Dr. Ng is the Love Family Professor in the School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering and the School of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She earned her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology and was a postdoctoral scientist at Aerodyne Research Inc.
Dr. Ng’s research focuses on the understanding of the chemical mechanisms of aerosol formation and composition, as well as their health effects. Her group combines laboratory chamber studies and ambient field measurements to study aerosols and air quality using advanced mass spectrometry techniques. Dr. Ng leads the establishment of the first, high time-resolution, long-term aerosol measurement network in the U.S.: Atmospheric Science and Chemistry mEasurement NeTwork (ASCENT), for characterization of aerosol chemical composition and physical properties, and their impacts on climate, human health, and ecosystems.
We recently caught up with Dr. Ng to learn more about what inspires her research, her vision for ACS ES&T Air, and her advice for emerging researchers who are developing their careers.
Read the Interview with Dr. Nga Lee (Sally) Ng
What does it mean for you to be Editor-in-Chief of ACS ES&T Air?
I consider the opportunity to serve as the inaugural Editor-in-Chief of ACS E&ST Air an incredible honor and opportunity. ACS ES&T Air launches at a time when air composition and chemistry are rapidly changing worldwide with major transitions in energy systems, infrastructure, and land use, accompanied by profound impacts on climate, human health, and ecosystems. I look forward to working with the editorial team and the broader ACS teams as we make ACS ES&T Air an exciting new platform for high quality, impactful air research in the ES&T family of journals.
What is your vision for ACS ES&T Air, and how do you hope the community will benefit from research published in the journal?
We envision ACS ES&T Air to be a premier platform for authors from around the world to submit their best and most exciting air research work, and for readers to turn to the journal to find multidisciplinary, novel, cutting-edge, and impactful advances in air research. Addressing air quality and climate challenges requires experts from diverse backgrounds to come together. The journal will serve as a home to different communities working on air-related topics to learn about each other’s work, cultivate transformative research across multiple subdisciplines and disciplines, and drive new discoveries and better solutions.
What initially attracted you to your field?
As an undergraduate student in Hong Kong, I was drawn to a research group that studies atmospheric aerosols and air pollution. I joined the group as an undergraduate researcher and was excited to apply my knowledge in chemical engineering to air quality research. I also participated in an undergraduate exchange program to Minnesota, USA, and was very impressed by the good air quality there. I started thinking about choosing a career path to help to solve the air pollution problem. Upon graduation, I decided to come back to the USA to pursue a PhD to study aerosols as I was fascinated by this research topic and wanted to learn more.
What are you currently working on, and what excites you most about it?
My research group studies aerosols, air quality, and health effects. We conduct both fundamental laboratory experiments and ambient field measurements, using advanced mass spectrometry and low-cost sensing techniques. Some exciting projects that we are currently working on include interactions of anthropogenic pollutants and natural emissions in aerosol formation, chemical transformation of wildfire smoke, urban air quality and changing reaction regimes, as well as linking aerosol chemical composition to its toxicity. I am also leading the establishment of an exciting new, advanced long-term measurement network in the USA for the characterization of aerosol chemical composition and physical properties, known as the Atmospheric Science and Chemistry mEasurement NeTwork (ASCENT).
As Editor-in-Chief of ACS ES&T Air, what are you looking for in a paper?
We welcome novel, cutting-edge, and globally relevant original research on all aspects of outdoor and indoor air quality sciences and engineering. We look for papers that report innovative scientific advances and contribute substantial new insights and knowledge on various aspects of research on air quality. In addition to research articles, we also welcome reviews, perspectives, features, viewpoints, and policy analyses on diverse and globally relevant air-related topics.
Do you have any advice for emerging researchers for their career development?
I would suggest for them to take the time to identify the topics that they are most passionate and deeply care about, topics that no matter what challenges come along the way, it will not stop them from pursuing their paths. I think it is also helpful to form small peer groups and identify supportive mentors, to help share the ups and downs along their career paths, to support each other, and to provide advice.