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!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Eclipse 2017!

On August 21st, the Pratt and Ault labs took an afternoon break to see the near-total solar eclipse over Ann Arbor! Fortunately, the unpredictable Michigan weather cooperated enough to see the 80% coverage before storm clouds rolled in. We all had a great time joining the hundreds of people who gathered on the UM Diag to view this amazing event!
The Pratt and Ault Labs on the UM Diag

Near 80% coverage, taken from a cell phone camera and behind solar eclipse glasses!
The tree canopy on the Diag acting as a camera obscura, projecting the crescent of the sun! Hundreds of spectators in the background
The cloud cover was just right to snap an unfiltered photo of the sun

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

There's No Place Like Nome!

The town of Nome is located right on the Norton Sound, part of the Bering Sea. I enjoyed beautiful (if chilly) beach views throughout my trip!
Last week I (Rachel) took my first (sub)Arctic research adventure to Nome, Alaska! By now, the Pratt Lab is well acquainted with Alaskan travels, but this trip was full of firsts for me and the group: my first trip to Alaska, my first time on an icebreaker, the first deployment of our new MOUDI, and the first helicopter trip for both the MOUDI and me! 

My first morning in Nome, I had a chance to walk around and tour the town - which took about 30 min! I was able to see all the highlights - I watched gold mining dredges from the beach, grabbed a photo of the largest gold pan in North America, and saw the arch marking the end of the famous Iditarod sled dog race that happens every spring. 
The largest gold pan welcomes everyone to Nome
The end of the Iditarod, which runs from Anchorage to Nome

The Araon has arrived in Nome!
I was in town to visit the icebreaker Araon, a Korean research vessel, and install our MOUDI aerosol impactor onboard. The Araon left from Incheon, South Korea in late July and made a stop in Nome before continuing on from two research legs in the Alaskan Arctic, through the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. We are collaborating with Prof. Saewung Kim's research group from the University of California, Irvine to collect aerosol particles with our MOUDI throughout the research cruise (thanks Blanca!) for later chemical analysis.

Due to the logistics of transporting people and cargo (via helicopter!), I arrived aboard the Araon with time to take a tour and get acquainted with the ship before my equipment arrived. I also had the neat/very stressful experience of watching from the helideck as my brand new instrument and supplies were transported via cargo net beneath the helicopter to the ship. What seemed like a short 3 minute trip when I was in the helicopter seemed like a lifetime as I watched my cargo get flown over empty air and open water. Luckily, everything was well packed in sturdy crates :)
The most stressful part of the trip!
A view of the ship from the compass deck.
KOPRI is the Korean Polar Research Institute,
our collaborators for this study.

Step 1: make sure the instrument enclosure is really secure!
Step 2: install MOUDI inside and set up for sampling! 

I only had a day and a half (about one day once my cargo was onboard) to get the instrument set up and ready for sampling, so we had to work hard. I didn't mind long hours though - I had a wonderful view and there was plenty of sunlight - at the beginning of August in Nome, sunrise is ~ 6 am and sunset is ~ midnight. With so much light, I didn't feel tired!

A beautiful view from the ship around 11 pm. 
By the next afternoon, we were ready for sampling and it was sadly time for me to leave. The ship was great - wonderful Korean food (kimchi at every meal!), comfortable cabins, and extensive laboratories. Even with my short time onboard, I was able to meet many of the other scientists for the Arctic cruise and learn about the awesome research being conducted! Now the MOUDI is collecting samples, and in a month or two I'll have new data to work with. It was an awesome, fun, and productive few days in the field.
A final view of the ship as I took the helicopter back to shore. 

By the time I left, Nome was quite the research hub! In addition to the Araon, the USCGC Healy, the UAF research vessel Sikuliaq, a Japanese research vessel, and a NASA jet all made appearances. I'm excited to be able to say I at least had a small part in all the science happening!
A few of the research vessels in Nome my last day.
Before I left Nome completely, I was able to do a little more exploring and see some wildlife. I fulfilled a personal goal of seeing musk ox (they're so cool/weird looking!), I saw streams full of salmon, and lots of birds (my parents are jealous!) I didn't expect 70 degrees and sunny in Alaska, but it made for a beautiful way to wrap up my first Alaskan experience. 
Musk Ox in the tundra
look closely, the water is full of salmon!

peregrin falcon on the tundra
an Arctic tern (so neat!) in flight

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

2017 Karle Symposium

5 graduate students and 1 REU student from the Pratt Lab presented their research at the 2017 University of Michigan Department of Chemistry Karle Symposium. PhD student Nate May won a travel award sponsored by the Dow Chemical Company for an outstanding student talk for his research on "Environmental Chemistry Research in the General Chemistry Laboratory." Congratulations to everyone who presented!

Nate May - Talk: "Environmental Chemistry Research in the General Chemistry Laboratory

Stephen McNamara - Talk: "Nitrogen Oxide Influence Chlorine Chemistry in the Alaskan Arctic"

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Congratulations to the new Dr. Matthew Gunsch!

Congratulations to the first Pratt Lab Ph.D. - Dr. Matthew Gunsch!! Today he defended his dissertation titled "Online single particle chemical characterization of aerosol populations in remote environments".
Defense presentation

Congratulating Dr. Gunsch!

Dr. Gunsch & Prof. Pratt