My interests

I am interested in the science of climate change and air quality. These days I mainly focus on particles, lately airborne bacteria, spores and pollen which may impact clouds and precipitation in interesting ways. I grew up in Northern California and I play the guitar and the violin. I love to go running, biking and backpacking and I’m pretty into fruit and baking and baking things with fruit in them.

How I became a scientist

When I was in grade school I fell in love with science and with Jane Goodall through her books about her work with chimpanzees. I was a rabid environmentalist from then on and desperately wanted to be a marine biologist. As a teenager I volunteered at a wildlife hospital in California where I confronted my fear of blood and deep-seated squeamishness. I fainted almost every day for a week while assisting with surgeries and bandaging injured animals. Eventually I was assigned the task of feeding baby birds with an eye dropper which required no particular skill and left me with plenty of time to contemplate alternative future careers. I knew I wanted to be a scientist and work in a field with a positive environmental impact. Chemistry was the perfect balance of a subject that I found interesting and could be applied to problems I cared about but which probably didn’t involve any bodily fluids. In college I worked mainly on water quality, in grad school I transitioned to looking at the atmosphere and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.

How my work benefits society

In graduate school I researched alkyl nitrates and the ozone production cycle. My work helped to clarify the best strategies for controlling ozone production in a variety of environments. In 2011, I published a paper quantifying the production of black carbon aerosol from surface oil burning during the Gulf Oil Spill which can help gulf coast communities assess their increased exposure to particulates during that period.