Ambient Measurements of Local NJ Brush Fire Show Increased Particle Concentrations

McNeill Group students took some ambient aerosol measurements yesterday morning, to observe any effects that the brush fire in Wheaton State Forest had on outside particle concentrations.

Our data show a nearly eight-fold increase of ambient aerosols earlier in the morning compared to the afternoon, indicating observed particles from the fire that decreased over the course of the day, as the fire was contained and emitted particles were allowed to dissipate.

Figure01-040714Between the morning and afternoon, a shift in the ambient aerosol particle size distribution was also observed. Larger particles were observed in the morning, contributing the bulk of the observed mass and leading to decreased visibility in the area due to scattering of light.


Brush Fire in NJ leads to Decreased Visibility in NYC


Photo credit: WNBC.

On late Sunday, April 6th, a brush fire broke out roughly 90 miles south of New York City, burning approximately 30 acres of Wharton State Forest, the largest state forest in New Jersey.

The resultant particulate matter released into the atmosphere had extremely high measured values around the Tri-state area compared to data from the previous day, resulting in decreased visibility and a noticeable scent of burning matter.

SAS Data Workshop @NCAR

VFM is attending the Southeast Atmosphere Study (SAS) data workshop at NCAR in Boulder, CO this week.  SAS was a group of coordinated field and laboratory studies that took place in Summer and Fall 2013, involving hundreds of atmospheric chemists.  She presented a poster on the McNeill group models of coupled gas-aqueous aerosol chemistry, GAMMA and simpleGAMMA.  The McNeill Group will collaborate with SAS scientists to use these models to determine the contribution of aqueous aerosol and cloudwater chemistry to aerosol loadings during SAS, and identify unknown reaction pathways. campaign wrap-up

Well, friends, the crowdfunding campaign for our oil spill cleanup project is over, and we didn’t meet our funding goal. We want to thank you once again for all your support, although, following the “all or nothing” model of, we won’t receive any funding for our project at this time. However, here are some great things we DID gain from this experience:

- Several student volunteers eager to get involved in research and excited about working on the project

- In-kind donations of equipment from colleagues

- Promising leads on new potential funding sources for this project

- Technical suggestions from experts

- New ideas for outreach and ways to communicate our research ideas to the public, especially those most directly affected by the environmental problems our work addresses

We’re still passionate about this project and we’ll continue to pursue this idea. Keep updated on this and our other research projects here on our website, and by following us on Twitter (@vfmcneill and @McNeillGroup)

Much love,

Faye, Mark, and Christina

LAST DAY of #crowdfunding campaign for #oilspill cleanup research!

We’re working on a safer, more economical approach to oilspill cleanup. Last day to support our research project on!

Can naturally occurring, soap-like materials be used for oil spill response? is a crowdfunding platform designed to support independent, innovative science.

Follow the link to learn more about the project and support this research effort!



Thanks for participating in the VFM AMA!

Many thanks to those of you who participated in Prof. McNeill’s question and answer session on Reddit on Monday!  Lots of great topics came up including work-life balance, staying inspired in engineering studies, “natural” surfactants, sippy cup science, and more.  In case you missed it, you can still see the discussion here:   If you have more questions for Prof. McNeill, feel free to email her directly.

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Ask VFM anything! Monday March 10, 12-3PM EDT

Prof. McNeill will be doing an “AMA” forum on reddit on Monday 3/10.

Look for the thread at: starting at noon EDT on Monday. It will look like: “I am a young, tenured, female engineering professor at a major research university. Ask me anything!”

She will be there to answer questions about her experiences as a woman in STEM, our research, our crowdfunding project on, and almost anything else! Please join in!

#womeninSTEM #reddit #crowdfunding #womeninscience #engineering #STEMcareers