Welcome to the Pratt Lab blog! Dr. Kerri Pratt is an assistant professor in the Departments of Chemistry and Earth & Environmental Sciences and faculty associate of the Program in the Environment at the University of Michigan. We study atmospheric trace gases, particles, snow, and clouds and their interactions with the biosphere (forests) and cryosphere (snow and sea ice). Our interdisciplinary research has relevance to climate change, air quality, and human health. As an analytical chemistry lab, we primarily use novel mass spectrometry techniques during our field research. We invite you to follow our adventures in (and outside!) the lab!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Pratt Lab funded by Univ. of Michigan MCubed project!

Prof. Kerri Pratt is leading a MCubed project at the University of Michigan to study the Climate and Air Quality Impacts of Greenhouse Gases and Atmospheric Particles in Northern Michigan.  The MCubed program funds seed projects for interdisciplinary research spanning several colleges at the University of Michigan.  Prof. Eric Kort (Dept. of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences, College of Engineering), Prof. Andrew Ault (Dept. of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health), and Prof. Kerri Pratt (Dept. of Chemistry, College of Literature, Arts, and Sciences) will study forest-atmosphere interactions and the influence of transported pollution at the University of Michigan Biological Station.


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Ault-Pratt Summer Party

Celebrating a productive, fun summer!
From left: Rosina Ho Wu (summer intern), Matt Gunsch, Amy Bondy (Ault Lab), Eric Boone, Prof. Kerri Pratt, Jillian Cellini, and Dan Gardner (Ault Lab)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Trip to the University of California, San Diego to visit Shirley

One of the first goals here in the Pratt Lab is to build an aerosol time-of-flight mass spectrometer (ATOFMS) capable of flying on an airplane. As part of her Ph.D. dissertation, Professor Kerri Pratt led the development of the aircraft ATOFMS (nicknamed Shirley) (Pratt et al. 2009, Analytical Chem.) in Professor Kim Prather's lab at the University of California, San Diego.

On Thursday, we (Prof. Pratt and myself, Matt Gunsch) left the comforts of the University of Michigan behind to embark on a two day journey to visit the Prather Lab so that I could become more acquainted with the A-ATOFMS that we are building. We departed bright and early Thursday morning from Detroit, arriving in San Diego in the early afternoon after a delayed flight and layover in Washington, DC.
Watching the sun rise at 30,000 feet.
Upon arrival to the Prather Lab, we were greeted by Jack Cahill, a 5th year graduate student who is currently working with several of the ATOFMS instruments housed in the Prather Lab. He spent the afternoon with us discussing Shirley, lending his valuable insights as we asked him all of the questions we had about the instrument and how it had been updated since Prof. Pratt's time in the Prather Lab.

Jack Cahill (left) and Matt Gunsch (right) discussing the ATOFMS.
With our heads overflowing with knowledge, we left the Prather Lab in the early evening to head out to grab some food before calling it a night. We dined at Yummy Maki Yummy Box, enjoying their delicious sushi. We called it a night shortly after, being thoroughly exhausted from our trip out.

A view of La Jolla on our way to dinner.
The following morning we met with Joe Mayer, the Prather Lab machinist who machined all of the ATOFMS instruments currently in the Prather Lab, including Shirley. We spent all morning and some of the afternoon discussing Shirley with Joe to help us get ready to begin machining our own instrument very soon. We left our meeting with Joe and headed back to the Prather Lab for some last minute questions for Jack and to pick up a 532nm laser that Professor Prather was kind enough to let us borrow for our instrument. We said our goodbyes to Jack and Shirley and headed back to the airport, stopping for some delightful pizza at Regents Pizzeria on the way. An uneventful 5 hour flight later, we were back in Michigan feeling fully prepared to begin construction on our own A-ATOFMS. Let the fun begin!
                          

Monday, August 19, 2013

Lab Field Trip to the University of Michigan Biological Station

The Pratt Lab embarked from Ann Arbor, MI on our adventure to the University of Michigan Biological Station (UMBS), near Pellston, MI, with the Ault Lab on last Thursday morning. A four hour drive later, we were all up in beautiful northern Michigan!
Douglas Lake, located on the UMBS property
The University of Michigan Biological Station (UMBS) is a unique research facility located in northern Michigan. The university acquired the land over 100 years ago and have since used it for many different kinds of research including ecological, atmospheric, and geological research. The multidisciplinary community found at the Biological Station allows many different kinds of scientists to collaborate. It is also home to two atmospheric research towers: PROPHET (Program for Research on Oxidants: PHotochemistry, Emissions, and Transport) and AmeriFlux.  The unique interdisciplinary community, as well as the presence of the towers, makes UMBS a great place for the Pratt Group to conduct atmospheric research in the field.

After a fantastic tour of the station with UMBS Director Prof. Knute Nadelhoffer (Thank you!) when we first arrived, we were able to see AmeriFlux tower facility, which is used to study carbon dioxide and water movement within the forest ecosystem.
AmeriFlux Tower
We were then able to see the top portion of the canopy by taking a ride on a Michigan-themed cherry picker with Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Ph.D. student Susan (Thank you!), who was up at UMBS for the summer studying light penetration in the forest canopy.
From left: Rosina Ho Wu, Jillian Cellini, Eric Boone, Matt Gunsch, Dan Gardner (Ault Lab), Dr. Ault, Dr. Pratt, and Amy Bondy (Ault Lab) in the UMBS forest
Graduate student Matt Gunsch taking a ride on the cherry picker
The next morning after breakfast, we all took a nature hike through an area through "the gorge", located on the UMBS property.
Beaver dam we found on our nature hike
Front view of the beaver dam
After our short nature-filled excursion, we were able to visit (and climb!) the PROPHET tower with Prof. Mary Anne Carroll (Thank you!). The PROPHET research facility has focused on biogenic hydrocarbon emissions from the forest ecosystem and their oxidation in the atmosphere. The PROPHET tower is located in a well characterized part of a mixed coniferous/deciduous forest.
Amy Bondy (Ault Lab), Matt Gunsch, and Eric Boone before the climb up the PROPHET tower
Rosina Ho Wu, Jillian Cellini, and Dan Gardner (Ault Lab) climbing up the PROPHET tower
View from the top of the PROPHET tower
Rosina Ho Wu after scaling the PROPHET tower
Jillian Cellini after climbing the PROPHET tower
Sign outside PROPHET research facility
After touring the PROPHET facility and having one last meal in the UMBS cafeteria, the Pratt and Ault labs departed for Ann Arbor after a very productive two days at the Biological Station.  We look forward to coming back for field research!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Vaughan Symposium

After only 1(!) month in the Pratt Lab, everyone presented their summer research projects in the 6th annual Vaughan Symposium in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Michigan.  They did a great job!

 Rosina Ho Wu (summer intern/incoming grad student), Jillian Cellini (rising senior undergrad), and Eric Boone (incoming grad student)

Matt Gunsch (rising 2nd year grad student) and Prof. Kerri Pratt