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Marwa El-Sayed

Marwa El-Sayed PHOTO 300x300“UMBC is a small warm community. Since UMBC is a small community one gets to meet other graduate students from other disciplines to hear about their research and their experience.”




Hometown: Cairo, Egypt

Degree Program: Environmental Engineering (Ph.D.)

Expected year of graduation: 2017

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Christopher Hennigan

Thesis/research topic: Investigating the Formation of Secondary Organic Aerosols in Atmospheric Liquid Water

Awards: Travel grant to attend the 35th AAAR conference in Portland, Oregon in 2016

Undergraduate Study:
2008, Chemical Engineering, Cairo University 

Previous Graduate Study:
2010, Engineering for Sustainable Development, University of Cambridge, UK

Why did you decide to attend UMBC?
I have always had a passion to the environment so I was attracted to the research my advisor is conducting regarding air pollution.

What are some of the benefits of being part of the graduate community at UMBC?
Since UMBC is a small community one gets to meet other graduate students from other disciplines occasionally to hear about their research and their experience.

What is your favorite thing about UMBC?
UMBC is a small warm community.  

Briefly describe your graduate research and its purpose/applications.
Air pollution is a significant problem with several negative effects on society. Our current research focuses on one important class of pollutants known as aerosols and in particular the organic portion of aerosols. Aerosols are extremely small solid or liquid particles suspended in the atmosphere. They have many detrimental consequences on human health, visibility reduction, climate change as well as effects on Earth’s climate as they scatter and absorb solar radiation and ultimately impact the radiative properties of clouds. Of particular interest are secondary organic aerosols (SOA) which comprise approximately 70% of the annual global production of total organic matter.  The present work focuses on the formation of secondary organic aerosols through aqueous processes (aqSOA) that has been identified as an important route in forming organic aerosols; however, many aspects of aqSOA formation are still uncertain. State-of-the-art literature shows clear discrepancies in explaining SOA formation, possibly due to major uncertainties in understanding the pathways, sources as well as the precursors involved in the formation process. Thus, identification of reactions forming these particles requires a better understanding of the pathways that govern their formation. Our research aims to better understand the sources and processes that affect atmospheric aerosol concentrations in order to formulate solutions that could help reducing the associated undesired impact of air pollution. 

Have you worked on any specific research projects that you would like to highlight?
The project that I currently work on focuses on characterizing the reversible and irreversible formation of aqSOA to provide insight into the main factors which govern the uptake of organic gases into aerosol liquid water. As a result of tis work, I have published two journal papers and one conference paper. Moreover, I have presented this work in a number of conferences in Portland (OR), Berkeley (CA) and Chapel Hill (NC) in addition to several local conferences at UMB and Collage Park, MD.

What are your plans after graduation from UMBC?
I plan to pursue a career in academia so my first step will be to look for a postdoctoral position after which I will apply for an assistant professor position.

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