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Robert L. McGraw

Senior Scientist

McGraw has a long-standing interest in the homogeneous and heterogeneous nucleation of supercooled vapors, as mechanisms for gas-to-particle conversion. This interest began during his postdoctoral collaboration with Prof. Howard Reiss at UCLA, and continued at Brookhaven both during the early eighties and since returning to BNL in 1993. Since returning, he has been Principal Investigator for NASA programs investigating nucleation and growth processes of atmospheric aerosols and clouds and for development of MATRIX, an aerosol module currently being used in the NASA/GISS climate model.  Major achievements under these programs included development of the quadrature method of moments for simulation of atmospheric aerosol processes; completion of the first rigorous kinetics study of binary nucleation in sulfuric acid-water mixtures; and an investigation into the role of fluctuations, temperature, and detailed balance in nucleation theory.  In addition to NASA, he has served as Principal Investigator on a DOE/EERE program, Diesel Engine Emissions Reduction (DEER), along with programs from the NNSA and DOE/SciDAC. His current research focus is on the DOE ARM and ASR climate science programs.

At the Rockwell Science Center in Thousand Oaks, CA (1984-1993), much of his research centered on the statistical physics and computational modeling of light propagation and scattering in materials for nonlinear optics applications. These materials included liquid-phase suspensions of microparticles (artificial Kerr media), critical point fluids, and photorefractive glasses. Over twenty-five publications and several invited presentations resulted this work in areas related to beam combination, information storage, light-scattering, and thermal and quantum noise. Major collaborative efforts include the prediction and first observation of phase conjugation at millimeter wavelengths (with Prof. Harold Fetterman of the Electrical Engineering Department at UCLA), and noise measurements in two-wave mixing (with Prof. Roberto Pizzoferrato of the University of Rome). While at Rockwell, he served as program manager and principal investigator on a contract let by the Air Force Phillips Laboratory to study noise in nonlinear optical processes. He also served as Science Center program manager and principal investigator for several North American Aviation Division (NAAD) classified research programs at the DOD Secret and Top-Secret classification levels. He was a member of the scientific advisory board of NAAD until leaving Rockwell in 1993.


  • University of Chicago, Ph. D. Physical Chemistry
  • University of Chicago, M. S. Chemistry
  • Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA., B.S. Chemistry

Current Appointments

  • Division Head, Atmospheric Sciences Division
  • Principal Investigator for the Department’s DOE project: Influence of Aerosols and Clouds on Climate and Climate Forcing
  • Professor (Adjunct), Department of Chemical Engineering, Yale University

Research Interests

  • Nucleation theory/Atmospheric particle formation
  • Aerosol dynamics/Quadrature Method of Moments
  • Clouds and precipitation/Microphysics of drizzle formation
  • Thermodynamics/Phase Transformation/Deliquescence/Efflorescence
  • Statistical physics

Selected Publications

Wood, R., Jensen, M. P., Wang, J., Bretherton, C. S., Burrows, S. M., Genio, A. D. D., Fridlind, A. M., Ghan, S. J., Ghate, V. P., Kollias, P., Krueger, S. K., McGraw, R. L., Miller, M. A., Painemal, D., Russell, L. M., Yuter, S. E., and Zuidema, P. Planning the next decade of coordinated research to better understand and simulate marine low clouds. Bull. Amer. Meteorol. Soc., accepted, doi:10.1175/BAMS-D-16-0160.1 (2016).

Winkler, P. M., McGraw, R. L., Bauer, P. S., Rentenberger, C., and Wagner, P. E. Direct determination of three-phase contact line properties on nearly molecular scale. Nature 6, 26111, doi:10.1038/srep26111 (2016).

Malila, J., McGraw, R., Laaksonen, A., and Lehtinen, K. E. J. Communication: Kinetics of scavenging of small, nucleating clusters: First nucleation theorem and sum rules. J. Chem. Phys. 142, 011102, doi:10.1063/1.4905213 (2015).

Yum, S. S., Wang, J., Liu, Y., Senum, G., Springston, S., McGraw, R., and Yeom, J. M. Cloud microphysical relationships and their implication on entrainment and mixing mechanism for the stratocumulus clouds measured during the VOCALS project. J. Geophys. Res. Atmos. 120, 5047-5069, doi:10.1002/2014JD022802 (2015).

Yu, H., Hallar, A. G., You, Y., Sedlacek, A., Springston, S., Kanawade, V. P., Lee, Y.-N., Wang, J., Kuang, C., McGraw, R. L., McCubbin, I., Mikkila, J., and Lee, S.-H. Sub-3 nm particles observed at the coastal and continental sites in the United States. J. Geophys. Res. Atmos. 119, 860-879, doi:10.1002/ 2013JD020841 (2014).

Wang, J., McGraw, R. L., and Kuang, C. Growth of atmospheric nano-particles by heterogeneous nucleation of organic vapor. Atmos. Chem. Phys. 13, 6523-6531, doi:10.5194/acp-13-6523-2013 (2013).

Giangrande, S. E., McGraw, R., and Lei, L. An Application of Linear Programming to Polarimetric Radar Differential Phase Processing. J. Atmos. Oceanic Technol. 30, 1716-1729, doi:10.1175/JTECH-D-12-00147.1 (2013).

Wang, J., McGraw, R. L., and Kuang, C.  Flux induced growth of atmospheric nano-particles by organic vapors. Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss. 12, 22813-22833, doi:10.5194/acpd-12-22813-2012 (2012).

McGraw, R., Wang, J., and Kuang, C. Kinetics of heterogeneous nucleation in supersaturated vapor: Fundamental limits to neutral particle detection revisited. Aerosol Sci. Technol. 46, 1053-1064, doi:10.1080/02786826.2012.687844 (2012).

Yu, H., McGraw, R., and Lee, S.-H. Effects of amines on formation of sub-3 nm particles and their subsequent growth. Geophys. Res. Lttrs 39, L02807, doi:10.1029/2011GL050099 (2012).

Bruzewicz, D. A., Checco, A., Ocko, B. M., Lewis, E. R., McGraw, R. L., and Schwartz, S. E. Reversible uptake of water on NaCl nanoparticles at relative humidity below deliquescence point observed by noncontact environmental atomic force microscopy. J. Chem. Phys. 134, 044702, doi:10.1063/1.3524195 (2011).

Chang, L.-S., Schwartz, S. E., McGraw, R., and Lewis, E. R. Sensitivity of aerosol properties to new particle formation mechanism and to primary emissions in a continental scale chemical transport model. J. Geophys. Res. 114, D07203, doi:10.1029/2008JD011019 (2009).

McGraw, R. and Lewis, E. R. Deliquescence and efflorescence of small particles. J. Chem. Phys. 131, 194705, doi:10.1063/1.3251056 (2009).

Zhang, R., Wang, L., Khalizov, A. F., Zhao, J., Zheng, J., McGraw, R. L., and Molina, L. T. Formation of nanoparticles of blue haze enhanced by anthropogenic pollution. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 106, 17650-17654 (2009).

Zhao, J., Khalizov, A., Zhang, R., and McGraw, R. Hydrogen-bonding interaction of molecular complexes and clusters of aerosol nucleation precursors. J. Phys. Chem. A 113, 680-689 (2009).