Yang Zhang

Professor and Distinguished Fellow and Associate Chair for Research,  Civil and Environmental Engineering



  • 465 Snell Engineering Center
  • 617.373.3503

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Research Focus

Air quality; atmospheric chemistry; cloud/aerosol microphysics; sensitivity and uncertainty analysis; multiscale atmospheric modeling and forecasting; climate and Earth system modeling; health impact assessment; eco-environmental sustainability; human-Earth system interactions


Dr. Zhang specializes in atmospheric and environmental research at the interface of Earth system sciences that crosses traditional disciplinary boundaries including energy, air, water, land, ocean, and human health.  Over the years, Dr. Zhang has contributed to the development, improvement, application, and evaluation of major 3-D air quality, climate, and Earth system models on urban, regional, and global scales such as STEM III, GChM, MIRAGE, SCICHEM, CMAQ, CMAQ-MADRID, CAMx, MM5, WRF, and mesoscale and global-through-urban WRF/Chem, WRF/Chem-MADRID, WRF-CAM5, WRF/Chem-ROMS, and CESM/CAM5. Her group has also worked on Street-in-Grid models such as SinG, hydrological models such as WaSSI, and health modeling tools such as BenMAP-CE.

Dr. Zhang has devoted sustained efforts to solve some of the most pressing and challenging environment- and energy-related scientific and technical issues related to air and water pollution, acid deposition, global warming and other adverse climate change, as well as associated adverse human health and ecosystem impacts. Dr. Zhang’s research advances the scientific understanding of major atmospheric and environmental issues by developing and utilizing numerical models and analysis tools at various scales (from local to global) to address relevant science and policy questions pertaining to controlling air pollution, mitigating adverse climate change and human health, and minimizing environmental damages in the entire Earth system.


  • 1994 PhD in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering at University of Iowa
  • 1988 BS in Environmental Engineering at Tsinghua University

Honors & Awards

  • The 2017-2018 RTI University Scholar Awards, 2018
  • The FAPESP (The São Paulo Research Foundation, Brazil) Visiting Researcher Program Award, visiting professorship at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, 2017
  • The University of Wollongong (UOW) Vice – Chancellors Visiting International Scholar Award (VISA), 2017
  • Fellowship Award, visiting professorship at the Atmospheric Environment Center (CEREA), Ecole des Ponts ParisTech, Paris, France, 2017
  • Scholarship Award for Teacher-Researchers and Researchers and Visiting Scholars, the University of Paris-Est, Paris, France, 2017
  • National Science Foundation Career Award, 2004

Professional Affiliations

  • American Meteorological Society (AMS)
  • Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society
  • American Geophysical Union (AGU)
  • Air & Waste Management Association (A&WMA)

Research Overview

Air quality; atmospheric chemistry; cloud/aerosol microphysics; sensitivity and uncertainty analysis; multiscale atmospheric modeling and forecasting; climate and Earth system modeling; health impact assessment; eco-environmental sustainability; human-Earth system interactions

Dr. Zhang’s research focuses on the development, improvement, and evaluation of the state-of-the-science numerical models for simulating human-induced air pollution and its impact on human health, climate, eco-environment, society, and the entire Earth system. It spans from urban to global and from air quality to human health/climate change/Earth system and covers retrospective and forecasting applications. Using an interdisciplinary research approach, her group applies these models with advanced representations of chemical, physical, and meteorological processes in the atmosphere/Earth system in the U.S. and other areas in the world on multiple scales to solve the most pressing and challenging environment- and energy-related issues including air and water pollution, acid deposition, ecosystem degradation, global warming, and other adverse climate change, as well as associated adverse human health and ecosystem impacts.

