Chemistry and earth science come together in new study

Posted on Monday, November 23rd, 2015

Joshua Sebree, assistant professor, chemistry and biochemistry, 319-273-2437,

Xinhua Shen, assistant professor, earth science, 319-273-2536,

Alexa Sedlacek, assistant professor, earth science, 319-273-3072,

Lindsay Cunningham, Office of University Relations, 319-273-6728,

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- Joshua Sebree, a former chemist for NASA and current UNI assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and two additional UNI professors, Xinhua Shen and Alexa Sedlacek, were awarded a three-year grant in spring 2015 from the Iowa Space Grant Consortium to conduct a three-part study. The study brings together the departments of chemistry and earth science along with several collaborators from NASA to work with students on a broad study over aerosol particles in atmospheres.

"We hope to gain a better understanding of how Earth's atmosphere and life have affected each other over geological periods of time," said Sebree.

Sebree is conducting research on early Earth's aerosols. Sedlacek is collecting and grinding rocks to see what the early Earth's composition says about the early Earth's atmosphere. Shen is studying modern-day aerosols in the Earth's atmosphere.

A team of students will be able to participate in the study as well. "They will be helping in a variety of aspects, from creating primordial aerosols, to collecting and cleaning rocks and fossils, to setting up fog collectors," said Sebree. "Many of the students will be presenting at meetings and traveling out to NASA to help with data analysis and additional sample processing." 

For more information on the study and research, visit or contact Sebree at 319-273-2437 or