Fred J. Brechtel


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Fred J. Brechtel is the CEO and Owner of Brechtel, where he manages product R&D, marketing and sales activities, and the day-to-day operations of the firm as part of a father-son team. He holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in mechanical engineering from UC Berkeley and a Ph.D in atmospheric science/chemistry from Colorado State University. Before joining his father at the firm, Fred spent most his summers in high school and college working in machine shops and other high-tech fabrication firms where he gained an appreciation for what it takes to build things. Before returning to graduate school he spent three years as a design engineer in industry. As part of his Ph.D., Fred participated in the international Aerosol Characterization Experiment (ACE-1), where he operated multiple aerosol measurements on Macquarie Island (a remote island near Antarctica) for two months.

The focus of his Ph.D. work was trying to answer the question: why do some particles act as cloud nuclei while others don’t? After completing his Ph.D., he worked at Brookhaven National Laboratory for 3 years as a staff scientist building new aircraft-deployable aerosol instruments and operating them on-board the DOE G-1 aircraft during numerous field studies. After leaving Brookhaven, Fred collaborated closely with the Seinfeld group at Caltech over a nine year period as an adjunct researcher.

At Brechtel, Fred focuses the team on creating new devices to improve our understanding of the role of ambient particulate matter in global climate change and human health effects. He is keenly interested in figuring out new ways to measure air pollutants that are easier to use and less costly. His current focus is developing miniaturized and cost-effective devices to measure aerosol physical, chemical and cloud nucleating properties. As the principal investigator on over nine Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants over the past seven years, Fred actively pursues funding for the R&D activities at Brechtel.