Jake Laas

Graduate Student

Emory University

Office: 131 Atwood Hall

1515 Dickey Drive

Atlanta, GA 30322-2210

phone: 404-727-6573

fax: 404-727-6586

jlaas@emory.edu


Educational Background

B.S. in Chemistry from Pittsburg State University (2008)
Ph.D. in Chemistry from Emory University (2014)

Current Research

My research interest is reaction dynamics of complex interstellar chemistry. The methods I employ include astrochemical modeling, laboratory gas-phase spectroscopy, and astronomical observation.

The astrochemical modeling is based on the OSU gas/grain chemical network. The goal is to improve our fundamental understanding of astrochemical systems across diverse physical environments. My first project involved testing the effects of methanol UV photolysis on the interstellar complex chemistry of hot cores, which confirmed to us that further laboratory studies are needed to improve the predictive power of the models. I've also used the gas/grain model to test a novel gas-phase formation route for methyl formate. Ongoing work includes incorporating the gas/grain chemical network with alternative physical models such as cirumstellar disks in preparation for interpretatio of ALMA observations.

In the laboratory, I am primarily focused on UV photodissociation. Chemical modeling has shown that the UV photodissociation branching ratios of methanol can have strong effects on the relative abundances of complex organics in molecular clouds, however the actual branching ratios have never been quantitatively measured. A home-built direct absorption gas-phase mm/submm spectrometer has been benchmarked for detection of methanol plasma discharge products and we are now working on detection of UV-induced dissociation products. This spectrometer promises to be a powerful tool for probing dissociation dynamics due to its precise structure-specificity and quantitative capability.

Lastly, I am heavily involved with observational astronomy so as to obtain observational data for comparison to chemical models. I have spent a total of over 8 weeks at the summit of Mauna Kea and also ~1 week of remote experience using the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory (CSO) to acquire unbiased double-sideband line surveys at ~1.3 mm. We have also acquired a number of line surveys using the high-resolution HIFI spectrometer aboard the Herschel Space Observatory. The analysis of these surveys is ongoing while comparisons are made of the chemistry across a variety of interstellar star-forming regions.


Refereed Publications

  • Laas J. C., Hays B. M., & Widicus Weaver S. L., "Multipass Millimeter/Submillimeter Spectrometer to Probe Dissociative Reaction Dynamics." J. Phys. Chem. A, 117, 9548–9554, (2013). (View Paper)
  • Laas J. C., Garrod R. T., Herbst E., & Widicus Weaver S. L., "Contributions from grain surface and gas phase chemistry to the formation of methyl formate and its structural isomers." Astrophys. J., 728 71 (9pp), 2011. (View Paper, Journal Link)

Conference Proceedings

  • Widicus Weaver S. L., Garrod R. T., Laas J. C., & Herbst E., "Models of Hot Cores with Complex Molecules." Proc. of: The Molecular Universe: Intl. Astronomical Union Symp. 280, 2011.
  • Laas J. C., Widicus Weaver S. L., Garrod R. T., & Herbst E., "Methanol photodissociation and its effect on complex chemistry in the interstellar medium." Proc. of the 2010 NASA Laboratory Astrophysics Workshop, 2011.

Talks

  • "Methanol Photodissociation using Millimeter and Submillimeter Spectroscopy," Jacob C. Laas and Susanna L. Widicus Weaver. Gordon Research Seminar, Radiation Chemistry 2012, Andover, NH, July 29, 2012
  • "Methanol Photodissociation using Millimeter and Submillimeter Spectroscopy," Jacob C. Laas and Susanna L. Widicus Weaver. 67th Ohio State International Symposium on Molecular Spectroscopy, Columbus, OH, June 21, 2012
  • "Laboratory submillimeter spectroscopy as a probe of methanol photodissociation," Jacob C. Laas and Susanna L. Widicus Weaver. 66th Ohio State International Symposium on Molecular Spectroscopy, Columbus, OH, June 22, 2011
  • "Methanol photodissociation branching ratios and their influence on interstellar organic chemistry," Jacob C. Laas, Susanna L. Widicus Weaver, Robin T. Garrod. 65th Ohio State International Symposium on Molecular Spectroscopy, Columbus, OH, June 24, 2010

