Nerd Nite San Diego #44

Tuesday October 6th 2020 at 7pm on Zoom

Are you ready to dismantle and redefine the image of “the scientist” with us? And how about some atmospheric particle chemistry to fuel questions about the air we breathe and viruses we transmit? Don’t miss out this October 6 at 7pm, Nerd Nite SD! Come drinking while thinking with us.

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Prof. Ryan Sullivan, Ph.D

Associate Professor in the Departments of Chemistry and Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University

How do Wildfires Make Ice, Reactive Salts, and Synthetic Toxics?

The West Coast is now perma-fraked with large annual wildfires thanks to human-induced climate change. Wildfires are scary, destroy homes, kill people and animals, and expose us to dangerously high levels of toxic air pollution and particulate matter. They emit pollutants that you don’t hear much about – but you will, if you come to this talk! When homes begin to burn, toxic chemicals from synthetic materials are released, including flame retardants that are intended to prevent things from burning in the first place. We will learn how to make frozen clouds from fire, and emit reactive chloride salts that drive atmospheric chemistry and produce even more photochemical smog. Let’s pause and talk about the serious impact wildfire have on the air we and our loved ones breathe, and think about the toxic chemicals we bring into our homes, like in furniture and gadgets. I’ll showcase some new techniques my lab has developed to study the chemistry of aerosol particles using laser traps (optical tweezers) and microfluidics. Are you ready to learn about environmental chemistry and what truly hides in the air we breathe?

Bio: Sullivan is an Associate Professor with a joint appointment in the Departments of Chemistry and Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, and a courtesy appointment in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in environmental chemistry from the University of Toronto, and his doctorate in chemistry from the University of California, San Diego. He then completed postdoctoral research in atmospheric chemistry at Colorado State University. In the Center for Atmospheric Particle Studies his research explores the chemical transformations of environmental pollutants and their resultant effects on environmental systems, with a focus on the role aerosol particles play in catalyzing key processes that alter the atmosphere and climate. His group develops real-time techniques that enable experimental studies on individual complex particles to explore how they evolve in and affect the atmosphere.These include laser ablation single-particle mass spectrometry, aerosol optical tweezers, and microfluidic devices for ice nucleation research. The emission of chemical toxic contaminants from combustion and wildfires, the multi-phase chemical evolution of these complex emissions, and their impacts on humans and the environment is a major current focus. As part of the Institute for Green Science he is developing advanced water purification and disinfection technologies for micropollutant removal based around NewTAML catalytic activators of hydrogen peroxide. Ryan is the recipient of a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation, and the Environmental Award from the Carnegie Science Center.

Dr. Jeanette McConnell, Ph.D

Director of Education, Outreach and Diversity, Center for Impact of Aerosols on Chemistry of the Environment, UCSD

Inciting Revolution: down with “the scientist” 

I think we can all agree that the image of the disheveled old white man in a lab coat as “the scientist” has run its course. We’re done with that. We’re ready for Einstein’s famous pictures to be replaced with pictures of the incredible Katherine Johnson. It’s necessary and it’s time. Now, although this change is long overdue, it is not revolutionary. I’m here for revolution. I’m here to dismantle and completely redefine “the scientist”. I’m here to rock the boat and I’ve got some thoughts. Let’s have a chat. 

Bio: Jeanette is a human, a daughter, a sister, a spouse, a goalkeeper and a cat guardian. She likes to ask too many questions and that led her into science. She’s a champion for fun STEM education because asking questions and investigating the universe should be joyful. She’s an advocate for our environment because as a human she feels responsible for taking care of this planet. Right now she works as the Director of Education, Outreach and Diversity at an NSF funded research center at UC San Diego and lives in an apartment in La Mesa with her spouse, two cats, and many plants.