Lynn Russell, 30
One of the most important technological questions facing our species is: How much have we already affected the natural warming and cooling of the Earth? Many researchers argue that global temperature change is already well under way. A few others argue that too little is known to reach conclusions or make policy changes. Clearly, there is an urgent need for more and better data. In particular, we need to measure accurately the complex atmospheric systems that help set global temperatures.
One innovator in this area is Lynn Russell, whose research centers on how aerosols (vaporous suspensions of liquid or solid particles) from automobile emissions and other air pollution affect climate.
Russell is distinguished among her peers partly by her capacity for designing better systems of instrumentation. She has, for example, pioneered the use of automated instruments aboard remote-controlled airplanes to gather aerosol data. Her own measurements could lead to better understanding of how long aerosol particles survive in the atmosphere--a key to determining their impact on climate. Russell’s research will provide the data needed for all of us to make cooler and less politicized decisions about global warming.