Katarina Yocum

Graduate Student

Emory University

Office: 131 Atwood Hall

1515 Dickey Drive

Atlanta, GA 30322-2210

phone: 404-727-6573

fax: 404-727-6586


Educational Background

Graduate student studying Physical Chemistry at Emory University (Fall 2017 - Present)
B.S. in Chemistry with a Minor in Astronomy from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania (2017)

Current Research

My research is driven by my fascination with the physical and chemical processes of cosmic ices which demonstrate possible pathways to prebiotic molecules. Stars and planetary systems form from cold dense interstellar clouds consisting of gas, ice, and dust. Ices adhered to dust grains begin their lives as simple volatile molecules including H2O, CO, CO2, CH3OH, and NH3. Over time these ices are altered by highly energetic processes from collisions of cosmic rays, gamma rays, UV photons, etc. which cause more complex organic species to evolve. As the star forms, the ice sublimates and gas-phase reactions proceed. Eventually the chemical species which make up the ice will be incorporated into the formation of planets and comets located in the outer parts of the solar system. Comets are then a potential source of delivery for water and complex organics to terrestrial planets which form in closer proximity to the star.

My experiment explores the early stages of these processes by probing gas-phase reactions taking place above an ice via submillimeter spectroscopy. This is a fairly new approach to monitoring thermal and photo- products of a traditional ice-analog experiment. Previous studies have examined ice and gas reactions simultaneously using infrared spectroscopy coupled with mass spectrometry, but never before with gas-phase rotational spectroscopy.