Research

Research in our group examines many aspects of environmental chemistry. We use and develop state-of-the-science analytical techniques to characterize the sources and fates of chemicals in the environment. We combine traditional analytical separation science methods with advanced atmospheric and in situ sampling techniques to improve our understanding of issues at the forefront of environmental chemistry. Click to see a list of our publications and some of our collaborators.

Current projects in the group include:

Characterizing optically absorbing chemicals in particles

The impact of aerosols is the largest source of uncertainty in our understanding human impact on climate. Organic molecules in particles can absorb light, but there is little known about the chemical identity of these species. By applying novel analytical techniques to real and laboratory-generated particle samples, we can begin to understand the relationship between structure, source, and absorption.

Atmospheric sources, fate, and transport of organic contaminants

Organic contaminants used in commercial products, including perfluoroalkyl acids and flame retardant compounds, are found ubiquitously in the environment. These chemicals are bioaccumulative and can be toxic to the environment and to humans. We are developing new analytical methods to better detect these compounds in atmospheric gas, particle, and water samples. Using these methods, we analyze samples collected from numerous environments (indoor, marine, remote) to better understand the sources of contaminants to the atmosphere and how they are transported within the environment.

Ocean-atmosphere interactions

The ocean covers the majority of our planet and its emissions can impact the atmosphere. We are developing organic markers to detect the influence of the ocean on particles. Using controlled laboratory studies and ambient measurements, we can understand how these compounds enter the atmosphere and their potential distribution in particles.

Relationship between molecular properties and contaminant fate

Understanding how persistent organic pollutants (POPs) move through the environment is critical to determining potential health and environmental risks. Partitioning properties (e.g. vapour pressure) are often used as a tool to understand transport and fate of POPs. Unfortunately, measurements of these properties are often difficult or impossible. We use computational techniques to probe the molecular properties of POPs and assess how they can be used to predict these properties.