project 1: Green, low cost and super sorptive sorbents for PFAS removal and stabilization

Mentor: Yanna Liang

Concerns regarding per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the environment have grown dramatically in recent years. While perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) continue to receive the most attention, recognition of the wide diversity of PFAS has increased, and there are suggestions that the fate of perhaps thousands of related PFAS may need to be considered.

To clean up soils contaminated by PFAS as a result of historical use of aqueous film forming foam (AFFF), several approaches, such as excavation/disposal of at offsites, soil washing, thermal and chemical degradation, bioremediation and phytoremediation have been investigated either at field or lab scales. Given the drawbacks associated with these approaches, for example secondary contamination, potentially more toxic and mobile degradation products and long time needed for phytoremediation, stabilization by amending a sorbent that is designed to retain PFAS in soil and prevent their movements to other surrounding locations has gained momentum in recent years.

To develop robust, green, environmentally sustainable, low or zero carbon footprint and inexpensive sorbents that are able to stabilize all types of PFAS in soil, we seek to focus on those based on natural clay and biopolymers. Our recent screening test has identified three out of >20 sorbents that have much better performance than commercially available sorbents with respect to sorption capacity and required contact time.

The REU students will be involved in this line of research. Specifically, the students will gain skills in synthesizing, characterizing and testing different sorbents and studying their effects on stabilizing different types of PFAS in different environments. These sorbents will also be investigated toward removing PFAS in contaminated water. Through working closely with graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in Liang’s lab, these students will enhance their problem-solving skills, acquire experience and expertise for designing innovative solutions addressing critical environmental and societal challenges.

Sample Project 2: Electrochemical resource recovery from waste streams

Mentor: Kyoung-Yeol Kim

Conventional wastewater treatment processes focus on destroying components (e.g., organic matter, nutrients, etc.) in waste streams for treatment. However, those components in waste streams are still economically valuable and can be recovered as energy or value-added products using new sustainable wastewater treatment processes.

For example, ammonia is problematic in waste streams since the excessive ammonia in the effluent will cause eutrophication. Instead of removing ammonia in the wastewater, ammonia can be recovered from wastewater using several processes such as air-stripping, ion exchange, electrochemical separation, etc. Ammonia recovery from wastewater is promising since the Haber-Bosch process (N2+3H2→2NH3) is currently used to produce ammonia for fertilizers, but the process is energy-intensive, it accounts for 1-2% of world energy consumption. 

The mentor (Dr. Kyoung-Yeol Kim)’s research team is working on ammonia recovery from waste streams using an electrochemical separation method. The REU students will learn about basic principles of electrochemical processes in week 1-2 to harvest value-added products from waste streams and experience hands-on experiments in the lab in week 3-10.

Students will be running their electrochemical reactors, learn how to fabricate electrodes that can be used for electrochemical ammonia recovery. Ammonia recovery fluxes and energy consumptions will be monitored by students and students will conduct advanced electrochemical analyses such as linear scan voltammetry, cyclic voltammetry, electrochemical impedance spectroscopy, etc. to analyze and evaluate the electrochemical performances of their recovery system.

Sample Project 3: Low-cost multipollutant sensor monitoring for climate-driven pollutants in indoor and outdoor environments

Mentor: Md. Aynul Bari

Climate change can affect the air we breathe in both ambient and indoor environments. While government and regulatory agencies have focused to tackle urban ambient air pollution, little attention has been paid to assess the quality of air in the U.S. homes. To fill this gap, REU students will measure community-specific near-field (outdoors in home backyard and indoors) air quality exposure in the NYS Capital District.

In the U.S., community air quality observation networks are limited in characterizing the diverse group of air pollutants e.g., black carbon that affect exposure across regional to neighborhood scales. Indoor and outdoor concentrations of BC, CO2, total volatile organic compounds (TVOC) and fine particulate matter fractions (PM2.5 µm) will be measured using low-cost sensors. In year 1 and 2, one REU student will work with undergraduate and graduate students in the PI Bari’s lab and contribute to ongoing weekly sampling in 4-6 homes or apartments in each selected neighborhoods during the Summer to collect data from at least 20 homes.

Undergraduate students in PI Bari’s group will continue sampling during Winter and share data to REU students. In year 3, one REU student will apply statistical modeling to find indoor and outdoor predictors of BC, CO2 and other pollutants. Findings will provide an improved understanding of community-specific air quality problems associated with climate change and promote increased environmental stewardship and community action to reduce air emissions. 

