Dr. Robin Lewis Modini



Paul Scherrer Institut
Forschungsstrasse 111
5232 Villigen PSI

I am fascinated by all things related to atmospheric aerosols. My research adds to our knowledge of aerosol-related climate and weather impacts, and contributes to a better understanding of how aerosol pollution damages human health. One of my main areas of expertise is aerosol optics, including the measurement and modeling of absorbing aerosols such as black carbon in both laboratory and field settings. I have a keen interest in state-of-the-art data science and machine learning methods and how these can be applied to aerosol-related problems. In recent years I have worked extensively on aerosol health effects; in particular, the identification of toxic aerosol types through online measurements of aerosol oxidative potential.

  • Investigation of aerosol health effects through targeted studies of aerosol oxidative potential (SNSF project)
  • In situ measurement and modeling of aerosol optical properties, with a particular focus on absorbing aerosols (ACTRIS, EUROCHAMP).
  • Bridging the gap between in situ and remote sensing observations of atmospheric aerosols (BISAR project)
  • Characterization of black carbon particles with the Single Particle Soot Photometer (SP2)
  • Field measurements of aerosols and clouds (e.g. AC/BC project: black carbon measurements in the air and clouds at Zeppelin Observatory, Svalbard)
  • Measurement of aerosol-cloud interactions
  • Sea spray and other marine aerosols

Professional experience

- 2020 -- current: Tenured staff scientist in the Aerosol Physics Group, Laboratory of Atmospheric Chemistry, Paul Scherrer Institute, Switzerland

- 2016 -- 2020: Tenure-track scientist in the Aerosol Physics Group, Laboratory of Atmospheric Chemistry, Paul Scherrer Institute, Switzerland

- 2012 -- 2016: Postdoctoral research scientist in the Atmospheric Particle Research Laboratory (APRL) at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland (adviser: Prof. Satoshi Takahama)

- 2010 -- 2012: Postdoctoral research scientist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, USA (adviser: Prof. Lynn Russell)


- 2007 -- 2010: PhD Physics at the Queensland University of Technology, Australia. Thesis title: Investigation of the effect of organics on the water uptake of marine aerosols (supervisor: Prof. Zoran Ristovski)

- 2002 -- 2005: B.App.Sci with Honours in Physics from Queensland University of Technology, Australia

