Sara Lance

Laboratory and field studies to investigate aerosol-cloud interactions relevant for climate, visibility and human health

The World Within Reach
Sara Lance
Research Associate

College of Arts and Sciences
Department: Atmospheric Sciences Research Center

518-437 8663
518-437-8758 (FAX)



Learn more on the Lance Research website.


2007, Ph.D., Atmospheric Science, Georgia Institute of Technology
2002, B.S.E., Chemical Engineering, Arizona State University

Previous Work Experience

  • Research Scientist in Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS) at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Aug 2015 - Aug 2016
  • Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) Affiliate Researcher at the University of Colorado (CU-Boulder), Jul 2014 - Jul 2015
  • Research Scientist at SPEC, Inc., May 2012 - Feb 2015
  • CIRES Research Scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Jan 2010 - May 2012
  • Postdoctoral Fellow at NOAA through the National Research Council Research Associates Program, Jan 2008 - Jan 2010
  • Graduate Fellow in the Advanced Studies Program (ASP) at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Jun 2004 - Apr 2007

Funding History

CIRES Innovative Research Program (IRP) grant recipient, CU-Boulder, July 2011 "Contact Freezing on Demand: Measurement of contact nuclei with a novel instrument using single droplets levitated in an optical trap", Read More...

Research Interests

  • Experimental Investigation of the fundamental interactions between Aerosols, Clouds and Precipitation, including:
    –Cloud processing of aerosol (e.g. aqueous formation of secondary organic aerosol)
    –Cloud phase transitions (e.g. resulting from ice nucleation or efflorescence)
  • Chemical properties and mixing-state of cloud condensation nuclei and ice nuclei
  • Instrument development and characterization

Dr. Lance designs and performs laboratory and field studies to investigate aerosol-cloud interactions relevant for climate, visibility and human health. Cloud phase transitions are especially climatically important in the context of aerosol pollution impacts on the radiative properties and longevity of far-reaching low-altitude stratus within the climate sensitive Arctic. Since aerosol particles typically cycle many times through cloud prior to raining out, the physical and chemical processing of aerosol particles by clouds is another important process, both in remote and polluted environments. Formation of secondary organic aerosol within cloud droplets is of particular importance, as oxidation reactions of volatile organic compounds from both anthropogenic and biogenic sources continue to be a major, but poorly understood, driver for aerosol mass loadings and regional haze in an era of greater worldwide controls on sulfur emissions.


Selected Publications

Davis, R. D., S. Lance, J. A. Gordon, S. B. Ushijima, M. A. Tolbert, Contact Efflorescence by soluble heterogeneous nuclei and its implications, submitted to Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci.

Davis, R. D., S. Lance, J. A. Gordon, M. A. Tolbert, A long working-distance optical trap for in situ analysis of contact induced phase transformations of single aerosol particles, Anal. Chem., 87 (12), 6186–6194, doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.5b00809, 2015.

Lance, S., T. E. Raatikainen, T. Onasch, D. Warsnop, X.-Y. Yu, L. Alexander, M. Stolzenberg, P. McMurry, J. N. Smith and A. Nenes. Aerosol mixing-state and cloud activation efficiency during MIRAGE 2006, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 13, 5049-5062, doi:10.5194/acp-13-5049-2013, 2013.

Lance, S., Coincidence Errors in a Cloud Droplet Probe (CDP) and a Cloud and Aerosol Spectrometer (CAS), and the Improved Performance of a Modified CDP, J. Atmos. Oceanic Technol., 29, 1532-1541, doi:10.1175/JTECH-D-11-00208.1, 2012.

Lance, S., M. Shupe, G. Feingold, C.A.Brock, J. Cozic, J. S. Holloway, R. H. Moore, A. Nenes, J. P. Shwartz, J. R. Spackman, K. D. Froyd, D. M. Murphy, J. Brioude, O. R. Cooper, A. Stohl, J. F. Burkhart, H. Sodemann, Cloud condensation nuclei as a modulator of ice processes in Arctic mixed-phase clouds, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 11, 8003-8015, 2011.

Lance, S., C.A. Brock, D. Rogers, and J.A. Gordon, Water droplet calibration of a cloud droplet probe and in-flight performance in liquid, ice and mixed-phase clouds during ARCPAC, Atmos. Meas. Tech., 3, 1683–1706, 2010.

Lance, S., A. Nenes, C. Mazzoleni, M.K. Dubey, H. Gates, V. Varutbangkul, T.A. Rissman, S.M. Murphy, A. Sorooshian, R.C. Flagan, J.H. Seinfeld, G. Feingold, H.H. Jonsson, Cloud condensation nuclei activity, closure, and droplet growth kinetics of Houston aerosol during the Gulf of Mexico Atmospheric Composition and Climate Study (GoMACCS), J. Geophys. Res., 114, D00F15, doi:10.1029/2008JD011699, 2009.

Lance, S., J. Medina, J.N. Smith and A. Nenes. Mapping the Operation of the DMT Continuous Flow CCN Counter, Aerosol Sci. Technol., 40 (4): 242-254, 2006.

Lance, S., T. Rissman and A. Nenes, Chemical and Dynamical Effects on Cloud Droplet Number: Implications for Estimates of the Aerosol Indirect Effect, J. Geophys. Res., 109, D22208, 2004.

Full Publications List