Sample Project 4: Biogeochemical cycling of carbon and nutrients in fire-impacted environments

Mentor: Rixiang Huang

Fire is a major force in the Earth system that influences global ecosystems patterns and processes, including the coupled C and nutrient cycles. Understanding the mechanisms of fire’s impacts on the coupled C and nutrient cycling is fundamental for evaluating and modeling the roles of fire in many ecosystem processes (e.g., primary productivity), which is an integral part of earth system modeling.

The Huang group has multiple research projects under this central theme, focusing on the impacts of fire on soil biogeochemical conditions and dynamics of C and nutrient cycling that regulates soil nutrient status and aboveground productivity. A project is devoted to exploring the interactions between charcoal and soil extracellular enzymes and the impacts on enzyme-mediated organic matter decomposition (currently supported by NSF#2120547).

Several undergraduate students majored in biology, chemistry, and environmental engineering have participated in this research, contributing to charcoal production and characterization, enzyme adsorption measurement, and enzyme activity measurement. Another project focuses on the cycling of nutrients in fire burned residues in soils, targeting the interplay between fire regimes, soil properties, and ecosystem characteristics.

This project involves laboratory and field studies and experimental and modeling approaches. REU students can involve in field sampling, simulated biomass burning, chemical analysis of soils and fire residues, and chemical and transport modeling. Through active engagement in these research projects, REU students will learn multiple climate-related subjects, develop essential research skills, and have extensive hand-on experiences on a range of advanced instruments, such as microcalorimetry and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR). 

Sample Project 5: Solutions of sustainable urban stormwater management under climate change conditions

Mentor: Yaoze Liu

Significance of the research area

Urbanization leads to increased impervious surfaces - major causes for increased runoff, decreased recession time, decreased groundwater recharge, and decreased base flow, resulting in increased flood risks and combined sewer overflows (CSOs) due to extreme storm events under current climate and future climate change conditions 9-12.

CSOs contain partially treated or untreated stormwater and wastewater from residential, commercial, and industrial areas that would be delivered to waterbodies, causing severe water quality impairments.

To address these challenges, green infrastructure (GI) practices (or low impact development-LID controls), such as bioretention cells or green roofs, are sustainable stormwater management practices that increase community resilience and adaptation to extreme events under current and future climate conditions by restoring urban hydrological processes to reduce flood risks, CSOs, and conventional gray infrastructure needs with significant environmental, social, and economic benefits 13,14. However, cost-effective urban GI practices implementation strategies need to be created using an efficient systematic approach to reduce the adverse impacts of climate change.

Underlying theoretical framework

Using modeling approaches (Storm Water Management Model-SWMM 15-17) to create cost-effective urban GI practices implementation strategies using an efficient systematic approach to reduce the adverse impacts of climate change.


  1. The adverse impacts of climate change on urban flood risks can be reduced by at least 50% by optimally implementing GI practices.
  2. The adverse impacts of climate change on urban CSOs can be reduced by at least 30% by optimally implementing GI practices.
  3. The optimized implementations (types, designs, quantities, and spatial locations) of GI practices are at least 50% more cost-effective than typical implementations of GI practices.

Research questions

  1. How will optimally implementing GI practices reduce the adverse impacts of climate change on urban flood risks and CSOs?
  2. How to obtain optimized types, designs, quantities, and spatial locations of GI practices?
  3. How will optimized implementations of GI practices compare to typical implementations of GI practices?
Sample Project 6: Processes controlling regional climate change and variability

Mentor: Justin Minder

The Minder research group, in the Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences (DAES), studies processes controlling regional climate change and variability, with a focus on regions of complex terrain. Research projects typically use some combination of high-resolution regional climate modeling, networks of weather station data, gridded climate analyses, and/or satellite remote sensing. Special attention is given to how mountains and inland lakes shape regional climates and climate change impacts. Specific research projects offered will vary year-to-year and depend on student interest. 

