Aerosols (also referred to as particulate matter, PM) are tiny particles suspended in the air and they play a central role in two major environmental issues confronting the world today: climate change and air quality. Aerosols impact climate through changing the Earth’s energy balance by directly absorbing or scattering solar radiation and acting as seeds for cloud formation. The radiative effects of aerosols represent the single largest source of uncertainty in our understanding of climate change. Further, air pollution impacts both human and ecosystem health. Exposure to fine aerosols (particles with a diameter smaller than 2.5 µm, PM2.5) is associated with many adverse health effects and accounts for millions of premature deaths each year worldwide.
Our research focuses on both laboratory experiments and ambient field measurements to understand the formation mechanisms and evolution of atmospheric aerosols, as well as to link aerosol chemical composition and properties to their health effects. This research includes conducting chamber experiments in which specific compounds of interest can be isolated and studied under simple, well-controlled oxidation environments, allowing for a more detailed and direct characterization of the composition, chemical, and physical properties of aerosols. We also conduct field measurement campaigns and integrated analysis of multidimensional mass spectrometry datasets to investigate the chemistry and life cycles (sources, processes, and fates) of ambient aerosols. Additionally, we work on investigation of cellular toxicity upon aerosol exposure using a wide range of high-throughput and physiologically relevant cellular assays.