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Sarah Petters, PhD

Assistant Research Engineer
Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT)
University of California Riverside
Email: find it here

In 2023 I joined the faculty of the Bourns College of Engineering at UCR as an Assistant Research Engineer, primarily investigating aerosol composition, phase state, and aerosol-water interaction. My research lab will work on the development of continuous-flow aerosol analytical techniques. Prior to this, I studied techniques for characterizing microplastics in sea spray aerosol at Aarhus University in Denmark.

Atmospheric Processes Research
Center for Engineering Research and Technology

Atmospheric chemistry focuses on chemical processes occurring in the lower atmosphere. I study aerosol physical chemistry and measurement systems and have led the publication of research on multiphase reactions, aerosol water uptake, CCN activity, viscosity, and microplastics. My contributions follow themes of aerosol solution thermodynamics, gas/particle exchange of organics and water, and reactions occurring in humidified aerosols.


Ph.D., Atmospheric Science, North Carolina State University (2015)
M.S., Atmospheric Science, North Carolina State University (2011)
B.S., Physics, North Carolina State University (2008)

Aerosols impact both health and climate

Submicron aerosols in the atmospheric boundary layer contribute to the global burden of disease, regional haze, the carbon cycle, and the global climate system.

Aerosols are a top threat to global public health, causing 3 to 9 million premature deaths every year. The model predictions that support public policy are imperfect, lacking critical details in their treatment of toxic aerosol compounds and of nonlinear chemical interactions in urban air.

Aerosols nucleate cloud droplets, regulating cloud optical and microphysical properties and substantially impacting surface temperatures. To improve climate predictions and proposals for geoengineering, we need to continue to improve our process-level understanding of aerosol budgets and aerosol-cloud interaction.

I study chemical reactions occurring in aerosols and droplets and the dynamic exchange of material between particulate and gas phases, touching on various themes in climate, atmospheric science, air quality, environmental health, chemistry, physics, and engineering.

Awards and Honors

Juan Fernandez de la Mora Prize
2023, American Association for Aerosol Research - Instrumentation Award (photo)

Paul J. Crutzen Award for Early Career Scientists
2022, Int'l Commission on Atmospheric Chemistry and Global Pollution (photo)

Chair, Aerosol Physics Working Group
2022, American Association for Aerosol Research (vice-chair 2021)

NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellowship
2017–2019, National Science Foundation

Invited Speaker, 14th Atmospheric Chemistry Colloquium for Emerging Senior Scientists (ACCESS XIV)
2017, Gordon Research Conference on Atmospheric Chemistry

Master's Thesis Award, Math, Physical Sciences and Engineering
2013, Conference of Southern Graduate Schools

Research Spotlight
2012, Eos Trans. of the American Geophysical Union

Chemical transformations in the boundary layer

Copyright (C) Sarah Petters