Analytical and environmental chemist Kerri Pratt has been awarded a 2018 Department of Energy (DOE) Early Career Award. The five-year grant provides $750,000 to support her research on Arctic chemistry. “The overarching goal of my project is to improve understanding of atmospheric aerosol processes in the Arctic, particularly during the understudied and rapidly changing winter,” Pratt explains. "For predictions of Arctic atmospheric composition and feedbacks, knowledge of aerosol sources and processes is critical and is a significant current gap in our understanding of Arctic aerosols, which significant impact cloud formation and atmospheric warming."
She will be deploying the lab’s unique single-particle mass spectrometer to the Alaskan Arctic during November and December 2018 to study changing wintertime atmospheric aerosols during the polar night (24 hours of darkness), a period when most people avoid the Arctic! In addition, her group will analyze aerosols collected from an aerosol sampler deployed aboard the German Icebreaker Polarstern. The ship will be frozen into the high Arctic sea ice for an entire year as part of a historic international field campaign called MOSAiC (Multidiscplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate) scheduled for 2019-2020.
Pratt joined the University of Michigan in 2013. She is the Seyhan N. Eğe Assistant Professor of Chemistry. She also has a courtesy appointment in the Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences and is affiliated with the Applied Physics Program and the Program in the Environment. Pratt is one of two assistant professors at the University of Michigan awarded DOE Early Career Awards this year. The other is Benjamin Safdi, assistant professor of physics.
According to the DOE, the early career award program now in its ninth year, is designed to bolster the nation’s scientific workforce by providing support to exceptional researchers during the crucial early career years, when many scientists do their most formative work. This year’s 84 awardees were selected from a large pool of applicants from universities and national laboratories. Selection was based on peer review by outside scientific experts.