Yafang Cheng


Employment:        Head of Minerva Independent Research Group
                                Max Planck Institute for Chemistry 
Work address:       Hahn-Meitner-Weg 1
                                55128, Mainz, Germany 
Phone:                    +49-6131-305-7200


Research Interests

Aerosols are at the center of my research interests. I am developing and combining experimental methods, multi-scale modeling tools and machine learning techniques to advance mechanistic understanding of aerosol particle formation and transformation, as well as the impact of aerosols on air quality, public health and climate change.


Over 180 peer-reviewed journal articles, incl. 6 hot papers (top 0.1%) & 15 highly cited papers (top 1%); 21 publications in high impact journals (incl. 5 in Science, 2 in Science Advances, 3 in PNAS, 2 in Chem, 2 in Nature Geoscience, 3 in Nature Communications, 3 in One Earth; 15 as first/corresponding lead authors) with wide international press coverage (e.g., BBC, Bloomberg, Wired, Discovery News Channel, Chemistry World, Chemistry Views, Xinhua News, Science News and Tages-Anzeiger); several book/book chapters.

Our recent publication in Science (2021) was the first to explain quantitatively how “Face masks effectively limit the probability of SARS-CoV-2 transmission” at individual and population levels. It has been elected as “Science Breakthroughs of the Year 2021 in Physical Sciences” by the Falling Walls Foundation, and become a key reference for authorities, media, and the public discourse about COVID-19, which is reflected by an outstanding AltMetric Score (> 9700) that keeps growing and is currently ranked top 10 of over 78 thousand publications in Science and in the top 0.001% of ~24 million research outputs worldwide (Nov 2023). 

Highly Cited Researcher (top 0.1%, Web of Science & Clarivate, 2021, 2022)

Citation report Web of Science: h-index = 54 & > 11000 citations ( Web of Science )
Citation report Google scholar:  h-index = 66 & > 16000 citations ( Google Scholar )

Professional Career

Since 2014        Head of Minerva Independent Research Group, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany
Since 2023        Guest Professor, Peking University, Beijing, China
2021-2023         Distinguished Guest Professor, University of Science and Technology of China (USTC), Hefei, China
2014-2017         Guest Professor, Institute of Polar Environment, USTC, Hefei, China
2013-2014         Research group leader, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany
2012-2013         Visiting Scientist, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany
2011-2013         Assistant Professor, Peking University, Beijing, China
2009-2011         Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Iowa, Iowa City, USA
2007-2009         Postdoctoral Scholar, Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research, Leipzig, Germany


2001-2007         Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing, China
2004-2007         Ph.D. exchange studies, Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research, Leipzig, Germany
1997-2001         B.Sc. in Environmental Sciences, Wuhan University, Wuhan, China

Awards and Honors

2023                   Fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
2022                   Fellow of American Geophysical Union (AGU)
2022                   Member of Academia Europaea
2022                   Joanne Simpson Medal, American Geophysical Union (AGU)
2022                   Highly Cited Researcher (top 0.1%), Web of Science & Clarivate
2021                   Highly Cited Researcher (top 0.1%), Web of Science & Clarivate
2021                   Science Breakthroughs of the Year 2021 in Physical Sciences, Falling Walls Foundation
2020                   Atmospheric Science Ascent Award, American Geophysical Union (AGU)
2020                   Schmauss Award, German Association for Aerosol Research (GAef)
2020-2023         World's Top Scientists, Stanford University Analysis & Mendeley
2014                   Minerva Outstanding Female Scientist Award, Max Planck Society (MPG)
2014                   Top 10 publications, Integrated Land Ecosystem - Atmosphere Processes Study,
                            Global Research Project of Future Earth (iLEAPS)
2012                   Highest Impact Research Work of Chinese Scientists in 2011,
                            Chinese Academy of Science (CAS), in total 19 works from all disciplinary
2011                   "100 Talent" Award, Peking University
2004-2007         Daimler-Chrysler-Benz Fellowship, Peking University & Daimler-Chrysler-Benz Foundation
1998-2001         Bao-Gang Award (top 0.1%), Outstanding Student Awards (top 1%), Wuhan University

