Timothy Sipkens – Killam Postdoctoral Fellowship

Using statistical background to improve on various approaches to aerosol characterization.

University of British Columbia

Because aerosols contribute significantly to the anthropogenic radiative forcing responsible for climate change and to decays in air quality that adversely influence human health, it is critical that tools be developed to robustly characterize aerosols, practically regulate their emission, and limit their impact. Tim will use his statistical background to improve on various approaches to aerosol characterization. This will include working with unmanned aerial vehicles to probe large-scale industrial processes, such as flares and ferry exhaust, providing information previously inaccessible to researchers and regulators; tomographic reconstruction of the three-dimensional structure of aggregates using multi-angles transmission electron microscopy; and novel approaches of estimating the effective density of aggregate structures using mass and mobility analyzers.

I have had the opportunity to work with leading researchers in the fields or inverse problems and optical characterization of reacting flows. While I cannot attribute my inspiration to any one person, I owe much to many individuals currently working to advance my field. 

Tim’s immediate supervisor is also a member of the NSERC FlareNet research network, giving him access to the expertise of several prominent combustion researchers and the results of research of national importance. Furthermore, UBC, as an institution, has taken up sustainability as core to its mission, which is fundamental to his research.

Tim was awarded the Governor General’s Gold Medal for highest ranking in a graduate program.

I hope my research will lead to a better understanding of aerosol formation and to improved characterization techniques that will directly improve regulation and facilitate enforcement. This should make significant strides towards reducing the impact of aerosols on climate change and human well-being, particularly in urban and industrial areas.

On receiving a Killam award: I am thrilled! It is hard to express how truly thankful I am for this opportunity. Beyond the peace-of-mind provided by this fellowship, the allowance for travel will help me spread Canadian research to a broader, more global audience. It will also facilitate collaboration with a wider array of researchers, a fact that is incredibly valuable in an era of where scholars from disparate fields must cooperate to solve society’s largest problems.


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