CGCS Directory

Prof. Colette L. Heald

Mitsui Associate Professor
Associate Department Head



Research Interests:
Professor Heald's group investigates the atmospheric composition and chemistry of the global atmosphere and how this impacts air quality, climate, and environmental health. Their research focues on biosphere-atmosphere interactions, aerosol sources and transformation, and the connections between atmospheric chemistry and climate. They use observations of the atmosphere from all scales (in situ to satellite) with global models of chemistry and climate to study these questions.

Biographical Statement:
Professor Heald received her BS in Engineering Physics from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario (she is originally Canadian), in 2000, and a PhD (2005) in Earth and Planetary Science from Harvard where she worked with Professor Daniel J. Jacob on the use of satellite observations of atmospheric composition to quantify the sources and intercontinental export of pollutants. After spending two years at the University California Berkeley as a NOAA Climate and Global Change Postdoctoral Fellow where she focused on the sources and climate sensitivity of organic aerosols, Heald was an assistant professor in the Atmospheric Science Department at Colorado State. She joined the MIT faculty in spring 2012, gained tenure in 2015, and has served as Associate Department Head of Civil and Environmental Engineering since July 2015.

Selected Publications (bold indicates members of Heald's research group):

  • Silva, S.J., C.L. Heald, J.A. Geddes, K.G. Austin, P.S. Kasibhatla, M.E. Marlier (2016), Impacts of Current and Projected Oil Palm Plantation on Air Quality Over Southeast Asia, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 10621-10635, doi:10.5194/acp-16-10621-2016. [ACP]


  • Geddes, J.A., C.L. Heald, S.J. Silva, R.V. Martin (2016), Land cover change impacts on atmospheric chemistry: simulating projected large-scale tree mortality in the United States, Atmos. Chem. Phys.,  16, 2323-2340, doi:10.5194/acp-16-2323-2016. [ACP]


  • Ford, B., C.L. Heald (2016), Exploring the Uncertainty Associated with Satellite-Based Estimates of Premature Mortality due to Exposure to Fine Particulate Matter, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 3499-3523, doi:10.5194/acp-16-3499-2016. [ACP]


  • Porter, W.C., C.L. Heald, D. Cooley, B. Russell (2015), Investigating the observed sensitivities of air-quality extremes to meteorological drivers via quantile regression, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 10349-10366, doi:10.5194/acp-15-10349-2015 [ACP].


  • Chen, Q., C. L. Heald, J. L. Jimenez, M. R. Canagaratna, Q. Zhang, L. Y. He, X. F. Huang, P. Campuzano-Jost, B. B. Palm, L. Poulain, M. Kuwata, S. T. Martin, J. P. D. Abbatt, A. K.Y. Lee, and J. Liggio (2015), Elemental composition of organic aerosol: The gap between ambient and laboratory measurements, GRL, 42, doi:10.1002/2015GL063693. [PDF]


  • Val Martin, M., C.L. Heald, J.-F. Lamarque, S. Tilmes, L.K. Emmons, and B.A. Schichtel (2015), How emissions, climate, and land use change will impact mid-century air quality over the United States: A focus on effects at National Parks, Atmos. Chem. and Phys., 15, 2805-2823, doi:10.5194/acp-15-2805-2015.[ACP]


  • Heald, C.L. and D.V. Spracklen (2015), Land Use Change Impacts on Air Quality and Climate, Chemical Reviews, doi:10.1021/cr500446g. [PDF]


  • Wang, X., C.L. Heald, D.A. Ridley, J.P. Schwarz, J.R. Spackman, A.E. Perring, H. Coe, D. Liu, A.D. Clarke (2014), Exploiting Simultaneous Observational Constraints on Mass and Absorption to Estimate the Global Direct Radiative Forcing of Black Carbon and Brown Carbon, Atmos. Chem. Phys. 14, 10989-111010, doi:10.5194/acp-14-10989-2014. [ACP]


  • Tai, A.P.K., M. val Martin, C.L. Heald (2014), Threat to future global food security from climate change and ozone air pollution, Nature Climate Change, doi:10.1038/nclimate2317. [PDF]


  • Ridley, D.A., C.L. Heald and J.M. Prospero (2014), What controls the recent changes in African mineral dust aerosol across the Atlantic?, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 14, 5735-5747, doi:10.5194/acp-14-5735-2014. [ACP]


  • Heald, C.L., D.A. Ridley, J.H. Kroll, S.R.H. Barrett, K.E. Cady-Pereira, M.J. Alvarado, C.D. Holmes (2014), Beyond Direct Radiative Forcing: The Case for Characterizing the Direct Radiative Effect of Aerosols, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 14, 5513-5527, doi:10.5194/acp-14-5513-2014. [ACP]


  • Ridley, D.A., C.L. Heald, J.R. Pierce, M.J. Evans (2013), Towards resolution-independent dust emissions in global models, Geophys. Res. Lett., 40, 2873-2877, doi:10.1002/grl.50409. [PDF]


  • Ford, B. and C.L. Heald (2013), Aerosol loading in the Southeastern United States: reconciling surface and satellite observations, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 13, 9269-9283, doi:10.5194/acp-13-9269-2013 . [ACP]

Contact Information

t: 616-324-5666


B.Sc. 2000, Engineering Physics, Queen's University
Ph.D 2005, Earth and Planetary Science, Harvard University