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 the chemical interactions of atmospheric trace gases, particles, clouds, and snow, with a focus on the Polar Regions and wintertime environments. Our interdisciplinary research has relevance to climate change, air quality, and human health. As an analytical chemistry lab, we primarily apply novel mass spectrometry techniques to our field research. We invite you to follow our adventures in (and outside!) the lab!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Trip out to the Sea Ice

Today Kyle, Angela, and I rode snow machines out onto the sea ice with our ice guide and bear guard Glenn Roy (thank you!).  It was really windy (~30 mph), so it was pretty cold (wind chill of approx. minus 30F)!  Many folks have said "it's colder here in Ann Arbor!" with the polar vortex dipping down, but there is something about wind whipping across the frozen tundra and sea ice and blowing snow that makes it really cold!  We bundled up in many layers, my face mask froze solid, and we had duct tape on our faces in places that might be exposed (like between my face mask and ski goggles) to prevent frostbite.  The bits of uplifted blue sea ice were beautiful out by the lead (open water in a large crack in the sea ice).  Here are a few photos of our adventure to collect snow samples!
Uplifted sea ice with clouds over the open lead in the background
Our bear guard Glenn Roy keeping watch for polar bears while we collect snow samples
Kyle and Angela with our snow machines

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Heading back to Barrow!

From Saturday to Sunday, I (Prof. Pratt) flew back to Barrow, AK for air and snow sampling!  Here are a few photos from the trip:
"Baggage" (apparently someone really needs some soda!) being loaded during a stopover in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska
Prudhoe Bay (largest oilfield in North America)
Open leads in the ice near Barrow, AK
The "Barrow lead" opened in a big way on Sunday - approximately one month earlier and at a faster rate than previously. 
Watch a video of the dramatic lead opening on Feb. 23: Barrow Sea Ice Radar. 

Sunrise over the tundra and a herd of caribou

Monday, February 24, 2014

UMBS Winter Research Meeting

This past Friday Nate May (me) and Dan Gardner, accompanied by Professors Kerri Pratt and Andrew Ault, attended the University of Michigan Biological Station Winter Research Meeting in preparation for our upcoming field campaign in northern Michigan this summer. This event brought together a diverse group of scientists for a day of discourse on current and future research plans, collaborations, and the state of the University of Michigan Biological Stations, located in Pellston, Michigan. It was a great time to discuss research plans with collaborators Professor Eric Kort and post-doctoral researcher Dr. Mackenzie Smith of the College of Engineering, Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences. Their work is focused on measuring methane emissions in North America to identify the impact of the recent boom in the natural gas industry and is a part of an MCubed research project with Professors Kerri Pratt and Andrew Ault to investigate the effects of greenhouse gases and atmospheric particles on climate and air quality in Northern Michigan. While it was great to be exposed to so many different researchers about their exciting new projects, the highlight of the day was arguably the morning hand-drawn poster session. Dan, Mackenzie and I were given an hour, a set of markers, a large sheet of paper and the opportunity to use our artistic talents to communicate our research interests. The result, shown below, creatively displayed how a variety of anthropogenic (natural gas drilling, shipping, industry, etc.) and natural (lake spray particles, biogenic volatile organic compounds from trees, etc.) sources effect the atmospheric composition of northern Michigan. While drawing we were able to speak more about our research plans, gave each other some great ideas, and fostered future collaboration. Overall the day was a great exposure to the University of Michigan Biological Station and made us all very excited for this summer and all the great research we have planned!
The result of an hour of hard work on our hand-drawn poster!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

New Winter Group Photo!

Group photo after scaling the giant mount of snow!
Left to Right:
Prof. Kerri Pratt
Ryan Tedd (freshman UROP student, Engineering)
Jillian Cellini (senior, Earth Systems Science)
Wuliang Zhang (junior, Chemistry)
Zhuoyu Peng (junior, Chemistry)
Nate May (first-year graduate student)
Matt Gunsch (second-year graduate student)
Eric Boone (first-year graduate student)
hiding: the dancing cat

Thursday, February 6, 2014

We have moved into our new lab!

After being stuck in temporary lab space since July, the Pratt Lab has moved into our new, permanent home! Renovations were completed recently, and we are now completely moved in. It is nice to have a brand new, much more spacious lab to continue our research in!
Boxes of equipment laying throughout the new lab. 
After some organizing and moving our instruments down, it looks more like a lab and less like a storage locker.
Our new lab comes complete with an office/kitchen room (left) and wet lab (right).