Yafang Cheng


Employment:        Head of Minerva 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 and multi-scale modeling tools 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 150 peer-reviewed journal articles including 6 hot papers (top 0.1%), 15 highly-cited papers (top 1%) and several publications in internationally high impact journals (5 in Science, 2 in Science Advances, 3 in PNAS, 1 in Chem (Cell press)1 in Nature Geoscience, 2 in Nature Communications, 1 in One Earth (Cell press)1 in Accounts for Chemical Research) with wide international press coverage (e.g., Bloomberg, Wired, Discovery News Channel, Chemistry World, Chemistry Views, Xinhua News, Science News and Tages-Anzeiger etc.); several book/book chapters (English/Chinese).

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 (> 9500) that keeps growing and is currently ranked top 10 of over 77 thousand publications in Science and in the top 0.001% of 22 million research outputs worldwide (Nov 2022). 

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

Citation report Web of Science: h-index = 48 & > 9100 citations ( Web of Science )
Citation report Google scholar:  h-index = 59 & > 13100 citations ( Google Scholar )

Professional Career

Since 2014        Head of Minerva Research Group, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany
2021-2024         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

2022                   Fellow of American Geophysics Union (AGU)
2022                   Member of Academia Europaea
2022                   Joanne Simpson Medal, American Geophysics 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
2021                   World's top 2% most-cited scientists, Stanford University Analysis & Mendeley
2020                   Atmospheric Science Ascent Award, American Geophysics Union (AGU)
2020                   Schmauss Award, German Association for Aerosol Research (GAef)
2020                   World's top 2% most-cited 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

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

•    Honor committee member for Atmospheric Sciences Ascent Award of AGU
•    Senior editor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP) overseeing the subject area of aerosols
•    Co-editor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP)
•    Liaison for Atmospheric Sciences Division of European Geosciences Union (EGU)
•    Steering Committee member of the Exploratory Round Table Conference (ERTC)
     between the Max Planck Society (MPG) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS)
•    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) and and Swedish Research Council (VR)
•    Invited commentator on air pollution control by Ministry of Environment Protection of China
•    Examiner/opponent and reviewer for PhD and master thesis at JGU (Mainz, Germany), MPGC, CEREA (Paris, France),
      Peking University (Beijing, China), Nanjing University (Nanjing, China), Tianjin University (Tianjin, China)
•    Reviewer for Science, PNAS, Nature Nanotechnology, Nature Chemistry, Nature Geosciences,
      Nature Communications, Science Advances, AGU Advances, Angewandte Chemie, ACP, JGR, GRL, ES&T etc.

Supervision and teaching

•    Principal advisor/co-advisor and mentor for 20 postdocs & 17 PhD students in my research group
     at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Germany.
     Several of my students and postdocs have published first author papers in Science, Science Advances,
     PNAS, Nature Communications, Chem, One Earth etc. and/or have become professors or tenured senior
     scientists at leading universities and research institutes.
•    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), University of Science and Technology of China (Hefei), and Jinan University

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.
2014-2019         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, the US National Atmospheric and Oceanic
                            Administration (NOAA), and the 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

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

Selected keynote lectures & invited presentations

International conferences: 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 American Geophysical Union (AGU, 2020) and 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: Institute of Physics, Heidelberg University (2022); ESSIC Seminar, 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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