Areas of Expertise
Atmospheric particulate matter, or aerosol particles, have important implications for human health, visibility, and the global climate. Our ability to accurately predict ambient concentrations, chemical composition, and relevant properties (e.g., optical properties, toxicity, cloud forming potential, etc.) is limited primarily due to significant gaps in our understanding of how the organic aerosol fraction forms and evolves over time. Organic aerosol is immensely complex, containing hundreds to thousands of individual molecules, each with their own chemical properties and reactivities. Even the most carefully executed laboratory experiments and sophisticated models are unable to produce material with a chemical composition similar to that of the organic aerosol measured in the atmosphere, yielding quite possibly the biggest open question in atmospheric (or environmental) chemistry. In my research group we will address this significant knowledge gap by taking a multi-phase approach, studying the radical oxidation pathways occurring within three fundamentally distinct atmospheric molecular environments: the gas, organic aerosol, and aqueous phases. Student researchers will draw on techniques from across all areas of chemistry, utilizing a combination of organic synthesis, advanced chromatography, mass spectrometry, spectroscopy, and kinetic modeling to identify the major chemical mechanisms responsible for the formation and chemical evolution of organic aerosol particles.