  • Cheng Z, Qiu X, Li A, Chai Q, Shi X, Ge Y, et al.
    Heterogeneous reactions significantly contribute to the atmospheric formation of nitrated aromatic compounds during the haze episode in urban Beijing
    Science of the Total Environment. 2024; 917: 170612 (7 pp.). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2024.170612
  • Cheung RKY, Qi L, Manousakas MI, Puthussery JV, Zheng Y, Koenig TK, et al.
    Major source categories of PM2.5 oxidative potential in wintertime Beijing and surroundings based on online dithiothreitol-based field measurements
    Science of the Total Environment. 2024; 928: 172345 (14 pp.). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2024.172345
  • Alfarra R, Baltensperger U, Bell DM, Danelli SG, Di Biagio C, Doussin J-F, et al.
    Preparation of the experiment: addition of particles
    In: Doussin J-F, Fuchs H, Kiendler-Scharr A, Seakins P, Wenger J, eds. A practical guide to atmospheric simulation chambers. Cham: Springer; 2023:163-206. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-22277-1_5
  • Corbin JC, Modini RL, Gysel-Beer M
    Mechanisms of soot-aggregate restructuring and compaction
    Aerosol Science and Technology. 2023; 57(2): 89-111. https://doi.org/10.1080/02786826.2022.2137385
  • Holanda BA, Franco MA, Walter D, Artaxo P, Carbone S, Cheng Y, et al.
    African biomass burning affects aerosol cycling over the Amazon
    Communications Earth & Environment. 2023; 4(1): 154 (15 pp.). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43247-023-00795-5
  • Moallemi A, Modini RL, Brem BT, Bertozzi B, Giaccari P, Gysel-Beer M
    Concept, absolute calibration, and validation of a new benchtop laser imaging polar nephelometer
    Atmospheric Measurement Techniques. 2023; 16(15): 3653-3678. https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-16-3653-2023
  • Zieger P, Heslin-Rees D, Karlsson L, Koike M, Modini R, Krejci R
    Black carbon scavenging by low-level Arctic clouds
    Nature Communications. 2023; 14(1): 5488 (8 pp.). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-023-41221-w
  • Bianchi F, Sinclair VA, Aliaga D, Zha Q, Scholz W, Wu C, et al.
    The SALTENA experiment. Comprehensive observations of aerosol sources, formation, and processes in the South American Andes
    Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. 2022; 103(2): E212-E229. https://doi.org/10.1175/BAMS-D-20-0187.1
  • Boiger R, Modini RL, Moallemi A, Degen D, Adelmann A, Gysel-Beer M
    Retrieval of aerosol properties from in situ, multi-angle light scattering measurements using invertible neural networks
    Journal of Aerosol Science. 2022; 163: 105977 (20 pp.). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaerosci.2022.105977
  • Moallemi A, Modini RL, Lapyonok T, Lopatin A, Fuertes D, Dubovik O, et al.
    Information content and aerosol property retrieval potential for different types of in situ polar nephelometer data
    Atmospheric Measurement Techniques. 2022; 15(19): 5619-5642. https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-15-5619-2022
  • Pasquier JT, David RO, Freitas G, Gierens R, Gramlich Y, Haslett S, et al.
    The Ny-Ålesund aerosol cloud experiment (NASCENT): overview and first results
    Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. 2022; 103(11): E2533-E2558. https://doi.org/10.1175/BAMS-D-21-0034.1
  • Tatzelt C, Henning S, Welti A, Baccarini A, Hartmann M, Gysel-Beer M, et al.
    Circum-Antarctic abundance and properties of CCN and INPs
    Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. 2022; 22(14): 9721-9745. https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-22-9721-2022
  • Baccarini A, Dommen J, Lehtipalo K, Henning S, Modini RL, Gysel‐Beer M, et al.
    Low‐volatility vapors and new particle formation over the Southern Ocean during the Antarctic Circumnavigation Expedition
    Journal of Geophysical Research D: Atmospheres. 2021; 126(22): e2021JD035126 (25 pp.). https://doi.org/10.1029/2021JD035126
  • Ess MN, Bertò M, Irwin M, Modini RL, Gysel-Beer M, Vasilatou K
    Optical and morphological properties of soot particles generated by the miniCAST 5201 BC generator
    Aerosol Science and Technology. 2021; 55(7): 828-847. https://doi.org/10.1080/02786826.2021.1901847
  • Landwehr S, Volpi M, Haumann FA, Robinson CM, Thurnherr I, Ferracci V, et al.
    Exploring the coupled ocean and atmosphere system with a data science approach applied to observations from the Antarctic Circumnavigation Expedition
    Earth System Dynamics. 2021; 12(4): 1295-1369. https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-12-1295-2021
  • Moallemi A, Landwehr S, Robinson C, Simó R, Zamanillo M, Chen G, et al.
    Sources, occurrence and characteristics of fluorescent biological aerosol particles measured over the pristine Southern Ocean
    Journal of Geophysical Research D: Atmospheres. 2021; 126(11): e2021JD034811 (24 pp.). https://doi.org/10.1029/2021JD034811
  • Modini RL, Corbin JC, Brem BT, Irwin M, Bertò M, Pileci RE, et al.
    Detailed characterization of the CAPS single-scattering albedo monitor (CAPS PMssa) as a field-deployable instrument for measuring aerosol light absorption with the extinction-minus-scattering method
    Atmospheric Measurement Techniques. 2021; 14(2): 819-851. https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-14-819-2021
  • Moschos V, Gysel-Beer M, Modini RL, Corbin JC, Massabò D, Costa C, et al.
    Source-specific light absorption by carbonaceous components in the complex aerosol matrix from yearly filter-based measurements
    Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. 2021; 21(17): 12809-12833. https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-21-12809-2021
  • Pileci RE, Modini RL, Bertò M, Yuan J, Corbin JC, Marinoni A, et al.
    Comparison of co-located refractory black carbon (rBC) and elemental carbon (EC) mass concentration measurements during field campaigns at several European sites
    Atmospheric Measurement Techniques. 2021; 14(2): 1379-1403. https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-14-1379-2021
  • Wang H, He C, Modini RL, Wang W, Lu H, Morawska L
    Mixing state of printer generated ultrafine particles: implications for the complexity of indoor aerosols
    Atmospheric Environment. 2021; 259: 118550 (9 pp.). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.atmosenv.2021.118550
  • Yuan J, Modini RL, Zanatta M, Herber AB, Müller T, Wehner B, et al.
    Variability in the mass absorption cross section of black carbon (BC) aerosols is driven by BC internal mixing state at a central European background site (Melpitz, Germany) in winter
    Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. 2021; 21(2): 635-655. https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-21-635-2021
  • Cravigan LT, Mallet MD, Vaattovaara P, Harvey MJ, Law CS, Modini RL, et al.
    Sea spray aerosol organic enrichment, water uptake and surface tension effects
    Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. 2020; 20(13): 7955-7977. https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-20-7955-2020
  • Motos G, Corbin JC, Schmale J, Modini RL, Bertò M, Kupiszewski P, et al.
    Black carbon aerosols in the lower free troposphere are heavily coated in summer but largely uncoated in winter at Jungfraujoch in the Swiss Alps
    Geophysical Research Letters. 2020; 47(14): e2020GL088011 (10 pp.). https://doi.org/10.1029/2020GL088011
  • Osmont D, Brugger S, Gilgen A, Weber H, Sigl M, Modini RL, et al.
    Tracing devastating fires in Portugal to a snow archive in the Swiss Alps: a case study
    Cryosphere. 2020; 14(11): 3731-3745. https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-14-3731-2020
  • Motos G, Schmale J, Corbin JC, Modini RL, Karlen N, Bertò M, et al.
    Cloud droplet activation properties and scavenged fraction of black carbon in liquid-phase clouds at the high-alpine research station Jungfraujoch (3580 m a.s.l.)
    Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. 2019; 19(6): 3833-3855. https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-19-3833-2019
  • Schmale J, Baccarini A, Thurnherr I, Henning S, Efraim A, Regayre L, et al.
    Overview of the Antarctic Circumnavigation Expedition: study of preindustrial-like aerosols and their climate effects (ACE-SPACE)
    Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. 2019; 100: 2260-2283. https://doi.org/10.1175/BAMS-D-18-0187.1