Jeffrey Pierce, assistant professor

A day in the life

Jeffrey Pierce, assistant professor

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It’s great to be working with students, and watching as their understanding of physics and atmospheric sciences evolves.

A particular interest in particles

Airborne particles are one of the biggest gaps in understanding climate change, according to Jeffrey Pierce. But he hopes to narrow the gap and get the word out, through his research and teaching in Dal’s Department of Physics and Atmospheric Sciences.

“One of the things I like about my job is that I’m helping to understand the world, by looking at how the atmosphere is changing—and along with it, how health standards are changing. I’m hoping our research helps address the issue of human impact on the atmosphere,” Dr. Pierce explains. “Understanding particles helps us understand what we have done and may do with climate change.”

His Introduction to Atmospheric Science course gives students “an overview of the atmosphere. It’s a more general course that almost anyone can take—certainly anyone majoring in science. Next fall, I’ll be teaching Atmospheric Physics. It’s more quantitative,” he explains. “More equations and a lot more ‘hard science’ will be involved.”

Dr. Pierce also teaches a Computations course: “We create code for different problems. Some students are intimidated by coding if they haven’t done it before. But it’s not inherently hard,” he says, “It’s just a matter of having someone show you how and then doing it yourself.”

“I’m really thrilled to be at Dalhousie—and I love Halifax!” says Dr. Pierce, who grew up in Massachusetts and did his PhD in Chemical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

“And the Department of Physics and Atmospheric Sciences is wonderful—it’s the reason I came here. Everyone just seems happy,” he says. “Here, people can be successful in both research and teaching, without the stress!”

Dr. Pierce’s current research is an extension of his post-doctoral work at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre. “We’re modelling the atmosphere and looking at air pollution particles, such as those emitted by trucks and power plants, as well as dust particles.”

“We’re using satellites to test those models, using data created by other researchers who actually collect the particles,” Dr. Pierce explains. “I love working on this with other researchers—I wouldn’t want to be going about it by myself.”