People

Kevin R. Wilson

Principal Investigator

Contact Information

After receiving a B.A. in Chemistry from Willamette University in 1993, Wilson took a research assistant position at Los Alamos National Laboratory where he studied the chemistry of polar stratospheric ice clouds using nonlinear optics. During this time, he also received a M.A. degree in Liberal Arts from St. John’s College in Santa Fe, NM. He then earned a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry in 2003 from the University of California, Berkeley. His doctoral work focused on probing liquid surfaces using synchrotron radiation at the Advanced Light Source (ALS), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). In 2003 he received a Fredrick Reines Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellowship from Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he began developing novel instrumentation for the sensitive detection of atmospheric particles. In 2004 he returned to LBNL as a limited term scientist at the Chemical Dynamics Beamline (ALS). Currently, he is a senior scientist and the Deputy Director of the Chemical Sciences Division at LBNL. In 2012 Wilson won an Early Career Award from the Office of Science (DOE), enabling his research group to focus on understanding the fundamental reaction mechanisms of organic molecules at liquid water interfaces. Wilson’s other research interests include soot formation chemistry, low temperature gas phase reactions in planetary atmospheres and the heterogeneous atmospheric chemistry of organic aerosols.
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Current Research Group

Research Group (2019): (left to right) Alex Prophet, Grazia Rovelli, Becky Rapf, Meirong Zheng, Michael Jacobs (now at University of Illinois) , Kevin, Christin Buecher, Megan Willis and Liron Cohen. (not pictured Ryan Reynolds)

Dr. Megan Willis

Postdoctoral Fellow

I completed my PhD at the University of Toronto, in the Abbatt group, where I participated in field campaigns to study aerosol chemistry in urban, industrial and remote Northern regions of the Canadian Arctic. As part of the NETCARE project, I used airborne aerosol mass spectrometry to understand the influence of increasing open water area and long-range pollution transport on Arctic aerosol chemistry and chemistry-climate interactions. My postdoctoral research in the Wilson group focuses on developing single droplet mass spectrometry techniques coupled to levitated microdroplet arrays. We apply these analytical techniques to study the multiphase and interfacial chemistry of droplets undergoing heterogeneous oxidation. In January 2021, I am joining the Department of Chemistry at Colorado State University. My research group will combine field experiments, instrument development and laboratory studies of atmospheric physical chemistry to study aerosol formation and the coupled ocean-atmosphere-cryosphere system.
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Dr. Meirong Zeng

Postdoctoral Fellow

I completed my PhD work in Prof. Fei Qi's group at the University of Science and Technology of China in 2017. My research topics concern experimental and modelling investigations on the combustion chemistry of large alkanes, cycloalkanes and biofuels. Combustion diagnostic tools combined with different reactors were used in experiments, such as the synchrotron VUV molecular beam mass spectrometry at the National Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory. I also developed chemical kinetic models to explain experimental results.
My current research as a postdoctoral fellow is focused on the experimental and kinetic modelling studies on the heterogeneous oxidation reactions of organic particles and OH radical. Experimental investigations on the heterogeneous reactions were conducted in a continuous flow stirred tank reactor combined with synchrotron VUV aerosol mass spectrometry at ALS, GC and SMPS. I will also develop the kinetic mechanism of the heterogeneous oxidation process of particles based on Kinetiscope software.
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Dr. Grazia Rovelli

