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Rachel was our closest-to-home intern this year, coming up from Colorado Springs and Colorado College where she was a junior studying environmental science with a chemistry concentration. She fit right into Professor Sonia Kreidenweis' atmospheric chemistry group looking at the role of aqueous-phase chemistry in aerosol-cloud interactions.

Rachel notes that volatile organic compounds (VOCs) react in the atmosphere to produce secondary organic aerosol (SOA). She says a better understanding of aqueous-phase SOA formation and evolution is needed to improve climate models and our current understanding of the atmosphere.

Pyruvic acid is ubiquitous in the atmosphere and currently used in climate models as a proxy for similar molecules. Aqueous-phase pyruvic acid was photolyzed and aerosolized to characterize the formed SOA. Rachel then examined the resulting change in aerosol mass and change in the formed aerosol's ability to act as cloud condensation nuclei.

Her results may be found on her research poster titled Pyruvic acid photolysis: Characterization of the secondary organic aerosol formed.

Rachel's research interests include climate modeling, human impacts and environmental policy. She is from Denver, Colorado and enjoys playing tennis and skiing.