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Peter Adams - Carnegie Mellon University. Pittsburgh, PA, US

Peter Adams

Professor and Department Head | Carnegie Mellon University


Peter Adams' research largely focuses on the development of chemical transport models and their application to decision-making.


Peter Adams is the Thomas Lord Professor of Engineering, Department Head and Professor in the Department of Engineering & Public Policy and Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. His research largely focuses on the development of chemical transport models and their application to decision-making, especially related to PM2.5. Adams also has extensive expertise in the simulation of aerosol microphysical processes, ultrafine particles and the formation of cloud condensation nuclei in global climate models. Areas of research have also included the effects of climate change on air quality, short-lived climate forcers, atmospheric ammonia and particulate matter formation from livestock operations, and the simulation organic particulate matter.

Adams was selected for a Fulbright grant to collaborate with researchers at the Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate in Bologna, has been a Visiting Senior Research Scientist at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and received the Sheldon K. Friedlander Award for outstanding doctoral thesis from the American Association for Aerosol Research. He has previously served on the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee and the Allegheny County Health Department’s Air Toxics New Guidelines Proposal Committee as well as service to the American Association for Aerosol Research. His research is supported primarily by the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Defense.

Adams received his BS degree in Chemical Engineering, summa cum laude, from Cornell University. He was awarded a Hertz Foundation Applied Science Fellowship for graduate study and received MS and PhD degrees in Chemical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology. He also holds an associated faculty position in the Chemical Engineering department at Carnegie Mellon.

Areas of Expertise (6)

Air Quality


Regional Air Quality Modeling

Aerosol Effects on Climate

Atmospheric Particulate Matter

Atmospheric Chemistry

Media Appearances (5)

EPA assembles experts to probe benefits of air rules

E&E News  online


In an email, Peter Adams, another member of the newly announced panel, on Monday called BenMAP “the de facto standard for assessing health outcomes from air pollution exposures and also how we value those in economic terms.”

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Why Is Ground Level Ozone Bad, But Stratospheric Ozone Is Good?

90.5 WESA  online


Carnegie Mellon University environmental engineering professor Peter Adams said ozone formation is one of the more complicated topics in atmospheric chemistry. “You need something called volatile organic compounds, which you can think of gasoline vapors and other things like that. You need nitrogen oxides which comes from vehicles and power plants,” Adams said. “You need it to be sunny, and generally you need warmer temperatures.”

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Dirty Air From Global Trade Kills at Home, Abroad, Study Contends

VOA  online


Production is likely to remain concentrated in Asia, however, and it will have to be up to those countries to better regulate their own industrial emissions, said Peter Adams, an engineering professor and air pollution expert at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, who wasn't part of the study. "Relying on consumer altruism," he said, won't be enough.

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AP analysis: Dozens of deaths likely from VW pollution dodge

AP News  online


“Statistically, we can’t point out who died because of this policy, but some people have died or likely died as a result of this,” said Carnegie Mellon environmental engineer professor Peter Adams. He calculates the cost of air pollution with a sophisticated computer model that he and the AP used in its analysis.

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Peter Adams Named Head of Carnegie Mellon’s Engineering and Public Policy Department

CMU Portugal  online


Peter Adams, a Carnegie Mellon University professor, and researcher has been appointed the head of the Department of Engineering and Public Policy (EPP). He has held the title of interim head of EPP since August 1, 2019, and will immediately transition to department head.

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Peter Adams: Airborne Particulate Matter: Public Health Impacts & Climate Change Collaborative Teaching: Climate Change



Industry Expertise (4)


Public Policy



Accomplishments (2)

Lyman A. Ripperton Environmental Educator Award (professional)


Carnegie Mellon University Teaching Innovation Award (professional)


Education (3)

California Institute of Technology: M.S., Chemical Engineering 1998

California Institute of Technology: Ph.D., Chemical Engineering 2001

Cornell University: B.S., Chemical Engineering 1996

Affiliations (5)

  • Air and Waste Management Association (AWMA): member
  • American Association for Aerosol Research (AAAR): member, past Internet Committee chair, By-Laws Committee
  • American Geophysical Union (AGU)
  • American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
  • European Geosciences Union (EGU)

Event Appearances (5)

Reduced-Complexity Models (RCMs) for Air Quality Impact Assessment: A Tutorial”

Community Modeling and Analysis System  

An Introduction to Reduced-Complexity Models for Air Quality

18th Annual Community Modeling and Analysis (CMAS) Conference  

Process-based ammonia emissions inventories from livestock: status and needs

National Atmospheric Deposition Program TDep Workshop  

Bringing Air Quality Models into Policy and Systems Analysis

North Carolina State University  

Bringing Air Quality Models into Policy and Systems Analysis

Clarkson University  

Articles (5)

Optimizing Emissions Reductions from the U.S. Power Sector for Climate and Health Benefits

Environmental Science & Technology

2020 Improved air quality and human health are often discussed as “co-benefits” of mitigating climate change, yet they are rarely considered when designing or implementing climate policies. We analyze the implications of integrating health and climate when determining the best locations for replacing power plants with new wind, solar, or natural gas to meet a CO2 reduction target in the United States.

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Spatial decomposition analysis of NO2 and PM2.5 air pollution in the United States

Atmospheric Environment

2020 Length scales for spatial variability of air pollution concentrations depend on the pollutant and the location. In this paper, we develop a readily scalable algorithm based on “spatial-increment”, to decompose the air pollution concentration into four spatial components: long-range, mid-range, neighborhood, and near-source.

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Spatial Correlation of Ultrafine Particle Number and Fine Particle Mass at Urban Scales: Implications for Health Assessment

Environmental Science & Technology

2020 The epidemiological evidence for ultrafine particles (UFP; particles with diameter

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Integrating atmospheric models and measurements using passivity-based input observers

Computers & Chemical Engineering

2019 Atmospheric aerosol models simulate the concentration of gaseous pollutants and particulate matter in the atmosphere. These models include significant mismatch from the true atmosphere resulting from uncertainty in the inputs including meteorology and emission fields, extrapolation and simplification of experimentally-derived relationships for the process dynamics, and possibly un-accounted for processes. In this paper we estimate time-varying parameters that adjust uncertain dynamics to account for some of the model mismatch.

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Near term carbon tax policy in the US Economy: limits to deep decarbonization

Environmental Research Communications

2020 This paper explores carbon dioxide (CO2) tax policies from 2015 to 2030 in the United States economy using an energy system least-cost optimization model. We report limited near-term decarbonization opportunities outside of the electricity sector, which results in substantial CO2 tax revenue through 2030.

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