  • Projecting changes in winter precipitation type over northeast US: How will the mix of winter precipitation types (e.g., snow, sleet, freezing rain, and rain) change in the complex terrain of the northeastern US as the climate warms? We will investigate possible futures and the processes at play using output from high-resolution regional climate simulations and diagnostics methods for determining precipitation type. Station observations will be used to evaluate the models.
  • Variability and trends in lake-effect snow: How do variations in atmospheric circulations and lake conditions combine to determine how much snow falls in lake-effect snowstorms downwind of the Great Lakes each winter? We will use atmospheric and lake analyses, high-resolution regional climate simulations, and New York State Mesonet station observations. Lessons learned will be used to understand how lake-effect snow may change as the climate warms. 
  • Elevation-depending climate warming over the Andes mountains: How will the amount of climate warming vary with elevation in the Andes mountains over the upcoming decades and what are the crucial physical processes at play? We will investigate these questions in a set of state-of-the-art high-resolution regional climate model simulations being conducted over South America.
Sample Project 7: Paleoclimatology and marine geochemistry

Mentor: Sujata Murty

In climate research, long datasets are invaluable. They help establish a climate baseline against we can measure recent changes and illuminate connections between different aspects of the climate system. Yet, instrumental climate data are sparse before the 20th century, particularly throughout Indo-Pacific ocean regions.

Assessing how recent changes in Indo-Pacific climate fit into a long-term context thus requires archives of past climate and environmental changes. One such archive are reef corals. Corals can grow continuously for hundreds of years and acting like meteorological stations in the ocean that continuously record climate and environmental changes during periods when no observational data exists.

As they grow, corals incorporate chemicals from the seawater surrounding the colony into their carbonate skeleton. The concentration of those chemicals varies in relation to changes in temperature, rainfall and ocean circulation.

In this project, students will analyze geochemical data from Indo-Pacific coral samples (e.g., Red Sea, central Indian Ocean) and combine the data with high-resolution ocean model simulations to assess the drivers of changes in Indo-Pacific ocean and climate systems over past centuries.

This project is flexible in nature and can be focused on coral paleoclimate reconstructions, analysis of model output, or a synthesis of both, depending on the interests of the successful applicant.

Led by Sujata Murty, a paleoclimate scientist and oceanographer at the University at Albany (UAlbany), the project is highly interdisciplinary and will integrate paleoclimatology and marine geochemistry with physical oceanography. The successful applicant can expect to gain a hands-on geochemistry laboratory experience, paleoclimate analytical skills and programming experience while participating in weekly lab group meetings and research paper discussions. 

Sample Project 8: Atmospheric Chemistry and Air Quality Measurements

Mentor: James Schwab

The student will be involved in hands-on operation of instruments for the measurement of air pollutant gases and particles. The Schwab research group operates research stations in Albany (at ETEC), at Whiteface Mountain, and on Long Island. The student will learn about all aspects of the measurement process, from selection of instrumentation, air sampling, data acquisition, calibration, data validation, quality assurance, and data processing.

Depending on support and other logistics, the student may have the opportunity to travel to Whiteface Mountain or Heckscher State Park on Long Island to observe and help calibrate instruments at an operating research site. The project will help the student learn about important air pollutants, including ozone, oxides of nitrogen and particulate matter. For secondary pollutants such as ozone and some forms of particulate matter, the student will also learn about formation and destruction mechanisms.

All of this will be placed in the context of meteorological conditions such as temperature, relative humidity, solar insolation, and wind speed and direction. This will help the student understand the interplay of chemistry and meteorology involved in determining air quality. Since ozone and particulate matter (aerosols) also have important implications to radiative forcing, the role of these species in climate science will also be emphasized.

Sample Project 9: Surface exchange processes-air-sea interface

Mentor: Scott Miller

The exchange of momentum, heat, moisture, and trace gases (e.g., CO2) across the air-sea interface is important for determining the dynamics and composition of the atmosphere. These “fluxes” are driven by complex processes (e.g., atmospheric turbulence) and interactions (e.g., wind-wave coupling) that must be represented using relatively simple formulas, or parameterizations, in weather and climate models.

To develop these parameterizations, we focus on using specialized techniques such as eddy covariance to directly measure fluxes from platforms such as ships and buoys. These data can be used to improve the understanding of processes controlling air-sea exchange. 

Dr. Miller’s lab is working to develop autonomous, buoy-based systems for measuring air-sea exchange between the sea surface and the marine atmosphere (momentum, heat, moisture, carbon dioxide). This capability will support basic studies of air-sea interaction physics and biogeochemistry, including applied fields such as offshore wind energy that address important environmental challenges.

Depending on interests of the REU student, the range of research projects includes development of instrumentation and measurement systems, field deployments, and data analysis/interpretation.

