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Work to combat air pollution earns student scholarship

March 06, 2009

Tingting Gao, an Arizona State University environmental engineering graduate student, has won the David Benforado Memorial Scholarship from the Air & Waste Management Association (AWMA) for her air-quality research.

The scholarship recognizes achievement in air-pollution reduction and control, and waste minimization. The program supports graduate students pursuing careers in air quality, waste management, and environmental management, policy, or law.

The $5,000 scholarship and award will be presented to Gao at the AWMA 102nd Annual Conference and Exhibition from June 16 to 19 in Detroit.

The AWMA is an international nonprofit organization based in Pittsburgh, established to improve environmental knowledge and decision-making by providing a neutral forum for exchanging information.

“It’s a huge encouragement to me,” Gao said of the award. “I really appreciate the AWMA for offering me the scholarship, and I appreciate my advisor, Jean Andino, for her great guidance in my research."

Gao’s achievement is especially impressive, said Andino, an associate professor and the associate chair for graduate affairs in the Department of Chemical Engineering.

"The Air & Waste Management Association's scholarships are highly competitive and very prestigious. I am so pleased that Tingting has been recognized for her research work as well as her academic success,” Andino said. “She is fantastic student, and I am very pleased to have her as part of my research group."

Since transferring from the Nankai University in Tianjin, China, Gao has maintained a perfect grade point average at ASU.

"I personally recruited Tingting to ASU [in 2007]," Andino said, "and within one year she has already had a paper accepted for publication in the International Journal of Chemical Kinetics, an important journal in the field."

Gao has been studying the atmospheric degradation of volatile organic compounds.

The purpose of her research, she explained, “is to understand and predict how quickly a series of naturally emitted volatile organic compounds degrade in the atmosphere through chemical reaction with other gas-phase species.”

Such work is important for understanding the mechanisms of smog formation.

The information gained through the work can be used to improve the chemistry in air-pollution computer models. This will help to better predict the formation of air pollution and also to evaluate proposed air-pollution control strategies for specific geographical regions.

Written by Matt Evans

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