Study level


Vacation research experience scheme


Science and Engineering Faculty

School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Professor Stephen Blanksby
Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research Infrastructure)/Principal Research Fellow (Mass Spectrometry)
Division / Faculty
Division of Research and Innovation
Dr Branka Miljevic
Senior Lecturer
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty


Australian bushfires and prescribed biomass burning (BB) have a significant impact on both human health as well as global and regional climate.

While emissions from traditional sources, such as vehicles and power plants are expected to decline due to more stringent regulations, air pollution from BB smoke is expected to continue growing.

The impact of BB smoke particulate matter on human health will depend on their chemical and physical properties. However, that information for smoke from Australian ecosystems is very limited.

The aim of this project is to investigate chemical composition of BB smoke particles using Electrospray-Orbitrap mass spectrometry (ESI-Orbitrap MS).

Research activities

This project will involve:

  • collecting filter samples of “bushfire smoke” particles generated by burning eucalypt leaves and branches
  • extracting them in methanol
  • analysing their chemical composition using ESI-Orbitrap MS.

Prior to that, optimal conditions of ESI-Orbitrap MS will need to be determined.

As this is a complex mixture with a lot of different organic compounds, a significant amount of time will need to be spent on data analysis (i.e. interpreting mass spectra).


This project will provide new insights into complex chemical composition of BB smoke coming from some typical Australian vegetation.

Skills and experience

This project is suitable for you as a chemistry student with a special interest in analytical chemistry.



Contact the supervisor for more information.