Postdoctoral Fellow

I am a physical chemist and my research focus is on the dynamics and the reactivity of aerosols at a single-droplet level in the laboratory, with the aim of understanding at a fundamental level the complex processes involving aerosol particles in the atmosphere and in industrial applications.
I got my PhD from the University of Milano Bicocca (Italy, Prof. Ezio Bolzacchini) in 2016 with a thesis on the development and application of techniques for the characterization of the hygroscopic properties of aerosols, applied to both laboratory simple systems in an electrodynamic balance and to sampled ambient aerosols. During a two-years postdoc at the University of Bristol (UK, Prof. Jonathan Reid), I was interested in characterizing the microphysical properties of single Secondary Organic Aerosol (SOA) particles and I studied their volatility, optical properties, hygroscopicity and viscosity as a function of variable volatile organic precursors and formation conditions (with collaborators at the University of York and the University of Manchester).
During my postdoc with the Wilson Research Group, I want to use guided droplets collisions experiments in a branched quadruple electrodynamic trap in order to investigate the possible factors that may cause the enhancement of reaction kinetics within liquid and viscous aerosol droplets.
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Dr. Becky Rapf

Postdoctoral Fellow

I am a physical chemist interested in using fundamental laboratory studies to inform and contribute to a wide range of applied fields, including atmospheric chemistry, planetary science, biophysics, and astrobiology. I completed my PhD in 2017 at the University of Colorado Boulder under the supervision of Prof. Veronica Vaida. My thesis work focused primarily on detailed mechanistic studies of the photochemistry of organic species in the aqueous phase under conditions relevant to both the modern and early Earth using mass spectrometry. I also characterized the surface activity and aggregation behavior of simple lipids and their photochemical products using a number of analytical techniques, including Langmuir troughs, dynamic light scattering, and optical microscopy. As a post-doc in the Wilson group, I am moving from the bulk phase to droplets. I explore the kinetics of condensed-phase reactions using both single-particle and colliding-droplet microreactors.
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Dr. Christin Buechner

Postdoctoral Fellow

I am a physical chemist focused on understanding functional materials at the atomic level. I did my PhD in Berlin at the Fritz-Haber-Institute, where I studied 2D silica glass with high-resolution microscopy. In my PhD work, I described the amorphous network structures in glass using real-space data, and studied the chemical properties and stability of the 2D silica.
Supported by a fellowship from the Humboldt Foundation, I have joined LBL to study the solid/liquid interface of membranes using ambient pressure X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, allowing us to understand the fundamental mechanisms of water diffusion, ion transport and surface adhesion. A better view of these processes in membrane systems will help us design better materials for separation challenges, such as desalination of seawater.
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Ryan Reynolds

Graduate Student

I am a graduate student in physical chemistry at UC Berkeley interested in the kinetics of heterogeneous oxidation, especially in sub-micron organic particles with restricted diffusion of reactants. I completed my Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry with a minor in Mathematics at Biola University, where I studied the coupled oxidation and photochemistry of thin films of pesticides using ATR-FTIR spectroscopy. In the Wilson group, my research will include both experimental study of the oxidation of organic particles with VUV aerosol mass spectrometry and computer simulation of oxidation kinetics with Kinetiscope software, to understand how the mechanisms of oxidation change under varying conditions.

Liron Cohen

Graduate Student

I am a physical chemistry graduate student at UC Berkeley interested in probing the surface of aerosols to track chemical changes and pathways in environmentally relevant conditions. I have recently completed my Bachelor’s degree in chemistry at the University of Toronto working with Jamie Donaldson on coupling acoustic levitation and UV-Vis absorbance to measure the pH in-situ of ~1mm droplets. In the Wilson group, I will continue working on single-droplet systems using different trapping methods and spectroscopic techniques. I will examine the chemical make-up of droplets as they undergo reactions to gain fundamental insight into the processes governing heterogeneous reactions.

Alex Prophet

Graduate Student

I am currently a graduate student at UC Berkeley studying physical chemistry, having recently completed a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and mathematics at St. Olaf College in 2018. My research interests include the study of chemical reactions occurring at the liquid-air interface, and the behavior, composition, and reactivity of atmospheric aerosols. I would like to address these interests by using a combination of surface and bulk sensitive techniques such as X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and Raman spectroscopy. In addition, the use of simulation and theoretical descriptions of interfacial dynamics will be critical in describing how observations of surface phenomena can be interpreted on both molecular and macroscopic scales.