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