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Dr. James F. Pankow
Dr. James F. Pankow

Professor of Chemistry and Civil & Environmental Engineering
Fellow of the Institute for Sustainable Solutions

Ph.D. | Caltech, 1979


Research Interests

Dr. Pankow's academic training combined basic chemistry (BA, SUNY, 1973) with engineering (Ph.D., Caltech, 1979). His research has involved the application of chemical principles to understanding how chemicals partition between important phases in the environment. He has been listed as a "highly cited researcher" ( since 2003. A primary focus of Dr. Pankow's work has involved the study of the "gas/particle (G/P) partitioning" process, i.e., how compounds distribute themselves between the gas phase and the associated particles of aerosol systems. This type of partitioning is of enormous fundamental importance in all contemporary model predictions of the amounts of polluting particulate matter (PM) that form in urban and regional air, and in the global atmosphere (12,700 Google hits for Pankow+particle). His groundbreaking work on this theory, which is used in climate change research, resulted in his receipt of the 1999 American Chemical Society Award for Creative Advances in Environmental Science & Technology, and of the 2005 Haagen-Smit Prize ( Gas/particle partitioning also affects the behavior and fate of individual toxic pollutants in the atmosphere, and theory developed by Pankow (1987) provides the foundation of the Junge-Pankow model (145,000 Google hits for "Junge Pankow") used to predict how toxic compounds such as PCBs, pesticides, and dioxins behave in contaminated air, including how such compounds are transported to sensitive remote polar ecosystems (e.g., In addition, gas/particle partitioning plays a fundamental role in controlling the delivery of the chemical doses of nicotine and carcinogens from cigarette smoke. Dr. Pankow recently served on a select advisory panel convened Nov. 29-30, 2007 by NIH on the topic of "Science and Future Directions for Nicotine Regulation". Note that the U.S. Congress may soon choose to finally grant FDA regulatory control over tobacco products. Dr. Pankow is very interested in the topic of cancer risk from exposure to tobacco smoke carcinogens. Findings in his 2007 scientific article on cancer from smoking have become a main focus of the high-stakes debate on how Congress should move forward with the proposed FDA legislation, and high profile scientific journal citations of that article are coming from, among others, Dr. Ellen Gritz at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Dr. Pankow is also very interested in contaminants in drinking water, and has recently secured a new five year project from the U.S.G.S on that topic.  Dr. Pankow was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 2009.

Representative Publications

Dr. Pankow is the author of more than 130 peer-reviewed publications, and four books. His book Aquatic Chemistry Concepts has served as the text in graduate and undergraduate courses in water geochemistry at numerous universities. Among many others, these include Stanford, UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke, Harvard, and University of Wisconsin. Dr. Pankow serves as a grant proposal reviewer for many agencies including NSF, NIH, EPA, among many others, and as a reviewer for many scientific journals.