Research leadership and expeditions

2024-2027         PI, HORIZON-RIA Research and Innovation Actions, EU-China Climate Change and
                             Biodiversity Research Flagship project “Pathways towards Carbon Neutrality for
                             Climate, Environment, Health and Socio-Economic Co-Benefits” (PANTHEON),
                             funded by Horizon Europe Framework Programme (HORIZON)
2024-2028         PI & Management Board Member, the Potentialbereich EXPOHEALTH, Univ. Mainz
2024-2026         Host PI, HORIZON TMA Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) Postdoctoral Fellowships
                             - European Fellowships, funded by Horizon Europe Framework Programme (HORIZON)
2023-2024         Host PI, Humboldt Research Fellowship, funded by Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung
Since 2019        PI, S/Y Eugen Seibold-SP2 marine black carbon observations
2018-2020         Coordinator, three international field measurement campaigns for “The Multiphase chemistry
                            experiment in Fogs and Aerosols in the North China Plain (McFAN)”
2017-2019         PI, National Key R&D Program of China, No. 2017YFC0210104,
                            funded by MOST of China (analogous to ERC Synergy Grant)
2017-2018         PI, project AEROCARB, No. ESA 4000120532, funded by European Space Agency (ESA)
2016-2019         Unit head, MPIC-JNU Anthropocene Research Program funded by Jinan University (JNU)
2014-2021         PI, Minerva Research Group, funded by Max Planck Society
2014-2018         PI, Thermodynamics and kinetics of single aerosol particle chemistry (AOT-100),
                            funded by Max Planck Society (Großgeräteantrag)
Since 2014        PI, CARIBIC-SP2 global black carbon observations with passenger aircraft
2013-2016         PI/international partner, Key program No. 41330635, funded by NSFC
2013                   PI, black carbon and related aerosol volatility observations in the Campaigns of Air Quality Research in
                            Beijing and Surrounding Regions (CAREBEIJING-2013)
2011-2012         WP leader, WP3 of the MIX-ASIA initiative of multiple model inter-comparison in Asia 

Positions of trust and consulting

•    Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Geophyscial Research - Atmospheres (since 2023)
•    Member of AGU Meetings Committee (since 2024)
•    Committee member of CNAA (The Committee on Nucleation & Atmospheric Aerosols, 2023-2025)
•    Honor committee member for Atmospheric Sciences Ascent Award of AGU (since 2022)
•    Senior editor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP) overseeing the subject area of aerosols (2020-2022)
•    Co-editor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP, since 2013)
•    Liaison for Atmospheric Sciences Division of European Geosciences Union (EGU, since 2013)
•    Steering Committee member of the Exploratory Round Table Conference (ERTC)
     between the Max Planck Society (MPG) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) (2019)
•    ETH-Medal reviewer for the ETH Zurich
•    Jury/panelist and/or reviewer for ANR (French National Research Agency), Swiss National Science Foundation
      (SNSF), FWF-Der Wissenschaftsfonds (Austrian Science Fund), Swedish Research Council (VR),
      and US Department of Energy (DOE).
•    Invited commentator on air pollution control by Ministry of Environment Protection of China
•    Opponent/examiner and/or reviewer for PhD and master thesis at JGU (Mainz, Germany), MPGC,   
      University of Helsinki, CEREA (Paris, France), Peking University and Nanjing University,
      Tianjin University (Tianjin, China) etc.
•    Reviewer for Science, PNAS, Nature Nanotechnology, Nature Chemistry, Nature Geosciences,
      Nature Communications, Science Advances, AGU Advances, Angewandte Chemie, ACP, JGR, GRL, ES&T etc.

Scientific Teaching & Mentoring

•    Principal advisor/co-advisor and mentor for 21 postdocs & 17 PhD students in my research group
     at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Germany (>50% supported by external funding). My students
     and postdocs have
     -  published first author papers in high-impact journals (>10, in Science, Science Advances, PNAS,
        Nature Geoscience, Nature Communications, Chem, One Earth etc.)
     -  become professors, faculty members and tenured senior scientists at leading universities, research
        institutes and government agencies (12, incl. Tsinghua, Zhejiang & Birmingham Univ.,
        Norwegian Met. Institute and Environmental Protection Agency (UBA), Germany etc.)
     -  received international awards and fellowships, incl. HORIZON TMA Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions
        (MSCA) Postdoctoral Fellowships - European Fellowships, Humboldt Research Fellowship,
         EGU Union Outstanding Early Career Scientist Award, ACS James J. Morgan Award (mentioning)
         & CSC Award for Outstanding Self-Financed Students Abroad etc.
•    Lectures in atmospheric chemistry, advances in atmospheric sciences, synthetic research approach 
     combining observation and modeling, as well as scientific writing for graduate students at Peking
     University (Beijing), Nanjing University (NJU) & Univeristy of Helsinki (UHEL) joint school,
     University of Science and Technology of China (Hefei), and Jinan University (Guangzhou)

