Song Gao
Professor of Environmental Science at Duke Kunshan University

Song Gao
Professor of Environmental Science/Chemistry, DKU
Postdoctoral Scholar, California Institute of Technology (Atmospheric Chemistry / Environmental Engineering)
Ph.D., University of Washington (Analytical/Environmental Chemistry)
B.S., University of Science and Technology of China (Materials Science /Chemistry Track, with Honors)

Welcome to my Duke Scholar page. Prior to joining DKU, I served on the chemistry faculty in both liberal arts and research universities, including Stetson University (#4 in Best Regional Universities South) in the US, as well as Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (a world-class research university).
My group's research takes an interdisciplinary approach, combining field, laboratory and modeling studies, to understanding the scientific mechanisms behind environmental pollution and finding remediation solutions. My peer-reviewed publications focus on the physicochemical mechanisms of smog pollution, molecular nature and chemical transformation of secondary aerosols, remediation technologies in removing halogenated compounds in groundwater.  Among these publications, one of them has over 500 citations, and another four with over 300 citations each.

I have also taken on a keen interest to formulate science-based environmental policies. My latest research involves developing a novel scientific/policy framework to reduce plastics pollution at the upstream, uncovering previously missing links between synthetic chemistry and atmospheric chemistry, ultimately coordinating global agreements on ozone protection, climate mitigation and plastics reduction. This research has culminated in a paper being published at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States (PNAS) in 2021, with a DKU undergraduate as a co-author. In addition, a new book that I co-authored, "SOLVE: Environmental Science Problems", is under print by the University Science Books in the US.

I have received research funding from the United States National Science Foundation (US NSF) and Hong Kong Research Grants Council, and have served as a reviewer for US NSF grants and various international journals, a Section Editor for Case Studies in the Environment (University of California Press), and an Associate Editor for Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences (Springer).   

I am also passionate about teaching, having taught both undergraduate and graduate courses in chemistry, environmental science and energy, and supervised student research at both graduate and undergraduate levels. Two former students received Green Chemistry Scholarships awarded by US National Science Foundation /American Chemical Society.  Disseminating knowledge on chemical and earth sciences, in an intriguing and articulate manner whilst ensuring the rigor of learning, has never ceased to gratify me, and I intend to continue this exploratory journey with my students.   

In spare time, I enjoy attending concerts.  Without elaborating, may I simply say that Bach, Mendelssohn, and Brahms (among all other great composers), with their music so profoundly enriching and enjoyable whilst deeply resonating with laws and patterns in the sciences, are perfect reminders of how many fields and domains are fundamentally connected; yet it is a lifelong journey to decipher the embedded interconnections, complexities and implications.

Current Research Interests

Atmospheric Chemistry (secondary aerosol formation, gas-phase chemistry);
Particle Nucleation involving Organics, using chamber studies and computational methods such as DFT;
Air Pollution Mechanisms (tropospheric composition change and mixing state evolution);
Air Pollution Trends, using ground measurements, remote sensing analyses, machine learning techniques;
Science-Based Policy Making, focusing on devising co-benefits approaches mitigating stratospheric ozone loss, climate change and plastics pollution utilizing Montreal Protocol; 
Water Pollution and Remediation Technologies

Office Hours

To be announced

Current Appointments & Affiliations

Contact Information

Some information on this profile has been compiled automatically from Duke databases and external sources. (Our About page explains how this works.) If you see a problem with the information, please write to Scholars@Duke and let us know. We will reply promptly.