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!

Saturday, June 28, 2014


Earlier this week, Nate May (me) and Professor Kerri Pratt, along with Professor Andrew Ault and Ault lab member Dan Gardner, traveled to the University of Michigan Biological Station (UMBS) in Pellston, Michigan for four days to begin a summer long field research campaign. There to assist our team from the University of Michigan were summer REU student Stephanie Schmidt of Michigan State University and Professor Steve Bertman of Western Michigan University.
Nate May, Dr. Bertman and REU student Stephanie Schmidt at the base of the PROPHET tower.
The main sampling site for the summer will be the PROPHET (Program for Research on Oxidants: PHotochemistry, Emissions, and Transport) tower and laboratory, which is located in a forested area on the (UMBS) property. The tower, erected in December of 1996, is 103 feet and 5 inches tall, reaching above the treetops and offering views from the top of the Mackinac Bridge over 15 miles away. Most of the work this week was focused on preparing the PROPHET site for the official start of research in July. Battling merciless swarms of mosquitoes, our team was productive and enjoyed the experience of being out in the field for the first time together.One of the first tasks to prepare the site for the upcoming research was to clean the glass manifold that runs the full length of the tower and the full length of the lab to deliver gases for analysis. Dr. Bertman's years of experience with the PROPHET tower were invaluable during this process and for many other tasks over the week.
Nate May and Dr. Pratt removing a bend in the glass manifold for cleaning.
Next, a new copper tube for aerosol sampling was run to the top of the tower and wrapped in insulation. During this process I made my inaugural trip to the top of the tower, an exhilarating experience to say the least. The copper sampling line was then connected to a steel manifold installed in the wall of the lab that will allow us sample atmospheric aerosols with a variety of instruments at once, including our Aerosol Time of Flight Mass Spectrometer which will be brought up to UMBS in July.

Dan Gardner, Dr. Bertman and Nate May starting to install the copper tubing that will be used for aerosol sampling. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Prof. Pratt awarded ASMS Research Award

At the recent Annual American Society for Mass Spectrometry (ASMS) Conference in Baltimore, MD, Prof. Kerri Pratt was awarded the ASMS Research Award, given to two young assistant professors for promise in the field of mass spectrometry.  Thank you very much to Thermo Scientific for sponsoring this award!

Welcome Stephanie!

Welcome Stephanie Schmidt!  Stephanie just finished her junior year at Michigan State University, where her majors are Chemistry, Mathematics, and Environmental Sciences & Management.  As part of the University of Michigan Biological Station REU program (Biosphere-Atmosphere-Hydrosphere Interactions in a Changing Global Environment), Stephanie is working with the Pratt and Ault labs to measure atmospheric particles at the University of Michigan Biological Station in northern Michigan!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

ASMS Annual Conference

This past week graduate student Eric Boone (me) and Professor Kerri Pratt traveled to Baltimore, MD to attend the American Society for Mass Spectrometry (ASMS) annual conference. Professor Pratt received one of two young researcher awards presented by ASMS to new professors who propose new and innovative research techniques utilizing mass spectrometry, which was very exciting!

I presented a poster of my work on aerosol and cloud chemistry in the southeastern United States as a part of the SOAS field campaign. The conference presented a unique opportunity to discuss the work with colleagues who are not necessarily familiar with environmental chemistry, but have a vast knowledge on applications of mass spectrometry. Also, I was able to meet several people who authored scientific papers my work is based on, which makes reading papers take on a new experience as I can place faces with the names on the page. Being in an atmosphere full of scientists and cutting edge technology was an interesting experience to say the least!

Overall, ASMS was a fantastic time and I will be very excited if I return in the future!

Presenting my poster on the first day of the conference

Monday, June 2, 2014

Welcome Katherine!

Welcome Katherine De Los Santos!  Katherine is a sophomore Physics major at Queen's College in New York City and joined the Pratt lab this summer as a Physics REU participant!  Katherine will be working in the University of Michigan Physics Electronics Shop to help build the custom electronics for our aircraft aerosol time-of-flight mass spectrometer.