Meet Adam Ahern

CIRES scientist Adam Ahern joined the Aerosol Properties & Processes research program in October 2018.

What do you do here at CSL?

I work in the Aerosol Properties and Processes group measuring both particle size distributions as well as ensemble aerosol optical properties. We just got funding from the NOAA Climate Program Office to combine these microphysical and optical measurements with particle composition measurements from AEROMMA. The ultimate goal is to have a comprehensive data product that can be leveraged by our colleagues using chemical transfer models and satellite remote sensing retrievals.

Where are you from/where did you grow up?

Dunstable, Massachusetts. To give a sense of how rural it was, we had more cows than people when I was growing up and the big elementary school field trip was to walk across the street to our combination library/town hall/police station.

What was your career path to get here?

When I was an undergraduate at Boston College I wanted to do environmental research and got a job in an aerosol lab. We hosted a black carbon instrument intercomparison study, and that's where I discovered a passion for instrumentation. It's also where I met Shuka and learned about NOAA; a place where you could work with world-class scientists in service to the public. With that goal in mind, I went to graduate school at Carnegie Mellon University, but got sidetracked when I fell in love with a local girl. After graduation, I took a job at an R&D facility for PPG so that we could stay in Pittsburgh, PA. I'm glad I gave industry a shot because you don't know until you try, but I didn't find it very fulfilling. So in 2018, we decided to follow the dream of ikigai (Google it!) and I took a job at NOAA.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I've always wanted to be a scientist. Increasingly I think that training your brain to ask "how" and "why" is a good way to see more beauty in the world.

What were you like in high school?


Name one thing about you that people wouldn't/don't expect.

I really like people, but I have strong introvert tendencies.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Distance running, being outdoors, and occasionally woodworking.

What energizes/motivates you at work?

As much as I love designing and building instruments, or sitting down with a fresh dataset and a big mug of coffee, I think I'm mostly motivated by the people I work with. I enjoy being a part of a team of enthusiastic, kind, and capable people. They make me more of the kind of person I want to be just by association.

What is the best piece of advice anyone has given you?

Memento mori.

Adam Ahern
Adam Ahern's professional web page at CSL.