Welcome to the Sheesley lab!

In the Sheesley lab, we are interested in understanding local to global impacts of atmospheric particulate matter and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).  Our work on air quality spans several continents, with studies in Texas, California, the Upper Midwest, Scandinavia, China, South Asia and the North American Arctic. Carbonaceous aerosols in the atmosphere are a continually changing complex mixture that interacts with the biosphere, impacts climate change and can have negative effects on human health. In order to understand the potential impacts of carbonaceous aerosols, the chemical composition needs to be investigated; to effectively mitigate the impact, sources of the aerosols need to be defined. This thesis has been the basis of the Sheesley lab’s aerosol studies. We have focused our efforts on refining methods for the analysis of organic tracers, the application of source apportionment models and characterization of sources and transport using carbon isotopes. We also measure and assess the potential impact of VOCs on urban and marine aerosol production. The Sheesley Lab is interested in using these methods to assess the global and local impacts of primary and secondary carbonaceous aerosols on climate change and human health. The integration of aerosol chemical and isotopic composition with VOC analysis into larger biosphere and human health research projects provides distinct advantages for a source-oriented approach to understanding impacts and mitigation strategies.

A recent publication with a group of international researchers has come out in Science Advances which shows the high influence of fossil fuel combustion on black carbon around five circum-Arctic sites.  Sheesley and Tate Barrett (now a post doc at the University of North Texas) used radiocarbon techniques to estimate the contribution of fossil sources to black carbon in the Alaskan Arctic. This is the fifth Arctic paper that the Sheesley group has participated in or led. Look out for more from us in the coming year!

We are also engaged in undergraduate research.  Sheesley is currently working with students from the BTRUE and URSA.

Recent press:


Black carbon emissions are making the Arctic even more vulnerable







ResearchGate:  Rebecca J Sheesley on ResearchGate

Recent publications:

Winiger, P., T. E. Barrett, R. J. Sheesley, L. Huang, S. Sharma, L. A. Barrie, K. E. Yttri, N. Evangeliou, S. Eckhardt, A. Stohl, Z. Klimont, C. Heyes, I. P. Semiletov, O. V. Dudarev, A. Charkin, N. Shakhova, H. Holmstrand, A. Andersson and Ö. Gustafsson (2019). “Source apportionment of circum-Arctic atmospheric black carbon from isotopes and modeling.” Science Advances 5(2): eaau8052.

Al-Naiema, I. M., S. Yoon, Y.-Q. Wang, Y.-X. Zhang, R. J. Sheesley and E. A. Stone (2018). “Source apportionment of fine particulate matter organic carbon in Shenzhen, China by chemical mass balance and radiocarbon methods.” Environmental Pollution 240: 34-43.

Yoon, S., D. Fairley, T. E. Barrett and R. J. Sheesley (2018). “Biomass and fossil fuel combustion contributions to elemental carbon across the San Francisco Bay Area.” Atmospheric Environment 195: 229-242.

Schulze, B. C., H. W. Wallace, A. T. Bui, J. H. Flynn, M. H. Erickson, S. Alvarez, Q. Dai, S. Usenko, R. J. Sheesley and R. J. Griffin (2018). “The impacts of regional shipping emissions on the chemical characteristics of coastal submicron aerosols near Houston, TX.” Atmospheric Chemistry & Physics 18(19).

Gunsch, M. J., Kirpes, R. M., Kolesar, K. R., Barrett, T. E., China, S., Sheesley, R. J., Laskin, A., Wiedensohler, A., Tuch, T. & Pratt, K. A. (2017). Contributions of transported Prudhoe Bay oil field emissions to the aerosol population in Utqiaġvik, Alaska. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 17(17), 10879-10892.

Barrett, T. E., and R. J. Sheesley (2017), Year-round optical properties and source characterization of Arctic organic carbon aerosols on the North Slope Alaska, J. Geophys. Res. Atmos., 122, 9319–9331, doi:10.1002/2016JD026194.

Sheesley, R. J., Nallathamby, P. D., Surratt, J. D., Lee, A., Lewandowski, M., Offenberg, J. H., Jaoui, M., & Kleindienst, T. E. (2017). Constraints on primary and secondary particulate carbon sources using chemical tracer and 14 C methods during CalNex-Bakersfield. Atmospheric Environment, 166, 204-214.

Bikkina, S., Andersson, A., Ram, K., Sarin, M. M., Sheesley, R. J., Kirillova, E. N., Rengarajan, R., Sudheer, A.K. & Gustafsson, Ö. (2017). Carbon isotope‐constrained seasonality of carbonaceous aerosol sources from an urban location (Kanpur) in the Indo‐Gangetic Plain. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 122(9), 4903-4923.

Sinha, P. R., Kondo, Y., Koike, M., Ogren, J. A., Jefferson, A., Barrett, T. E., Sheesley, R. J., Ohata, S., Moteki, N., Coe, H., Liu, D., Irwin, M., Tunved, P., P. K., Zhao, Y. (2017) Evaluation of black carbon measurements in the Arctic. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 122(6), 3544-3572.

Clark, A. E., Yoon, S., Sheesley, R. J., & Usenko, S. (2017). Spatial and Temporal Distributions of Organophosphate Ester Concentrations from Atmospheric Particulate Matter Samples Collected across Houston, TX. Environmental Science & Technology, 51(8), 4239-4247.

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