David Y. H. Pui

Regents Professor

Department of Mechanical Engineering, College of Science and Engineering, 2019

David Y. H. Pui, Distinguished McKnight University Professor, L.M. Fingerson/TSI Incorporated Chair in Mechanical Engineering, is a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering in the College of Science and Engineering. He also holds the honorific title of Presidential Chair Professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in Shenzhen, China. In addition, Pui is the director of the University of Minnesota’s Particle Technology Laboratory (PTL), one of the leading small particle research centers in the country, as well as the Center for Filtration Research (CFR). The CFR is regarded as the leading international center on air and water filtration; its members include companies such as 3M, Boeing, and Samsung Electronics. Pui is a preeminent scholar in industrial applications of aerosol technology. He is celebrated as the developer of several instruments for measuring and classifying aerosols, which are the basis for two ISO Standards. Also noteworthy is his work on air pollution abatement in China. 

Pui is a truly prolific and innovative researcher. He is considered the world’s leading expert in nanoparticle characterization and filtration technology of fine particles, and is well known for his groundbreaking work on electrospraying and charging of aerosols. He not only shaped the academic world in the field of particle technology, but is also highly influential in commercializing his equipment, holding 40 patents. He developed the Differential Mobility Analyzer (DMA), which is widely used across the world to measure particle size distribution and aerosol number concentration; advanced instruments for particle sampling and measurement continue to be developed based on his pioneering work. Most recently, his research has focused on air quality in China. He invented a solar-assisted large-scale cleaning system (SALSCS), which is based on advanced filtration technology and uses clean and renewable energy for environmental protection and pollution control. A pilot project using this system has been established in Xi’an, China, and has yielded promising preliminary results. A second generation SALSCS was recently completed in Yancheng, and a third is under construction. This technology has the potential to significantly improve the health of the people of China, the largest nation in the world. Pui has over 380 publications, and his work has nearly 13,000 citations on Google Scholar. At the University of Minnesota, he has been PI or co-PI on grants and contracts totaling over $28 million.

Because of his outstanding contributions to his profession, Pui has been the recipient of several prestigious awards. In 2013, he received the Einstein Professorship—the highest award of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS)—and in 2010, he was awarded the Fuchs Memorial Award, which is the highest honor conferred jointly by the American, Japanese, and German aerosol associations. He is also a fellow of the American Society of Engineers and a recipient of the Max Planck Research Award (1993), the International Aerosol Fellow Award (1998), and the David Sinclair Award from the American Association of Aerosol Research (AAAR) (2002), to name a few. In 2016, he was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering. In the last ten years, he has given over 130 invited lectures on five continents.

Pui is also an exceptional teacher and mentor. He has taught 12 courses in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, as well as a number of professional training short courses, which provide valuable continuing education opportunities for practitioners in the field. He has mentored 18 postdocs, 29 doctoral students, and 36 M.S students. Many of his former students and postdocs have become highly successful academics and industry leaders; one of his former students, Xiang Zhang, was named president of the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2018. Pui is described as an outstanding professor who is mindful and supportive of his students’ and mentees’ career development and known for fostering a team-oriented environment in his lab. He frequently nominates students and colleagues for professional awards.

Pui’s service to the University of Minnesota and the field of aerosol science is inspirational. From 1994-98, he was the director of the University’s China Center, where he worked to promote academic exchanges with Chinese scholars. In 2014, he and a colleague at CAS organized the first UMN-CAS Bilateral Seminar, gathering a group of 100 scientists from CAS and the University (led by President Eric Kaler) to discuss ways to prevent and control air pollution in Xi’an. Additionally, he has served on a number of University-wide committees, such as the Provost’s Standing Committee for Dean Review and the Provost’s Grand Challenges Research Strategies Team. He assisted in the foundation of several aerosol associations across the world, including the AAAR, the European Aerosol Assembly, the Korean Association for Particle and Aerosol Research, and the International Aerosol Research Assembly (IARA). In relation with his work on the SALSCS, he has given many public lectures in China to educate the general public and the scientific community on pollution control. He also served as president of the AAAR from 2000-01 and the IARA from 2006-10, and on the advisory boards of a variety of major research centers.

Biographies are as-of time of award presentation.