Sep 29 2004 Posted: 00:00 IST

Dr Colin O'Dowd, NUI Galway, was the 2004 recipient of the Smoluchowski Award in Aerosol Science, awarded at the European Aerosol Conference, held at the Hungarian Academy of Science in Budapest this month. He is the first Irish recipient of this prestigious award. Aerosol Science is the study of airborne particles which range in size from nanometres (one thousand millionth of a meter) to millimetres and influences all aspects of our life from medical, industrial and environmental disciplines.

This honour is awarded annually to a distinguished young scientist (under the age of 40) who has contributed outstanding research works to the field of Aerosol Science over the last 2-3 years. The award is in honour of the Polish physicists, Marian Smoluchowski (1872-1917), for pioneering works in aerosol physics.

Dr O'Dowd's research focuses on the impact of atmospheric aerosols on climate change and air quality. Atmospheric aerosols are required to form clouds and consequently have an important impact on the global hydrological cycle. Also, both cloud and aerosol haze layers block the sun's heat and are predicted to partially reduce global warming from greenhouse gas emissions. O'Dowd has had 3 of his articles published in Nature – the world's premier scientific journal – over the last 2 years and has published more than 150 scientific articles over the last 14 years.

The aerosol science award is open to competition from the fields of Fundamental Aerosol Physics, Medical Aerosols, Industrial Aerosols, Process Engineering, Combustion Aerosols, and Atmospheric Aerosol Science. Since its inception in 1986, there have been three awards in the field of Atmospheric Aerosols (one each for Finland, the UK and the US) and now Dr O'Dowd of Ireland.