Taking a 360° Look at Soot and Smoke

Hertz Fellow Tami Bond Spotlight
posted: 5/9/2019
Hertz Staff
listed in Spotlight

Spotlight on Tami Bond

From chemistry to human behavior, Bond is weaving together the causes and effects of airborne dark carbon. The result: U.S. policymakers may have their best guidance yet for combating this deadly pollution.


The soot that belches from trucks carrying freight is more than a highway eyesore; the black carbon particles in these clouds pollute our atmosphere, contributing to climate change by trapping heat in our atmosphere, and endangering lives when it enters our lungs.

Tami Bond is at the forefront of the effort to understand how soot and other combustion products affect our health and climate. By tracking these emissions around the world and creating models of their interaction with climate and the economy, Bond renders our atmosphere’s complex chemistry legible to innovators – from policymakers to engineers – working to keep it healthy and sustainable. Her research is so critical, in 2014 the MacArthur Foundation awarded her one of its renowned “genius” grants by noting: "With implications ranging from local action to international policy assessments of climate impact, Bond’s work has the potential to unlock the role of energy in our climate system and to help millions breathe cleaner air."

In the 1990s as a Hertz Fellow at the University of Washington, Bond turned her long-running interest in what different fuels emit when they burn into a lifelong passion for understanding where this smoke goes and how it affects our environment.  
She first set out to understand the role of soot exhaust by inventorying the global sources of these gasses, from kerosene stoves in the Himalayas to diesel-fueled trucking in the United States.

Today a Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, her studies have made her one of the world’s leading authorities on these sources of so-called “black carbon” emissions. Along with testifying before Congress on the effects of black carbon, she’s produced computational models that tie together our new understanding of soot’s role with other climate and economic forces to make more informed policy.

“It’s just one way of making sure that we’re as informed as possible about our changing climate, and about what we can do to control it. To me,” Bond says, “black carbon is part of a story that says consider everything.”