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In Memoriam - Dr. Barbara Zielinska

A memorial service for Barbara is scheduled for Friday, August 18, 2017 at the Mountain View Mausoleum, Meditation Chapel, 435 Stoker Avenue Reno at 12 p.m. (noon).

After the service there will be a reception at Bavarian World, 575 Valley Road, from 1:30p.m. to 3:30p.m.

Following the reception, a DRI memorial service will be held at DRI Reno's campus (2215 Raggio Parkway, Stout Conference Rooms A-B), beginning at 4 p.m. If you would like to attend the DRI portion of the Memorial please RSVP to Michelle Lopez (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

Our friend and colleague Dr. Barbara Zielinska passed away on July 26th, 2017.

barbarazDuring her time at DRI she served as the director of the Organic Analytical Laboratory (OAL), until her retirement in 2015. Prior to coming to DRI, she was an Associate Research Chemist for the Statewide Air Pollution Research Center (SAPRAC), University of California, Riverside, where she conducted research on the mechanism of formation of mutagenic derivatives of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons under the influence of gaseous atmospheric pollutants.

Dr. Zielinska’s areas of research interest included collection and analysis of trace atmospheric organic species present in both the gas and particle phases; development of analytical methods for speciation of primary and secondary particulate organic matter; kinetics and products of gas-phase reactions of organics; measurement methods for volatile, semi-volatile, and particulate phase compounds in ambient air; particle-associated and volatile organic compound emissions from various sources, including diesel- and gasoline-powered vehicles, wood combustion, biomass burning, and meat cooking.

Throughout her career Dr. Zielinska made significant contributions to air quality research, advancing understanding of chemical processes that affect air quality, visibility, climate, and ultimately human health. When Dr. Zielinska joined DRI in 1989, DRI was widely known for the capabilities of the Environmental Analysis Facility (EAF) led by Drs. Chow and Watson. Leadership in what was then DRI’s Center for Energy and Environmental Engineering wisely identified the need for a second analytical cornerstone, an Organic Analytical Laboratory (OAL), and even more wisely hired Dr. Zielinska to fill the role as OAL Director. With a modest start-up investment, Dr. Zielinska turned the OAL from its beginning into a world leader in identification of trace organic compounds in the atmosphere. As she put it, “When I was hired we didn’t even have a single beaker, just an empty space for the lab.”

Dr. Zielinska turned the OAL into one of the premier global laboratories for organic chemistry analyses and utilized this capability on topics ranging from groundbreaking tunnel studies of car emissions to biomass burning and the impacts of hydraulic fracturing. The capabilities of her laboratory combined with Dr. Zielinska’s scientific expertise also helped facilitate the research of a broad range of DRI scientists (e.g., Drs. Eric Fujita, Judy Chow, John Watson, Dick Egami, Alan Gertler) and others in NSHE and nationally (e.g., Drs. Pierre Musset-Jones, Jim Seiber, Glen Miller at UNR); U.S. investigators from the Southwest Research Institute, West Virginia University; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; University of California, Riverside Air Pollution Research Center (APRAC), and others; and internationally including EUPHORE in Valencia, Spain and the Mexican Petroleum Institute. OAL also provides analytical services to several state and local agencies (e.g., Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, California Air Resources Board, South Coast Air Quality Management District, Washoe County Health Department) as well as private companies. The combined capabilities of the OAL and EAF have positioned DRI as a world leader in air quality research, with no other research institution in the U.S. having organic and inorganic analytical capabilities at this level.

zielinska4Dr. Zielinska had a long-term record of productivity focused on scientific questions related to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), biomass burning emissions, vehicle emissions, and secondary aerosol formation. Much of her work related to human health impacts as well as climate change and visibility issues. Through her own direct investigations and other studies made possible by the analytical capabilities of her laboratory, Dr. Zielinska’s contributions have resulted in state, national, and international benefits and recognition – contributing substantially to DRI’s and NSHE’s reputations both in the scientific and lay communities.

For instance, Dr. Zielinska was co-author on a review paper in Environmental Science & Technology in 2014 on “Air Impacts of Increased Natural Gas Acquisition, Processing, and Use,” investigating the air quality impacts of hydraulic fracturing – a practice of concern throughout the U.S. and increasingly in Nevada.

For more than 30 years, Dr. Zielinska was a world expert in applying advanced organic chemistry knowledge to atmospheric air quality. More specifically, she focused much of her work on the impacts of trace amounts of organics in the atmosphere, including those with the most significant impacts on public health. For instance, she was part of early, groundbreaking DRI studies of automobile emissions in tunnels, work that led to the conclusion that on-road emissions were far more severe than laboratory studies indicated at the time. She collaborated with DRI colleagues in identifying and determining characteristics of the products of biomass burning. This work included identification of brown carbon in the atmosphere, which absorbs light at different wavelengths than black carbon and has a pronounced effect on climate change.

Dr. Zielinska’s attracted more than $17 million in research funding during her time at DRI. Nearly all of Dr. Zielinska’s funding was from competitive national programs including from such agencies as the National Science Foundation, the U.S. EPA, the Renewable Energy Institute, the Health Effects Institute, the California Air Resources Board, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Energy, and many other sponsors.

Career Highlights Highlights of Dr. Zielinska’s research career include the following:

  • Completed a M.Sc. in chemistry from the Technical University of Poland in 1969 and a Ph.D. in chemistry from the Polish Academy of Sciences in 1979.
  • Worked as an assistant research chemist at the University of California, Riverside for six years on the mechanism of formation of mutagenic derivatives of PAHs under the influence of gaseous atmospheric pollutants.
  • Dr. Zielinska was hired by DRI in 1989 as an Associate Research Professor and promoted to Professor in 1997. She also is a member of the graduate faculty in physics at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), the UNR Atmospheric Sciences Program, and the Graduate Program in Environmental Sciences as well as Environmental Science and Health at UNR.
  • Established, developed, and sustained DRI’s Organic Analytical Laboratory – helping position DRI as a national and world leader in air quality studies.
  • Published 125 peer-reviewed papers (almost 75% while at DRI), including 24 as first author. Dr. Zielinska also authored five book chapters (four as first author), 30 conference proceedings (~50% as first author). Further, she was invited to lead a total of 16 presentations of 146 total presentations throughout the U.S. and world. Dr. Zielinska’s total research funding since 1998 (records are not available prior to 1998) has been $17.6 million and includes support from the most competitive funding agencies in the U.S.
  • Dr. Zielinska has been a national leader in service to the scientific community – including a recent role on the National Research Council Committee on Risk Management and Governance Issues in Shale Gas Development; three consecutive terms on the U.S. EPA Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC); an active participant in scientific societies including the American Geophysical Union, the Air & Waste Management Association, and the American Association for Aerosol Research; and a reviewer for many scientific journals.
  • Dr. Zielinska has shared her expertise internationally including presentations throughout the world in Chile, India, Spain, Brazil, Canada, Greece, South Africa, Mexico, and Germany.
  • Dr. Zielinska’s impact in Nevada has included fundamental air quality research at Lake Tahoe, Las Vegas, and Reno.
  • Dr. Zielinska was recognized with DRI’s Women of Achievement Award in 1999 and our highest recognition, the Dandini Medal of Science in 2002.
  • Dr. Zielinska’s principal areas of research include chemical characterization of gases and particles emitted from a variety of pollutant sources and present in the ambient air including products of photochemical transformations. These data are used in both receptor and source air quality models to establish relationships between emissions and concentrations of photochemical oxidant, fine particulate matter, and toxic air contaminants at downwind receptors. Results of these models are used to develop control strategies for attaining national and state air quality goals.