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University of Iowa News Release

Feb. 11, 2004

UI's Grassian Honored With Van Allen Natural Science Award

Vicki H. Grassian, professor of chemistry in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is the recipient of the 2004-2005 James Van Allen Natural Sciences Fellowship. The $15,000 Van Allen Fellowship is a competitive award designed to encourage and support work in the physical, natural and mathematical sciences.

Grassian, who also holds an appointment in the UI College of Engineering department of chemical and biochemical engineering, plans to use the award to devote a majority of her time to designing and implementing new laboratory experiments to better understand the link between the chemistry of mineral dust in the atmosphere and other global processes, including climate and biogeochemical cycles as well as human health. Mineral dust is largely composed of soil particles lifted into the atmosphere by wind currents. During the last 10 years, the role of mineral dust in the atmosphere has received much attention from the scientific community.

Large amounts of mineral dust, arising from dust storms in desert regions, combined with the long-range global transport of these particles can influence air quality, visibility, terrestrial and ocean life worldwide. Grassian is particularly interested in the design and implementation of laboratory experiments to better understand the relationship between the chemistry of atmospheric mineral dust and how that chemistry can change and/or alter the impact that mineral dust has on climate, biogeochemical cycles and health.

Grassian received her doctorate from the University of California-Berkeley in 1987 and joined the UI faculty in 1990. Her research program spans several areas including understanding the role of particulate matter in the atmosphere and the use of nanoscience and nanotechnology in solving environmental problems. In 2003, she received a special two-year creativity award from the National Science Foundation. The creativity award, given in recognition of her recent creative accomplishments, is intended to give scientists the opportunity to attack adventurous, high-risk problems.

The James Van Allen Natural Sciences Fellowship is one of two faculty fellowships awarded in alternate years by the university, the other being the May Brodbeck Humanities Award.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Gary Galluzzo, 319-384-0009,