Ryan Sullivan is an associate professor in the Departments of Chemistry and Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. He is also a faculty member in the Centre for Atmospheric Particle Studies. Sullivan has a background in atmospheric and analytical chemistry, single-particle analysis, heterogeneous kinetics, and cloud nucleation research. His research interests include the development of improved aircraft-deployable analytical instrumentation to characterize individual particles in the atmosphere in real-time. These instruments are used to investigate the physicochemical properties of atmospheric particles emitted and produced from a variety of sources, the chemical processes they experience during atmospheric transport, and how these processes modify the ability of particles to nucleate both cloud droplets and ice crystals, thus altering cloud properties and the Earth’s climate. These research endeavors involve equal parts instrument development, laboratory experiments, and field measurements.

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Ryan Sullivan

Understanding Climate Change Through Clouds


2008 Ph.D., Chemistry, University of California, San Diego

2006 MS, Chemistry, University of California, San Diego

2002 BS, Chemistry, University of Toronto

Media mentions

CMU Engineering

Changing the tune of magnetic materials

Professor Michael McHenry is part of a team of researchers receiving the Carnegie Science Award for Advanced Manufacturing and Materials.

CMU Engineering

Sullivan uses Nobel Prize winning technology to study airborne particles

Ryan Sullivan uses the Nobel Prize winning technology of optical tweezers to study airborne particles.

Royal Society of Chemistry

Sullivan named Emerging Investigator by Royal Society of Chemistry

MechE’s Ryan Sullivan was named an Emerging Investigator by the Royal Society of Chemistry, and the Society published an interview with him in which he discusses his research.

CMU Engineering

The freezing behavior of particle mixtures

Does bacteria on dust particles change the overall ice nucleation properties of the particles? Ryan Sullivan investigates.

Gordon Research Conferences

Faculty participate at Atmospheric Chemistry Gordon Research Conference

MechE’s Ryan Sullivan was invited to speak at the Atmospheric Chemistry Gordon Research Conference in Newry, Maine. ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue served as co-vice chair of the conference.

CMU Engineering

Department news

Stay up-to-date with each department of Carnegie Mellon’s College of Engineering.

CMU Engineering

Making it rain

MechE Assistant Professor Ryan Sullivan and his team have evaluated the common method that researchers use to predict whether or not particles will cause clouds to freeze.

CMU Engineering

Tweezing out the properties of particles

Assistant Professor Ryan Sullivan and his research team have developed a way to isolate a single particle to study the way it individually interacts with the atmosphere.

CMU Engineering

NSF recognizes up-and-coming faculty

Four Carnegie Mellon Engineering professors have received The National Science Foundation’s Early Career Development Award (CAREER) awards so far this year.

CMU Engineering

Ice from flame

How on earth can fires freeze clouds?