CONWAY, Ark. (May 2, 2018) –
A Hendrix chemistry professor and alumna of the College has received a $550,000
grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to further develop atmospheric
chemistry research at Hendrix.
Dr. Courtney Hatch ’00, associate
professor of chemistry at Hendrix and chair of the Environmental Studies
Program, submitted a funding request for “RUI: Bulk water adsorption and
aerosol cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) activation of insoluble aerosol: Toward
experimental closure and accurate model parameters.” The reviewers with the NSF
found the proposal to be “a very strong and compelling research project” and
recommended it for full funding of the amount requested in Hatch’s grant
application, with work to begin this summer.
The funded work aims to
study of the effect of particles in the atmosphere on climate, an area of
research that seeks to learn to what degree the formation of clouds may offset
the warming effect of greenhouse gases. Hatch says gaining more information
about how natural aerosols take up water and grow to become cloud droplets can
inform possible courses of action concerning climate change, improve the
accuracy of current climate models, and enhance the fundamental understanding
of surface chemistry on atmospheric particles.
“Scientists have a really
high level of understanding of how greenhouse gases have a warming effect,” she
said. “But aerosols have a cooling effect, and what we really don’t know much
about is how short-lived aerosols influence climate. It’s important because if
we want to be able to make accurate predictions, we need to know what affects
the warming and the cooling of the atmosphere.”
The NSF grant will include
funding for four new instruments for the Chemistry Department, including a
cloud condensation nuclei counter for use in measuring particle growth under
supersaturated water vapor conditions. Other equipment to be purchased through
the grant will increase capabilities for measuring particle size, density,
porosity, and surface area.
The grant also will fund
undergraduate summer research and support travel for students to explore
careers in the geosciences, further extending an opportunity that began with
funding from Hatch’s three-year Morris and Ann Henry Odyssey Professorship, which
she received in 2013.
Hatch noted that several
current and former students made substantial contributions toward securing this
NSF funding through their undergraduate research, including Morgan Conine ’11,
Annie Greenaway ’12, Josh Harris ’12, Gracie Kloss ’12, Matthew Christie ’15,
Rebecca Meredith ’15, Abby Gatmaitan ’17, Ryan Tumminello ’18, Megan Cassingham
’19, and Henry Dana ’19.
“We’re trying to bridge the
gap between experiment and theory, to have more accurate measurements of cloud
activation and climate predictions. We need to know, are our theories agreeing
with our experiment?” she said. “This work will facilitate answering this
question while providing hands-on experience for undergraduates in the
A private liberal arts
college in Conway, Arkansas, Hendrix College consistently earns recognition as
one of the country’s leading liberal arts institutions, and is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That
Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges. Its academic quality and
rigor, innovation, and value have established Hendrix as a fixture in numerous
college guides, lists, and rankings. Founded in 1876, Hendrix has been
affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. To learn more, visit www.hendrix.edu.