Institutional responsibilities

Since 2014        Initiator and co-coordinator of student and postdoc exchange programs, such as the
                            Anthropocene Research Program among Max Planck Institute for Chemistry (MPIC),
                            Peking University and Jinan University, as well as excellency cluster programs of China
                            Scholarship Council between MPIC and Peking University, and between MPIC, University of
                            Glasgow, Forschungszentrum Jülich (IBG-3), University of Birmingham, Tianjin University.
Since 2014        Host for MPG/CAS Exploratory Round Table Conference steering committee meeting, as
                            well as presidential delegations and other representatives of Peking University, Jinan
                            University, Tsinghua University, USTC, CAS,  Hongkong Poly Univ., the Korea
                            Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), the US National Atmospheric and Oceanic
                            Administration (NOAA), and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) etc.
Since 2013        Lab manager and graduate student advisor, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and Max
                            Planck Graduate Center with the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany
2011-2013        Class advisor of undergraduate students and graduate student advisor, College of
                            Environmental Sciences and Engineering, Peking University, China
2001-2002        Vice President of Graduate Student Union of Peking University, Peking University, China
1998-2001        President of Student Union of College of Chemistry and Environmental sciences,
                            Wuhan University, China

Organization of scientific meetings

2019-2021, 2024        Session convener/chair, Annual Meeting of European Geoscience Union (EGU)
2023                             Organizer, WE-Heraeus Seminar on “Aerosols, Health and Climate: Gigacity and Future”
2019-2022                   Session convener/chair, Annual Fall Meeting of American Geophysical Union (AGU)
2017                             Co-organizer, International Symposium on Regional Air Quality Management in Rapidly
                                       Developing Economic Regions (Guangzhou, China)

Selected plenary talks, keynote lectures & invited presentations

International conferences and symposiums:

•    Annual Meetings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
     (AAAS, Panelist & invited speaker, 2024)
•    Annual Meetings of the American Geophysical Union (AGU, 2020; 2023);
•    Computational statistical physics in the 21st century: The legacy of Kurt Binder (2023);
•    The 21st International Conference on Nucleation & Atmospheric Aerosols
     (ICNAA, Brisbane, Australia, plenary talk, 2023
•    Leopoldina Symposium (COVID-19: Infection-Immunity-Vaccination, 2022);
•    ERC funded Workshop on Atmospheric Transport and Economic Valuation of Air Pollution (Mannheim, 2022);
•    Falling Walls Science Summit (Berlin, 2021);
•    Annual Meetings of the European Geosciences Union (EGU, 2017);
•    MPG/CAS Exploratory Round Table Conference (Shanghai, 2019);
•    CTWF International Symposium on Aerosol and Climate Change (Beijing, 2019);
•    Conference on Air Benefit and Cost and Attainment Assessment (Hangzhou, 2019);
•    Air Pollution Extremes Workshop (New York City, 2018);
•    CLOUD-TRAIN Marie Curie Initial Training Network Conference (Königstein, 2016);
•    Symposium of the Sino-German Center for Research Promotion (Beijing, 2016);
•    Aerosol Health Effects Workshop of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and Germany
     Research Foundation (JSPS-DFG, Mainz, 2015);
•    European Nitrogen Cycle Meeting (ENC, Darmstadt, 2013).

Scientific institutions and agencies:
•   Centre for Atmospheric Science (CAS), University of Cambridge (London, 2024);
•   Laboratory of Atmospheric Chemistry (LAC), Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) & ETH Zürich (2023);
•   Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-organizations (Göttingen, 2023);
•   ACS Pubs Webinar: Grand Challenges in Environmental Chemistry (2023);
•   Institute of Physics, Heidelberg University (Heidelberg, 2022);
•   ESSIC Seminar, Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center, University of Maryland (2022);
•   Institute of Atmospheric Physics, German Aerospace Center (DLR, 2020);
•   Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research (Leipzig, 2020);
•   Max Planck Institute for Meteorology (Hamburg, 2019);
•   Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences (Beijing, 2017);
•   Institute of Polar Environment, University of Science and Technology of China (Hefei, 2017);
•   School of Atmospheric Sciences, Nanjing University (2014);
•   Atmospheric Modeling and Analysis Division, United States Environmental Protection Agency
    (USEPA, Research Triangle Park, NC, 2013).

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