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Sarah Petters, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Affiliate
Environmental Sciences and Engineering
Gillings School of Global Public Health
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Email: spetters(at)unc(dot)edu
Web: [UNC profile] [NCSU profile]

I am a postdoctoral research affiliate studying aerosol processes at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and I hold a Visiting Scholar appointment at North Carolina State University. I joined UNC as an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow to study the chemistry of humidified aerosols, fog, and cloud water.

I am an atmospheric chemist focusing on processes occurring in the lower atmosphere. I study aerosol physical chemistry, chemistry, and measurement systems and have led the publication of research on gas/particle partitioning, multiphase reactions, aerosol water uptake, CCN activity, viscosity, and measurement techniques. I lead projects on reaction pathways in humidified aerosols and the gas/particle exchange of organics, broadly applicable to air quality and climate science, and on the chemistry and physics of e-cigarette aerosols, an emerging public health issue.

Aerosols impact both health and climate

Submicron aerosols in the atmospheic boundary layere contribute to the global burden of disease, regional haze, the carbon cycle, and the global climate system. Aerosols reduce the life expectancy of up to 7 billion people worldwide. This staggering statistic affects 95% of the world’s population via cardiovascular and respiratory disease. Aerosols regulate the distribution of water vapor as it condenses to form clouds. Cloud adjustments to aerosols are substantial and remain the largest uncertainty in our understanding of climate. Uncovering processes contributing to aerosol mass in the atmosphere is an important challenge of great interest to the atmospheric science.

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

Vice-Chair (year 1) and Chair (year 2), Aerosol Physics Working Group
2021-2022, American Association for Aerosol Research

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

Education

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)


Chemical transformations in the boundary layer

Copyright (C) Sarah Petters