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Ozone expert brings science down to Earth for students

Ping Jing, PhD

Assistant professor, environmental science and meteorology

Congratulations on earning the Excellence in Teaching Freshmen Award. How did it feel to be selected?

First, I was surprised, and then I was very honored because I know I was nominated by students. As a teacher, it feels great when your teaching gets recognized by your own students.

Talk a little bit about the classes you teach.

I teach environmental science courses that satisfy the science core requirement—which means my students have a wide range of backgrounds, including science majors and non-science majors. I teach a variety of environmental issues focusing on climate change, air pollution, ozone depletion, and energy. I cover other topics, but that’s my area of expertise.

What do you hope your students take away from your classes?

I want them to understand these environmental issues because it’s important for our future citizens to be aware of these problems. And secondly, I think students should gain skills and experience. So I give them hands-on activities and projects to show them how the things they do everyday—like taking showers, eating meat, and commuting, for example—all have an effect on the environment.

And what about your research?

My expertise is in atmospheric science, and I’ve studied ozone extensively in my research. My current research focuses on climate change and air pollution in the Chicago area, so I’m working to downscale global environmental problems to the local level.

How did you become interested in environmental research?

I studied radar meteorology at a school called the Nanjing Institute of Meteorology in China. While I was in college, three scientists won the Nobel Prize in chemistry because of their study of ozone. It was in the news a lot and that was when I became aware of the ozone problem. It generated a lot of interest among young scientists, including myself.

How do you think the new Institute of Environmental Sustainability will affect the environmental science program?

The new institute brings the environmental researchers on campus together under one roof. And you’ve seen how wonderful the building looks—it helps to attract brilliant students to our new institute and prepare them to become leaders who can solve our environmental problems. I feel our institute will create a ripple effect: We are here as a small, local school, but we will be able to reach grander scales through the actions and influences made by our students.

Any hobbies or interests that balance your busy academic schedule?

I have a cat. She, like all cats, is very independent, so she doesn’t take much of my time. I do yoga, read, watch television and go to the movies. And I watch Chinese soap operas! (laughs)

About the professor

Hometown: Grew up in the Hunan province of China; now lives in Burr Ridge

Professor at Loyola since: 2009

Courses taught: Weather and Climatology (ENVS 214); Energy and the Environment (ENVS 273); and Human Impact on the Environment (ENVS 281).