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Kent State Atmospheric Research Group Awarded $330,000 NSF Grant

Posted Aug. 12, 2013
enter photo description
The National Science Foundation (NSF)
has awarded a three-year, $330,000
National Science Foundation grant to
Kent State University’s Atmospheric
Research Group. The project will be
led by Shanhu Lee, Ph.D., associate
professor of environmental health
sciences in Kent State’s College of
Public Health.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a three-year, $330,000 National Science Foundation grant to Kent State University’s Atmospheric Research Group for its project titled “Measurements of Amines during the Southern Oxidant and Aerosol Study (SOAS) Field Campaign.” The project will be led by Shanhu Lee, Ph.D., associate professor of environmental health sciences in Kent State’s College of Public Health.

Lee’s research is a component of the broad community experiment, SOAS, designed to further investigate the oxidation of the emissions (biogenic volatile organic compounds or BVOCs) of plants in the context of the atmospheric environment of the Southeast United States. That project is part of a bigger collaboration, the Southeast Atmosphere Study (SAS). Their field campaign is taking place this summer in Brent, Ala. There are two research aircrafts taking measurements along with ground-based measurements. Lee’s group is one of about 30 research groups that are doing ground-based measurements.

SOAS is one of the largest atmospheric field studies taking place in the United States. The campaign is co-sponsored by the NSF, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

“The purpose of this campaign is to understand the chemical and physical mechanisms related to air pollution and climate change,” Lee says. “The Southern United States has abundant biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs) emitted from trees and various anthropogenic air pollutants from industries. Under strong sun conditions, these BVOCs and sulfur and nitrogen oxidants emitted from power plants and automobiles together produce high concentrations of ozone and particular matters, both of which affect human health and air quality.”

The project will investigate the effects of organic amines on secondary organic aerosol (SOA) formation processes. Amines, along with ammonia, are the dominant organic base compounds in the atmosphere. They are invariably present in aerosol particles and may contribute to SOA formation through condensation of their oxidation products or by the formation of salts with more acidic aerosol particles.

“Amines and their oxidation products may have adverse health effects and directly impact air quality, and visibility,” Lee says. “At present, measurements of gas-phase amines, especially in biogenic environments in the southeastern United States, are lacking.”

Lee’s research group recently developed a unique chemical ionization mass spectrometry technique to detect very low concentrations of atmospheric trace amines with fast time response. “We are one of only three research groups in the world that have such capabilities,” Lee says.

For more information about Lee’s research group, visit www.personal.kent.edu/~slee19/index.htm.

For more information about the Southeast Atmosphere Study, visit www.eol.ucar.edu/projects/sas/.

For more information about Kent State’s College of Public Health, visit www.kent.edu/publichealth.