Tran Nguyen

Tran Nguyen

Position Title
Assistant Professor

Environmental Toxicology


Nguyen is an assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Toxicology. She received her Ph.D. in chemistry from UC Irvine. Nguyen was a Stanback Postdoctoral Fellow and an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at the California Institute of Technology in the Department of Environmental Science and Engineering before joining the UC Davis faculty in 2016.

Research interests:

Atmospheric chemistry and instrumentation relevant to air pollution, climate change, and environmental health

Brief overview:

The atmosphere is a large, oxidizing, reaction vessel where different phases of matter continuously interact and dynamically evolve. Most of the hydrocarbons emitted to the atmosphere from biogenic and human activity last about an hour before they are transformed into oxidized volatile compounds or aerosol particles. Aerosols, in turn, continue to “age” from interaction with solar radiation and cloud or fog droplets during their long lifetime in the air.

Our group aims to understand the mechanisms and rates of these atmospheric transformations. In particular, we are interested in how chemistry controls the composition, yields, and properties of aerosols, such as their ability to absorb sunlight or their toxicity to humans.  The mechanistic and kinetic data generated from our group helps policy makers make informed decisions regarding air pollution mitigation, climate change, and environmental health.

To isolate the chemistry in such a complex and interconnected system, our group performs targeted research in large Teflon reaction chambers that simulate the sunlit outdoor environment.  We use sensitive mass spectrometry and absorption spectroscopy techniques to measure trace chemicals in the gas phase, in the condensed phase (as it relates to aerosols, fogs, or clouds), or at the interface between these phases.

Results from the lab are compared to data obtained at field research sites and eventually integrated into computational models used to simulate the atmosphere.

Current projects:

  • Chemical and physical aging fates of semivolatile gases and secondary organic aerosols
  • Toxicity of organic compounds in environmental complex mixtures
  • Impact of urban pollution on atmospheric composition