Dr. James N. Smith

Contact Information

Dr. Smith is interested in understanding the chemical processes responsible for the formation of nanometer-sized particles in the atmosphere, as well as studying their impacts on human health and the Earth’s climate. To accomplish this, he develops instruments, like the Thermal Desorption Chemical Ionization Mass Spectrometer and the Cluster Chemical Ionization Mass Spectrometer, for determining the molecular composition of ambient nanoparticles and key gas-phase precursors. He uses these instruments in laboratory experiments and on field campaigns all over the world; recent campaigns have taken place at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, the forests of Central Finland and the Colorado Rocky Mountains, and the Amazon rainforest of Brazil.
He has previously served as a Scientist in the Atmospheric Chemistry Observations and Modeling Laboratory at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado as well as Research Director in the Department of Applied Physics at the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio, Finland.  He brings to the ORU expertise in measurements of atmospheric chemical composition as well as design and development of unique laboratory apparati and field instruments.
At NCAR from 2000–2015, he led the development of the Thermal Desorption Chemical Ionization Mass Spectrometer (TDCIMS), an instrument that can measure the molecular composition of atmospheric nanometer-sized particles. He also developed the Biogenic Aerosol Chamber for studying the formation of secondary organic aerosol from the photo-oxidation of real plant emissions.  Dr. Smith designed and coordinated the development of the Manitou Experimental Forest Observatory—a ground-based research site in Colorado studying the fundamental biogeochemical processes that link and regulate the carbon and water cycles.  Dr. Smith has published more than 60 peer-reviewed journal articles and written or contributed to a number of books.
Research areas Simulations of Air / Water Pollution and Climate; Chemistry, Processes, and Measurements

  • 2000:  Ph.D. Environmental Science and Engineering, Chemistry Minor, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California
  • 1984:  B.S. Physics, Philosophy Minor, Harvey Mudd College, Claremont, California
Research Interests: 

Research group site: https://sites.uci.edu/uagroup

Selected Honors and Awards: 
1999: Lund University Research Fellow, Lund University, Sweden
2000: Herbert Newby McCoy Award for Outstanding Research in Chemistry, Chemistry Department, California Institute of Technology
2003: Nominee for NCAR Scientific Technical Advancement Award
2009: Kenneth T. Whitby Award, in recognition of outstanding contributions to aerosol science and technology by a beginning scientist; American Association for Aerosol Research
2014-2017: Brazilian Science Mobility Program (Programa Ciência sem Fronteiras) Special Visiting Researcher Scholarship