A professor at the University of Montana ranked among the world’s most cited researchers, according to the Web of Science Group’s annual compiled list. Robert Yokelson, a research professor in the UM’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, studies the chemistry of smoke and burning biomass and its impact on the atmosphere and climate. Dr. Yokelson’s designation as a top-cited researcher means that he is part of the 1%--only about 6,300 researchers worldwide—to be recognized as one of the world’s most cited. As stated by Dr. Yokelson, his work focuses on quantifying the impact of smoke. His research can inform individuals, such as farmers, about their decisions regarding smoke, air quality, and the atmosphere.

“What we try to do is measure what’s in smoke, and we do that for a variety of reasons. We want to know how the smoke impacts the atmosphere [and] how it might impact human health. [We also measure] how prescribed fires and wildfires might be different, so we can see what the benefits are of land managers using prescribed fires and quantifying that, and also so we can improve smoke forecasts.”

Dr. Yokelson mentions that many who cite his work on the chemistry of smoke are researchers studying the atmosphere and climate.

“There are many scientists throughout the world who are trying to understand the atmosphere better, and as part of that, they need to understand what’s in smoke so they can deal with that aspect of the question properly.”

Dr. Yokelson has travelled extensively to conduct his research. In a news release from the UM, Dr. Yokelson included the following: “Fires are one of the major influences on the global atmosphere. I decided 25 years ago to deploy advanced technology around the world to measure the chemistry of fresh smoke and how it evolves. I think this award validates the importance of our results, and it’s definitely a group achievement made possible with my collaborators and the excellent graduate students and postdoctoral scholars on our team.”

The Web of Science Group’s 2019 list compiling the world’s most cited researchers can be found here. As of today, the list reports that Dr. Yokelson’s 110 publications have been cited 7,838 times.