Sample Project 10: Weather-air quality, aerosol-weather interaction, and the impact of wildfire smoke aerosols


Mentor: Sarah Lu

The Lu research group focuses on aerosol-related research studies. Research projects typically use some combination of regional air quality modeling, gridded weather analyses, ambient measurements from surface networks, and/or satellite remote sensing observations. Research projects will vary year to year depending on interest of REU students.

  • Weather and Air quality:  Limited-area numerical models, in conjunction with multi-platform observations, are used to investigate local weather and air quality phenomena across New York State
  • Aerosol-weather interaction: Numerical models are used to investigate the impact of aerosol-radiation-cloud interaction on medium-range weather forecasts as well as to characterize the impact of aerosol transmittance effects on satellite radiance data assimilation.
  • Impact of wildfire smoke plumes: Long-range transport of smoke aerosols and their impacts on local air quality are investigated using satellite measurements, ground-based networks, and model products. Machine learning algorithms are applied to characterize key contributors to surface PM concentrations.


Sample Project 11: Turbulence modeling, numerical weather prediction, and renewable energy

Mentor: Sukata Basu

Research projects will vary year to year depending on interest of REU students.
Automated classification of wind profiles in the lower troposphere. Given the high cost of the instruments/infrastructures and other logistical issues, in general, there is a dearth of tall wind profile measurements around the world. During the proposed REU project, the student researcher will use NYS Mesonet profiler data (17 wind lidars) and first classify these observed wind profiles using a machine learning approach called Self-organizing Feature Map (SOM)18.

Subsequently, they will be able to determine if certain classes of wind profiles are more prevalent at specific locations (e.g., coastal site vs. complex terrain). The outcome of this project will be extremely useful for the US wind industry. 

Reliable estimation of extreme wind gusts using convolutional neural networks. In this REU project, we will reformulate the extreme wind gust (EWG) estimation problem as a deep learning-based ‘image regression’ problem. The student researcher will utilize gridded radar reflectivity images from as input to train a suite of convolutional neural networks (e.g., DenseNet, InceptionV3).

Wind gust measurements from the New York State Mesonet Network will be systematically used for both training and validation. The proposed deep learning framework can be easily extended to other parts of the United States. 

Solar energy forecasting using sky imageries and a novel deep learning framework. In the proposed REU project, the student researcher will conduct rigorous assessment of a deep learning-based multivariate regression framework (henceforth dmvrSolar), by making use of the observational data from the NYS Mesonet Profiler Network. This project will facilitate the NYS’s ambitious goal of generating 70% of its electricity generation from renewable sources (including solar energy) by 2030. 

Sample Project 12: Aerosol-cloud-chemistry interactions

Mentor: Sara Lance

Clouds impact the transport, chemical processing and removal of pollutants from the atmosphere. Predicting changes to the composition of Earth’s atmosphere (or atmospheres of other planets) thus requires understanding the processes by which clouds, gases and aerosols interact under different conditions.  

The Lance research group focuses on these types of fundamental processes using one of three approaches:

  1. ambient measurements to uncover relationships in Earth’s atmosphere,
  2. modeling studies to evaluate potential mechanisms behind the ambient observations, and
  3. laboratory measurements to establish a physical basis for the proposed mechanisms.

Many of the measurements conducted are in-situ observations of microphysical and chemical properties at a specific location and time, but larger scale observations using remote sensing from surface-based or satellite-based platforms are also needed to provide important context and to constrain large scale models. REU students will have the opportunity to contribute to research at all levels, from instrument deployment, calibration, forecasting and data acquisition to data analysis and scientific presentations/publications.

Sample Project 13: Renewable Energy: using data to analyze weather and climate effects on the wind and solar energy resource

 Mentor: Jeff Freedman

  • Use of NYSM data to estimate the renewable energy resources - Strong growth of solar wind energy development is driving demand for better characterizing meteorological conditions where physical data is traditionally sparse.

    The New York State Mesonet (NYSM), consisting of 127 standard (surface) stations, and 17 enhanced (profiling) sites, provides a comprehensive and continuous data set of key variables (e.g., wind speeds at hub height - 100 m - 150 m; and surface irradiance) for estimating wind and solar energy generation.

    Potential work here would include estimating the New York State wind and solar resource using NYSM data and comparing this analysis with existing gridded data sets such as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Wind Integration National Dataset Toolkit and Solar Resource Maps.
  • Variability of the wind resource - Rapid changes in wind speed or availability of solar power can produce sudden changes in wind and solar power output.

