The atmosphere is a multiphase environment. The chemistry in the condensed phase or at interfaces is substantially less well understood than that in the gas phase. I use mass spectrometry to investigate the behavior of organic radicals in different phase environments.
Atmospheric chemistry textbooks typically display "canonical" oxidation scheme for organic oxidation that underpins our understanding of organic oxidation chemistry. I search for and study chemistry that happens outside of this scheme, trying to understand its impacts on the troposphere.
Atmospheric oxidation is a highly complex, multigenerational process. I use automated mechanism generation to explore oxidation networks systematically, explain experimental results, and search for unexplored reaction pathways.
Carbonyl oxides are reactive intermediates formed in the reactions of alkenes and ozone in the Earth's atmosphere. Their unimolecular decay is a major non-photolytic source of tropospheric OH radicals, the most important atmospheric oxidant. I used laser spectroscopy (more specifically IR action spectroscopy) to study the unimolecular decay of and production of OH from carbonyl oxides.
Future Research Interests
Spectroscopic studies of the Elementary Reactions of Atmospheric Reactive Intermediates
Gas-phase laser spectroscopy is a powerful tool for developing a mechanistic understanding of individual elementary reaction steps and the reactive intermediates involved. Often, this approach is coupled to flash-photolytic generation of individual reactive intermediates, allowing for the selection of single isomers of reactive species for further study. Drawing on my experience in laser spectroscopy, my future work will focus on using these tools both to understand canonical atmospheric reaction steps at a molecular level, and explore new reactivity of functionalized reactive intermediates.
Exploring the impact of elementary reaction steps on atmospheric composition
By performing chamber studies of simplified reaction systems, I will try to draw connections between the fundamental studies of reactive intermediate chemistry described here, and atmospheric composition. Such work will allow for the exploration of the impacts of individual reaction steps in the context of larger reaction networks. How does a single reaction step or reactive intermediate structure change aerosol yields? radical cycling? O3 formation?