Mainz’ Aerosol Researcher receives Otto Hahn Medal

Influence of aerosols on climate and health investigated: a former graduate student at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry is honored for outstanding achievement.

June 11, 2012

Dr. Manabu Shiraiwa has been awarded the Otto Hahn Medal of the Max Planck Society for his path-breaking discoveries about the progression of chemical reactions on the surface of and inside aerosol particles. During his time at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry as a graduate student, Dr. Shiraiwa gained new insights into the molecular mechanisms that are of definitive importance to the influence of aerosols on the climate of the earth and human health.

This medal is one of the highest honors for a young scientist to receive at the beginning of one’s career. Since 1978 the Otto Hahn medal has been awarded yearly to young researchers for outstanding scientific achievement. Manabu Shiraiwa, who is from Japan, impressed the jury with his research, entitled “Kinetic modeling and experiments on gas uptake and chemical transformation of organic aerosol in the atmosphere.”

Manabu Shiraiwa focused on central questions at the interface of current research in the Environmental, Geological and Social Sciences. Through laboratory experiments and computer modeling he discovered that long-lived oxygen intermediates are formed in the reaction of ozone with aerosol particles. These intermediates play a key role in the chemical ageing and interaction of toxic and allergenic fine dust components such as soot, polycyclic-aromatic hydrocarbons, and pollen proteins. Additionally, the 29 year old proved that the phase state of the organic aerosol particles varies between solid, semi-solid and liquid depending on humidity and air temperature thus definitively influencing the speed of chemical reactions.

Manabu Shiraiwa has made a definite contribution to the understanding of the climatic and health effects of aerosols with his ambitious research project and the resulting knowledge; stated the review panel of the Max Planck Society about their decision. A number of publications in prestigious international journals also reflect his outstanding achievements. Dr. Shiraiwa worked as a post-doctoral fellow for six months at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry after completing his doctoral studies and currently has a post doctorate position at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena (USA) where he is continuing his research.

The Otto Hahn Medal will be awarded during the General Meeting of the Max Planck Society in Düsseldorf on June 13th, 2012. The scientists receiving this award also receive prize money in the amount of 7,500 Euro. (AR)

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