Rajan Chakrabarty, the Harold D. Jolley Career Development Associate Professor in the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis, and three of his former students received NASA's Group Achievement Award for their accomplishments on the Fire Influence on Regional to Global Environments Experiment – Air Quality (FIREX-AQ) mission. Chakrabarty and Esther Koh, Nishit Shetty, and Benjamin Sumlin, who participated in FIREX-AQ as graduate students in Chakrabarty’s lab, distinguished themselves by making outstanding contributions to NASA’s mission and science.
The FIREX-AQ mission aimed to provide detailed measurements of trace gas and aerosol emissions for wildfires and prescribed fires, understand conditions at the point of emission and downwind to capture chemical transformation and air quality impacts, and assess the efficacy of satellite detections for estimating the emissions from sampled fires. Chakrabarty and his group’s work on the project aligned with their broad research goal of addressing grand challenges in the aerosol-climate-health nexus using interdisciplinary science. Most recently, Chakrabarty’s work in this area has focused on climate-warming organic particles emitted by wildfires.
NASA’s Group Achievement Award is one of the most prestigious awards a group can receive. The award recognizes group accomplishments contributing to NASA’s mission and includes certificates for all team members. Chakrabarty’s group was selected for the honor in 2020, following the FIREX-AQ mission’s success in 2019; however, the certificates were delayed due to the COVID pandemic.