Martin named Raymond R. Tucker Distinguished Professor

Professorship honors the late St. Louis environmentalist, mayor

Beth Miller 
Randall Martin

Randall V. Martin, a world-renowned expert in atmospheric composition, has been named the Raymond R. Tucker Distinguished Professor at Washington University in St. Louis. He will be installed March 30, 2023, at a ceremony in Stephen F. and Camilla T. Brauer Hall.

Martin uses satellite observations, global models and in situ measurements to improve understanding about the processes controlling air quality, climate and biogeochemical cycling. In particular, he and his team analyze emissions and other processes affecting atmospheric composition including aerosols. They use satellite remote sensing to provide insight into global atmospheric composition by observing regions and phenomena that are otherwise difficult to observe, as well as global chemical transport models and ground- and aircraft-based observations. 

The professorship honors Tucker, a Washington University alumnus and professor who worked to reduce harmful air quality in the City of St. Louis in the first half of the 20th century through various elected and appointed roles.

“Randall Martin’s research is critical to our understanding of what is in the air we breathe every day and how that relates to disease and mortality across the globe,” said Aaron Bobick, dean and the James M. McKelvey Professor. “Though technology has changed from when Raymond Tucker was conducting research, the work of both of these researchers has contributed to new methods to improve air quality, and thus the health and climate, both in St. Louis and around the world.”

Martin leads an open-source global community model of atmospheric composition (GEOS-Chem), leads a global fine particulate matter network (SPARTAN) to evaluate and enhance satellite-based estimates of fine particulate matter, and serves on multiple science teams for satellite instruments including MAIA, TEMPO and GEMS. Data from his group are relied upon for a large number of assessments, including for the OECD Regional Well-Being Index, for World Health Organization estimates of global mortality due to fine particulate matter and for the Global Burden of Disease Project to examine the risk factors affecting global public health and for a wide range of health studies.

Martin has been internationally recognized for his research, ranking No. 12 in the United States and No. 23 worldwide among the top 1,000 environmental scientists by and annually ranks among the world’s most highly cited researchers by the Institute for Scientific Information. He is a member of the school’s Center for Aerosol Science and Engineering (CASE), a premier center worldwide for aerosol research.

Martin joined Washington University in 2019 from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, where he had been on the faculty since 2003. He was named professor in 2011 and Arthur B. McDonald Chair of Research Excellence in 2016. From 2003-2019, he was a research associate at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. He serves on a variety of task forces, advisory boards and working groups as an expert on air quality. His professional honors include an Atmospheric Sciences Ascent Award by the American Geophysical Union, an E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship and selection to the Royal Society of Canada. 

Martin earned doctoral and master’s degrees in engineering sciences from Harvard University; a master of science in environmental change and management from Oxford University; and a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Cornell University.

A scholar and a public servant, Tucker earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Washington University in 1920. He was an associate professor of mechanical engineering from 1927-1934 and head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering from 1942-1951. While a professor in the 1930s, he actively advocated for an anti-smoke ordinance for the City of St. Louis. After it passed in 1937, he became the city’s first smoke commissioner, establishing a national reputation in the anti-pollution field and in the design of power plants.

Tucker had numerous civic responsibilities that shaped St. Louis, including three terms as mayor, beginning in 1953. As mayor, he oversaw urban redevelopment projects in floodwall protection, highways, new street lighting, and clearing Mill Creek Valley, as well as what is now the Gateway Arch and the Busch Stadium II development. He also won passage of a city fair employment practices act, a public accommodations ordinance and a fair housing ordinance. He also began the St. Louis Human Development Corp. to help alleviate poverty.

He was a member of the committee appointed to write the city’s first Civil Service Ordinance in 1940 and was responsible for the St. Louis Civil Defense 1951-1953. He headed the 1949 Charter Board of Freeholders whose plan was defeated at the polls in August 1950. In addition, he was the director of public safety of St. Louis and a member of the Board of Public Service.

The St. Louis Newspaper Guild gave him the Page One Award for civic achievement in 1952, and in 1956 he received the St. Louis Award for rallying citizens to work for civic improvement. After he was defeated for a fourth term as mayor, Tucker returned to Washington University as a professor of urban affairs. He died in St. Louis in 1970.

The McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis promotes independent inquiry and education with an emphasis on scientific excellence, innovation and collaboration without boundaries. McKelvey Engineering has top-ranked research and graduate programs across departments, particularly in biomedical engineering, environmental engineering and computing, and has one of the most selective undergraduate programs in the country. With 165 full-time faculty, 1,420 undergraduate students, 1,616 graduate students and 21,000 living alumni, we are working to solve some of society’s greatest challenges; to prepare students to become leaders and innovate throughout their careers; and to be a catalyst of economic development for the St. Louis region and beyond.

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