Selected Research Projects

  • U.S. EPA Air, Climate and Energy (ACE) Centers: Solutions for Energy, AiR, Climate, and Health (SEARCH): Project 3: Improving Projections of the Spatial and Temporal Changes of Multi-Pollutants to Enhance Assessment of Public Health in a Changing World
    • – Principal Investigator, SEARCH, U.S. EPA
  • Towards Optimal Configurations of NAQFC Chemistry and Aerosol Representations
    • – Principal Investigator, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Framework: Software: Collaborative Research: CyberWater an Open and Sustainable Framework for Diverse Data and Model Integration with Provenance and Access to HPC
    • – Co-Principal Investigator, National Science Foundation

Selected Publications

Yang, P.-L., Y. Zhang, K. Wang, P. Doraiswamy, and S.-H. Cho, 2019, Health Impacts and Cost-Benefit Analyses of Surface O3 and PM2.5 over the U.S. under Future Climate and Emission Scenarios, Environmental Research, 178, November 2019, 108687, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2019.108687.

Hong, C.-P., Q. Zhang, Y. Zhang, S. J. Davis, S. J. Davis, D. Tong, Y.-X. Zheng, Z. Liu, D.-B. Guan, K.-B. He, and H. J. Schellnhuber, 2019, Impacts of climate change on future air quality and human health in China, PNAS, August issue, 1-8, https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1812881116.

Duan, K., P. V. Caldwell, G. Sun, S. G. McNulty, Y. Zhang, E. Shuster, B. Liu, and P. V. Bolstad, 2019, Understanding the role of regional water connectivity in mitigating climate change impacts on surface water supply stress in the United States, Journal of Hydrology, 570: 80-95, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhydrol.2019.01.011.

Goldberg, D.L., P. Gupta, K. Wang, C. Jena, Y. Zhang, Z.-F. Lu, and D. G. Streets, 2019, Using gap-filled MAIAC AOD and WRF-Chem to estimate daily PM2.5 concentrations at 1 km resolution in the eastern United States, Atmos. Environ., 199, 443-452, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.atmosenv.2018.11.049.

Zhang, J.-X., Y. Gao, K. Luo, L. R. Leung, Y. Zhang, K. Wang and J.-R. Fan, 2018, Impacts of compound extreme weather events on ozone in the present and future, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 18, 9861–987.

Campbell, P., F. Yan, Z.-F. Lu, Y. Zhang, D. Streets, 2018, Impacts of Transportation Sector Emissions on Future U.S. Air Quality in a Changing Climate. Part II: Air Quality Projections and the Interplay between Emissions and Climate Change, Environmental Pollution, 238:918-930. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2018.03.016.

Wang, K., Y. Zhang, X. Zhang, J.-W. Fan, L. R. Leung, B. Zheng, Q. Zhang, and K.-B. He, 2018, Fine-Scale Application of WRF-CAM5 during a dust storm episode over East Asia: Sensitivity to grid resolutions and aerosol activation parameterizations, Atmospheric Environment, 176, 1-20, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.atmosenv.2017.12.014.

Zhang, Y., J. He, and K. Wang, 2017, Multi-Year Application of WRF-CAM5 over East Asia- Part II. Interannual Variability, Trend Analysis, and Aerosol Indirect Effects, Atmospheric Environment, 165, 222–239, 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2017.06.029.

Glotfelty, T., J. He, and Y. Zhang, 2017, Improving Organic Aerosol Treatments in CESM/CAM5: Development, Application, and Evaluation, Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, 9(2), 1506–1539, DOI: 10.1002/2016MS000874.

Yahya, K., P. Campbell, and Y. Zhang, 2017, Decadal Application of WRF/Chem for Regional Air Quality and Climate Modeling over the U.S. under the Representative Concentration Pathways Scenarios. Part 2: Current vs. Future simulations, Atmospheric Environment, 152, 584–604, doi: 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2016.12.028.


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Nov 03, 2020

Spurring Undergraduate Research with the UPLIFT Scholars Program

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Aug 25, 2020

Air Quality and Human Health: Decreasing the Climate Penalty Through Pollution Control

In a new paper published in Nature Climate Change titled, “Weakening Aerosol Direct Radiative Effects Mitigate Climate Penalty On Chinese Air Quality,” CEE Professor and Distinguished Fellow Yang Zhang and her former visiting scholar and paper lead author Dr. Chaopeng Hong study how changes in Chinese government policies towards air pollution will affect human health.

Yang Zhang


Mar 26, 2020

Research Reveals Air Pollution Costs US Estimated $1B a Year in Perennial Crop Yield

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