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Sarah Styler

Assistant Professor



About Me

My path to the University of Alberta has been winding: although I obtained my BSc (2004), MSc (2008), and PhD (2014) at the University of Toronto, I’ve also made stops in London, Lyon, and Leipzig.

I performed my MSc and PhD work under the supervision of Prof. D. James Donaldson. My MSc research focused on photooxidative reactions occurring on ‘urban film’, the complex mixture of chemicals that coats surfaces in urban environments. During my PhD, I studied the interaction of desert dust with organic pollutants, and focused on the role that dust plays in promoting photochemical reactions in the atmosphere.

In 2013, I began postdoctoral work at the Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research in the laboratory of Prof. Dr. Hartmut Herrmann. In Leipzig, I used a combination of field sampling and laboratory experiments to gain insight into the role that urban surfaces play in mediating urban air quality and the atmospheric lifetime of of photochemically active pollutants.

Here at U of A, where I’m currently an Assistant Professor of Environmental Chemistry, my research program focuses on chemistry and photochemistry in atmospheric aerosol populations typical of those found in polluted urban and industrially influenced environments.


The composition of airborne particulate matter in Asian and African megacities is influenced by a complex range of factors, including residential coal/refuse burning, emissions from “dirty” vehicles, and desert dust incursions. Closer to home, metal-rich aerosols are also present in the Athabasca oil sands region and in areas influenced by industrial and mining activities.

Research in the Styler Group focuses on chemistry and photochemistry occurring in these metal- and soot-rich aerosol populations, with the ultimate goal of improving our understanding of urban air quality in developing regions. Graduate students in the group will have the opportunity to participate in local and international aerosol sampling campaigns, gain experience with instrument design and construction, and use a wide variety of gas- and particle-phase analytical techniques.

If you’ve been admitted to U of A’s graduate chemistry program (or are thinking about applying!), and are interested in applying your knowledge of chemistry to improve our understanding of atmospheric processes, email Dr. Styler to discuss potential projects and opportunities.

There are also opportunities in the Styler Group for enthusiastic undergraduate students as part of CHEM 299 and CHEM 401/403. If you’re enrolled in these courses (or are thinking about enrolling in these courses!) and have an interest in analytical, organic, and/or environmental chemistry, email Dr. Styler to discuss projects that fit with your interests and strengths.