Poster Presentations

  • Laas J. C., Widicus Weaver S. L. "Millimeter/Submillimeter Spectroscopy as a Probe of Methanol Photodissociation." Molecular Spectroscopy in the Era of Far-IR Astronomy, SELAC Workshop 2012, Atlanta, GA, October 28 - 31, 2012. (View Poster)
  • Laas J. C., Garrod R. T., Herbst E., Widicus Weaver S. L. "Methanol Photodissociation as a Case Study for Probing Prebiotic Interstellar Chemistry." Gordon Research Seminar, Radiation Chemistry 2012, Andover, NH, July 29 - August 3, 2012. (View Poster)
  • Laas J. C., Garrod R. T., Herbst E., Widicus Weaver S. L. "Methanol Photodissociation as a Case Study for Probing Prebiotic Interstellar Chemistry." Astrobiology Science Conference 2012, Atlanta, GA, April 16, 2012. (View Poster)
  • Laas J. C., Garrod R. T., Herbst E., Widicus Weaver S. L. "Methanol Photodissociation and its Effects on Complex Chemistry in the ISM." IAU Symposium No. 280: The Molecular Universe, Toledo, Spain, June 2, 2011. (View Poster)
  • Laas J. C., Garrod R. T., Herbst E., Widicus Weaver S. L. "Methanol photodissociation and its effects on complex chemistry in the ISM." Spectroscopy 2011, ALMA: Extending the Limits of Astrophysical Spectroscopy, Victoria, B.C., January 15-17, 2011. (View Poster)
  • Laas J. C., Garrod R. T., Herbst E., Widicus Weaver S. L. "Methanol photodissociation and its effects on complex chemistry in the ISM." The 2010 NASA Laboratory Astrophysics Workshop, Gatlinburg, TN, October 25-28, 2010. (View Poster)
  • Laas J. C., Widicus Weaver S. L., Garrod R. T., "Methanol photodissociation and its effects on complex chemistry in the ISM." Dust and Ice: Their Roles in Astrophysical Environments, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, March 30-April 1, 2010. (View Poster)
  • Laas J. C., Widicus Weaver S. L., Garrod R. T., "Methanol photodissociation and its effects on complex chemistry in the ISM." ACS Spring 2010 National Meeting and Exposition, San Francisco, CA, March 21-25, 2010. (View Poster)
  • Laas Jacob C., Radhuber Mary L., Garrod Robin T., Widicus Weaver S. L. "Methanol Photodissociation and its Role in the Complex Chemistry of the Interstellar Medium" 2009 Center for Chemistry in the Universe, Green Bank, WV, May 26-29, 2009. (View Poster)

Contributed Presentations

  • "Unraveling the mysteries of complex interstellar organic chemistry using Observational Spectral Line Surveys (talk)," Susanna L. Widicus Weaver, Mary L. Radhuber, Shiya Wang, James Sanders, Jay A. Kroll, Jacob C. Laas, Darek Lis, and Eric Herbst. Astrobiology Science Conference 2012, Atlanta, GA, April 20, 2012.
  • James Sanders, Mary L. Radhuber, Jacob C. Laas, Jay A. Kroll, and Susanna L. Widicus Weaver. "Submillimeter Line Surveys of Young Stellar Objects Using the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory (poster)." Astrobiology Science Conference 2012, Atlanta, GA, April 19, 2012. (View Poster)
  • Steber A. L., Laas J. C., Neill J. L., Muckle M. T., Zaleski D. P., Lattanzi V., Spezzano S., McCarthy M. C., Remijan A. J., Friedel D. N., Widicus Weaver S. L., Garrod R. T., Herbst E., & Pate B. H. "Spatial Distributions and Interstellar Reaction Processes (poster)." Astrobiology Science Conference 2012, Atlanta, GA, April 19, 2012.
  • "Unraveling the mysteries of complex interstellar organic chemistry using HIFI line surveys (talk)," Susanna L. Widicus Weaver, Mary L. Radhuber, Jay A. Kroll, Brett A. McGuire, Jacob C. Laas, Dariusz C. (Darek) Lis, and Eric Herbst. 66th Ohio State International Symposium on Molecular Spectroscopy, Columbus, OH, 2011
  • "New THz Tools for Laboratory Astrochemistry (talk)," Susanna L. Widicus Weaver, P. Brandon Caroll, Brett A. McGuire, Jacob C. Laas, Jay A. Kroll, and Mary L. Radhuber. Workshop Astrochemistry: Molecular Networks Connecting the Universe, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 2011
  • Radhuber Mary L., Kroll Jay A., Laas Jacob C., Anderson Thomas A., Sumner Matthew C., Rice Frank, Zmuidzinas Jonas, Blake Geoffrey A., Widicus Weaver S. L. "Submillimeter Spectral Line Survey of Orion (poster)." 2009 Center for Chemistry in the Universe, Green Bank, WV, May 26-29, 2009. (View Poster)
  • Radhuber Mary L., Kroll Jay A., Laas Jacob C., Anderson Thomas A., Sumner Matthew C., Rice Frank, Zmuidzinas Jonas, Blake Geoffry A., Widicus Weaver Susanna L. "A Submillimeter Spectral Line Survey of Orion (poster)." Scholarly Inquiry and Research and Emory Fall Undergraduate Research Symposium,Emory University, 2009. (View Poster)

Awards and Honors

  • Quayle Chemistry Research Fellowship, Emory University, 2011
  • Oustanding TA Award (Physical Chemistry Lab), Emory University, 2011
  • Young Researcher Travel Grant, Intl. Astronomical Union Symp. 280, 2011