Atmospheric aerosol and its effects on clouds are responsible for most of the uncertainty in predictions of future climate. Primary biological aerosol (PBA - consisting of airborne bacteria, fungal spores and pollen) is a subset of atmospheric aerosol that can strongly affect cloud properties, precipitation type and precipitation amount, yet existing atmospheric measurements are sparse. PBA emissions also affect local and regional air quality, causing allergenic responses in humans and crop and livestock health. The Perring lab combines real-time measurements of biological aerosol with offline analyses of specific biomarkers (e.g. amino acids or certain sugar alcohols) and ice nucleation activity in aerosol and precipitation samples. Ambient data collected in Upstate NY will be used to examine seasonal variations in biological aerosol composition and behavior. Laboratory experiments will investigate changing ice nucleation activity as a function of exposure to UV light and atmospheric oxidants.
Students who have done well in Chem 101/102 or Chem 111 are encouraged to apply. Motivated students in other scientific disciplines will also be considered.