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!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Impromptu Lake Michigan Field Study

What do you do when you're sitting in your office at the end of a summer day and you hear there's 7 foot waves projected over Lake Michigan for the next day? If you're interested in the production of particles from wave breaking processes over the Great lakes like we are in the Pratt and Ault Labs, you grab your camping gear and whatever scientific instruments you can carry, and drive to the coast with only a few hours notice. Arriving at Van Buren State Park campground along the Lake Michigan coast a bit before midnight, Ault Lab summer graduate rotation student Isabel Colon-Bernal and I, Pratt Lab member Nate May, quickly set up our tents and aerosol sampling instruments in a protective case by car headlight and laid down for some needed rest. 
Campsite location with aerosol sampling instrument case on the bottom right.
After rains overnight and through the morning dampened our tents (and the mood), the sun shone all day. The sandy beach, dunes, and rolling waves over the lake provided a picturesque location to do science. Using portable battery packs, the aerosol sampling instruments were set up on the beach for the day, only a few meters away from the breaking waves.
High winds and waves were constant on Lake Michigan throughout the day.
Crashing waves on Lake Michigan made it almost seem like the ocean.
The aerosol sampling instrument case had a prime location on the beach during the first day of the study. 
As we packed up the instruments from the beach to bring them back to the campsite to sample overnight the effects of smoke Canadian wildfires were apparent as the sun set with brilliant color.
Sunset over Lake Michigan after a productive day of science on the beach.
Before we packed up the next afternoon to drive back to Ann Arbor, we went back to the lake to test the water quality and collect a water sample. The water sample will be used in the lab to generate aerosols that we will compare to the particles observed during this study. Surprisingly, there were hardly any waves when we sampled, a huge change in less than a day! Although it was a bit sad to leave the beach and head back to the lab, we are excited to start our analysis to see how the differences in wave conditions over Lake Michigan affects the particle composition.
The same location on Lake Michigan the day after the high wave event.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Welcome Ryan!

Welcome Ryan Cook!  Ryan is an incoming Chemistry PhD student who is completing a summer research rotation in the Pratt lab!  Ryan recently graduated from Appalachian State University and was awarded a Rackham Merit Fellowship at the University of Michigan for graduate school.  We are excited to have you in the lab this summer!