Campus News in Brief

Study finds skin-aging free radicals affect air particles

A study by a group of researchers, led by Carnegie Mellon chemistry, chemical engineering, and engineering and public policy professor Neil Donahue, has determined that natural air particles are affected by the same free radicals that age human skin.

“We have been able to show conclusively that biogenics are chemically transformed in the atmosphere. They’re not just static. They keep going, they keep changing and they keep growing,” Donahue said in a university press release.

“Quite a few atmospheric models, [...] have been assuming that that doesn’t happen.

What we really need to have in the models is an accurate representation of what’s really going on in the atmosphere, and that’s what this lets us do.”

Since free radicals can transform the chemical composition of air pollutants, the team’s findings could have an effect on air quality predictions and regulations.

“There’s a very, very strong body of data that establishes that fine particles in the air we breathe have a significant bad effect on people.

What is less well understood is how the size and chemical composition of those particles influences that effect,” Donahue said in the press release.

Donahue’s team also included researchers from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, the Forschungszentrum Jülich, the Johannes Gutenberg University, the University of Gothenberg, the University of Copenhagen, and the Paul Scherrer Institute.

Professor’s Bayesian book wins biannual DeGroot Prize

Carnegie Mellon statistics professor Jay Kadane’s book, Principles of Uncertainty, won the International Society for Bayesian Analysis’ DeGroot Prize.

Kadane’s book attempts to explain Bayesian statistics and mathematics. “This book addresses how to think about uncertainty,” Kadane said in the book’s preface.

“It is addressed to those who want to know ‘why.’ I have chosen a particular point of view, the subjective Bayesian view, because this approach has best survived the tumult of doing statistical applications and worrying about the meaning behind the calculations.”

“Jay Kadane’s book ... carries out two fundamental dimensions of Jay’s career in statistics: the subjective Bayesian foundations of the field of statistics and the critical importance that statistical thinking and methods must play in a wide range of application areas,” said John Lehoczky, dean of the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, in a university press release.

The press release quotes Christian P. Robert, professor of statistics at Université Paris-Dauphine, as saying, “It represents the legacy he [Kadane] wants to leave for the future. And this is a legacy Jay can certainly be proud of!”

The DeGroot Prize, awarded every two years to a statistical science book, is named after Morris H. DeGroot, the founding head of the statistics department at Carnegie Mellon.