    These “ramp events” can lead to power grid instability and the potential for large-scale blackouts. Potential work here includes using NYSM data to analyze the spatial and temporal distribution of ramp events across New York State.

    Such an analysis would be of great value to utilities, the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), and regulatory authorities in the context of the rapid growth of renewable energy across the state.
  • Climate change and renewable energy - Renewable energy (onshore and offshore wind, utility-scale and distributed solar generation, and hydropower) is supplying a rapidly increasing share of electricity to New York State’s (NYS) power grid.

    However, little is known about the potential effects of climate change on the spatial and temporal distribution of renewables in NYS. With support from the NYS Energy Research and Development Authority, the ASRC Renewable Energy Group conducted a comprehensive observational and modeling study of climate change and its potential effects on the state’s renewable energy resources.

    Potential work here would involve examining how climate change may affect trends in wind and solar energy “droughts”, extreme events, and changes in electrical power demand.
Sample Project 14: Climatology of extreme weather of the US Caribbean

Mentor: Jorge E. González-Cruz

The Coastal Urban Environmental Research Group (CUERG) conducts research on the climatology of extreme weather for the US Caribbean, comprised of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, in collaboration with the US National Ocean and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) under the Climate Adaptation Partnership Program.  

The specific objective is to quantify trends from present and projected records for thermal environments consisting of surface and air temperatures, moisture content, heat index and consequential heat waves. 
Expected Outcomes

  • Research on long-term past records and of projected future climate of extreme temperatures, humidity and heat index from surface records, satellite data, and of global circulation models to quantify means and extremes. 
  • To cross-correlate environmental records with social value data including public health and energy demands.
  • To quantify trends of means and extremes.
Sample Project 15: Mobile lab measurements and low-cost sensor monitoring in community schools

Mentor: Jie Zhang

Studies have identified significant differences in the spatial distribution of air pollutants, including O3, NO2, particulate matter impacted by local sources (e.g., traffic, local industries, etc.), and these are in turn associated with a relatively higher heath exposure for underserved and low-income communities.

Most of these communities have been excluded from (i.e., not chosen as sites for) the current routine regulatory monitoring stations due to the limited number of such stations, their cost, infrastructure and personnel requirements.

Our group will build an enhanced air quality measurement network in and near underserved and low-income communities in the Capital Region of New York State using one kind of low-cost-sensors package for inside/outside measurements with five community schools as sites and supplemented by mobile lab measurements.

REU students will help deploy and maintain low-cost sensor packages, participate in data analysis and assist in the communication between our group, participating communities and local environmental agencies.

Contact Us

For questions or any information, please email [email protected].


Principal Investigators

Md. Aynul Bari
Assistant Professor
Department of Environmental & Sustainable Engineering; College of Nanotechnology, Science, and Engineering
Scott Miller
Senior Research Faculty
Atmospheric Sciences Research Center


Jeff Freedman
Research Faculty
Atmospheric Sciences Research Center
Jie Zhang
Research Scientist
Atmospheric Sciences Research Center
Sara Lance
Research Faculty
Atmospheric Sciences Research Center
Cheng-Hsuan Lu
Research Faculty
Atmospheric Sciences Research Center
James Schwab
Senior Research Faculty, Emeritus
Atmospheric Sciences Research Center
Sukanta Basu
Professor of Empire Innovation
Atmospheric Sciences Research Center; College of Nanotechnology, Science, and Engineering; Department of Environmental & Sustainable Engineering
Rixiang Huang
Assistant Professor
College of Nanotechnology, Science, and Engineering; Department of Environmental & Sustainable Engineering
Kyoung-Yeol Kim
Assistant Professor
College of Nanotechnology, Science, and Engineering; Department of Environmental & Sustainable Engineering
Yanna Liang
Professor and Chair
College of Nanotechnology, Science, and Engineering; Department of Environmental & Sustainable Engineering
Yaoze Liu
Assistant Professor
College of Nanotechnology, Science, and Engineering; Department of Environmental & Sustainable Engineering
Jorge González-Cruz
Professor - Empire Innovation
Atmospheric Sciences Research Center; Department of Atmospheric & Environmental Sciences
Justin Minder
Associate Professor
Department of Atmospheric & Environmental Sciences
Sujata Murty
Assistant Professor
Department of Atmospheric & Environmental Sciences