The 2017 Arne Richter Award for Outstanding Early Career Scientists is awarded to Federico Bianchi for his exceptional contributions to understanding the formation process of new atmospheric particles through laboratory experiments and mountain expeditions.
After studying chemistry at the University of Milan, Federico Bianchi started as a Marie Curie PhD student at the Paul Scherrer institute working mainly on laboratory experiments where the aim was to simulate new particle formation at atmospheric relevant conditions. Bianchi proved to be a multitalented student: he built new gas analysers to measure ammonia and amines at really low concentrations, and he also deployed advanced mass spectrometers. During these years, his contribution was fundamental for the scientific outcome of the CLOUD experiment where many findings have been published in high impact peer-reviewed journals. After the laboratory experience, his passion for the mountains and burning scientific curiosity initiated a project using the same instrumentation as in the lab in remote areas in the free troposphere. The first selected location was the Jungfraujoch station in the hearth of the Alps (ca. 3500 m asl). The outcome of this study was astounding: even in the free troposphere in the middle of the Alps new particle formation can take place with almost solely organic compounds. These results have been acknowledged by being placed on the Science cover of the 27th of May 2016. After that, with the same instrumentation, he moved from the Alps to the Himalayas where he travelled all the way to the Everest base camp at an altitude of 5000 m asl. He is now searching for a new location where he can find the most pristine conditions that resemble the pre-industrial time. Bianchi has an outstanding scientific record. Even though he only finished his PhD in 2014, he has already authored some 35 peer-reviewed articles, several of them in high-ranking journals like Nature (4), Science (3), PNAS (3) and Nature Communications (1). Presently he is working at the University of Helsinki as a post doc and sub-group leader.