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Sarah Petters


I am a postdoctoral research associate and (former) NSF Postdoctoral Fellow 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 am an atmospheric chemist focusing on aerosol physical chemistry, chemistry, and measurement systems, and I have led the publication of research on aerosol water uptake, CCN activity, viscosity, and measurement techniques. Currently 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.

I received my PhD and MS in Atmospheric Science and BS in Physics from North Carolina State University. In 2012 my work was highlighted in Eos Trans. AGU and won the achievement award of the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools, and in 2016 I accepted the NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship to study the chemistry of humidified aerosols, fog, and cloud water. My work has received recognition nationally and internationally through invited seminars, including participation in the 14th Atmospheric Chemistry Colloquium for Emerging Senior Scientists convened at Brookhaven National Laboratory in 2017. I received the Certificate of Accomplishment in Teaching for extensive and reflective teaching in thermodynamics, physical meteorology, and scientific computing at North Carolina State University. In addition to service as a reviewer for manuscripts and proposals I serve as a member of the Publications Committee of the American Association for Aerosol Research.

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PhD Atmospheric Science North Carolina State University 2015

MS Atmospheric Science North Carolina State University 2011

BS Physics North Carolina State University 2008

Area(s) of Expertise

Sometimes the smallest particles can have the biggest impact. Submicron aerosols in the atmosphere 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 chemistry community. I study chemical reactions occurring in aerosols and droplets and the dynamic exchange of material between aerosol and gas phases, touching on various themes in climate, atmospheric science, air quality, environmental health, chemistry, physics, and engineering.