Project Description

Colette Heald

Associate Professor and Associate Department Head of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Associate Professor of Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences

Research Interests: atmospheric composition and chemistry


Parsons Laboratory
Room 48-335
15 Vassar Street
Cambridge, MA, 02139

Telephone: 617.324.5666
Assistant: Jacqueline Foster /
Research Website:


  • B.Sc. 2000, Engineering Physics, Queen’s University
  • Ph.D 2005, Earth and Planetary Science, Harvard University

Research Interests

My research interests are global atmospheric composition and chemistry, and interactions of these with the biosphere and climate system. This includes the study of both particles and gases in the troposphere, their sources, sinks, transformations, long range transport and environmental impacts. I work at the intersection of modeling and observational analysis, with a strong emphasis on the integration of the two. This involves using observations of the atmosphere from all scales: from ground stations, aircraft campaigns and satellite sensors with global models of chemistry and climate.

Teaching Interests

  • 1.085/12.336 Air Pollution
  • 1.841/12.817J Atmospheric Composition in the Changing Earth System
  • 1.013 Senior Civil and Environmental Engineering Design

Selected Publications

  1. Ridley, D.A., C.L. Heald, J.M. Prospero (2014), What controls the recent changes in African mineral dust aerosol across the Atlantic?, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 14, 5735-5747, doi:10.5194/acp-14-5735-2014.
  2. Tai, A.P.K., M. Val Martin, C.L. Heald (2014), Threat to future global food security from climate change and ozone air pollution, Nature Climate Change, doi:10.1038/nclimate2317.
  3. Wang, X., C.L. Heald, D.A. Ridley, J.P. Schwarz, J.R. Spackman, A.E. Perring,H. Coe, D. Liu, and A.D. Clarke (2014), Exploiting Simultaneous Observational Constraints on Mass and Absorption to Estimate the Global Direct Radiative Forcing of Black Carbon and Brown Carbon, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 14, 10989-11010, doi:10.5194/acp-14-10989-2014.
  4. Porter, W.C., C.L. Heald, D. Cooley, B. Russell (2015), Investigating the observed sensitivities of air-quality extremes to meteorological drivers via quantile regression, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 15, 10349-10366, doi:10.5194/acp-15-10349-2015.
  5. Ford, B., C.L. Heald (2016), Exploring the Uncertainty Associated with Satellite-Based Estimates of Premature Mortality due to Exposure to Fine Particulate Matter, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 3499-3523, doi:10.5194/acp-16-3499-2016.
  6. Heald, C.L. and J.A. Geddes (2016), The Impact of Historical Land Use Change From 1850 to 2000 on Particulate Matter and Ozone, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 14997–15010, doi:10.5194/acp-16-14997-2016.
  7. Heald, C.L., J.L. Collett Jr., T. Lee, K.B. Benedict, F.M. Schwandner, Y. Li, L. Clarisse, D.R. Hurtmans, M. Van Damme, C. Clerbaux, P.-F. Coheur, H.O.T. Pye (2012), Atmospheric ammonia and particulate inorganic nitrogen over the United States, Atmos Chem Phys, 12, 10295-10312.
  8. Heald, C.L., et al. (2011), Exploring atmospheric organic aerosol: Comparing 17 aircraft field campaigns with a global model, ACP, 11, 12673-12696.
  9. Heald, C.L., D.A. Ridley, S.M. Kreidenweis, E.E. Drury (2010), Satellite observations cap the atmospheric organic aerosol budget, Geophys. Res. Lett., 37, L24808, doi:10.1029/2010GL045095.
  10. Heald, C.L., J.H. Kroll, J.L. Jimenez, K.S. Docherty, P.F. DeCarlo, A.C. Aiken, Q. Chen, S.T. Martin, D.K. Farmer, P. Artaxo (2010), A simplified description of the evolution of organic aerosol composition in the atmosphere, Geophys. Res. Lett., 37, L08803, doi:10.1029/2010GL042737.
  11. Heald, C.L., D.V. Spracklen (2009), Atmospheric budget of primary biological aerosol particles from fungal spores, Geophysical Research Letters, 36, L09806, doi:10.1029/2009GL037493.
  12. Heald, C. L., M. J. Wilkinson, R. K. Monson, C. A. Alo, G. Wang, and A. Guenther (2009), Response of isoprene emission to ambient CO2 changes and implications for global budgets, Global Change Biology, 15, 4, 1127-1140.