Department of Chemistry

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Paul B. Shepson

Professor Paul B. ShepsonJonathan Amy Distinguished Professor—Analytical and Atmospheric Chemistry
Phone: 765-494-7441
Office: BRWN 5171C

For Professor Shepson's individual Home Page click here.

The Shepson group is involved in fundamental studies of the chemistry of the Earth’s atmosphere, and specifically, photochemistry that occurs in the lowest 10-15 km, i.e. the troposphere. Most of our research questions ultimately relate to understanding factors that influence tropospheric ozone, a toxic but also essential component of the lower atmosphere. Research activities involve a wide and interconnected array of laboratory experiments, analytical methods development, field measurement campaigns, and supporting computer modeling activities. We currently are pursuing problems in three broad areas:

Studies of the impact of forest-derived natural hydrocarbons

This work focuses improving our understanding of the role of natural hydrocarbons, such as isoprene, in controlling the production of O3, and the removal of NOx (as shown in the Figure 1), and how atmospheric compositional change can influence forest biochemistry. (see Starn et al., 1998).

Studies of the role of snow phase photochemistry in the Arctic

For the past decade, we have been studying a remarkable phenomenon characterized by complete destruction of all the O3 in the lower atmosphere just above the ocean surface at sunrise (March/April) in the Arctic. Much of our work has been conducted at or near a laboratory at the Canadian Forces Station at Alert, N.W.T. (82.5oN; see photo of lab in Figure 2), where we recently discovered that this process is initiated by photochemistry that occurs in the snowpack. (see Sumner and Shepson, 1999).

Analytical methods development for rapid and trace level atmospheric measurements

We are actively pursuing development of new analytical methods, e.g. involving use of ion trap mass spectrometry, that enable quantitative atmospheric measurements at trace levels. (see Colorado et al., 1998).


B.S., 1978, SUNY College at Cortland; Ph.D., 1982, Pennsylvania State University.


  • American Chemical Society Award for Creative Advances in Environmental Science & Technology , 2015
  • Assistant and Associate Professor, York University, 1987-1994
  • Research Chemist, U.S. EPA, 1983-1987

Selected Publications

  • Cavender A. E.;Biesenthal, T. A.;Bottenheim, J. W.;Shepson, P. B., Volatile organic compound ratios as probes of halogen atom chemistry in the Arctic . Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 2008 , 8 , 1737-1750.
  • Garman K. E.;Wyss, P.;Carlsen, M.;Zimmerman, J. R.;Stirm, B. H.;Carney, T. Q.;Santini, R.;Shepson, P. B., The contribution of variability of lift-induced upwash to the uncertainty in vertical winds determined from an aircraft platform . Boundary-Layer Meteorology 2008 , 126 , 461-476.
  • Lockwood A. L.;Filley, T. R.;Rhodes, D.;Shepson, P. B., Foliar uptake of atmospheric organic nitrates . Geophysical Research Letters 2008 , 35 , -.
More Publications

Paul Shepson, Head
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