Dr. M. Mazurek Pioneer in Studying Organic Particulates

Mazurek, Assistant Professor in Civil and Environmental engineering, gets recognition as a pioneer in studying organic particulates

“I guess I was inspired by smog”, says Monica Mazurek, Assistant Professor in Rutgers University’s Department of Civil and Environmental engineering, who has taken it upon herself to identify distinctive markers for sources of air pollution, turning a childhood irritant into the focus of her research study. After obtaining her B.S in Chemistry and Ph.D. in Geochemistry from the University of California at Los Angeles, Mazurek, intrigued by forensic chemistry, set off to work on a project with the aim of identifying molecular markers that scientists could use in order to locate oil reserves through studying sediment. Refocusing her attention on the atmosphere recently thereafter, Mazurek, before joining Rutgers University, worked as a Research Chemist in the Division of Environmental Chemistry in the Brookhaven National Laboratory. Additionally, she served as an Associate Program Director for the Atmospheric Chemistry Program at the National Science Foundation. Over the past decade, Mazurek’s work has yielded information about certain compounds being distinctive markers for sources of pollution. Levoglucosan is generated from the combustion of cellulose such as newspapers and hardwood, and compounds such as dehydroabicitic acid and retene are byproducts of burning softwood, such as pine. Additionally, by identifying markers distinctive to fast-food chains, scientists can determine where the particulates are coming from. Funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the National Science Foundation, Mazurek’s research has identified restaurants and burning wood as a major source of particulates in the air over North Jersey and New York City. A former colleague at Caltech, Richard Flagan states “Monica was part of the team that opened up the field of analyzing the chemistry to unravel the sources of organic particulates. She was one of the pioneers of this.” For More Information