Faculty in the News – Tori Barber

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Assistant Professor Victoria “Tori” P. Barber, a physical chemist, has been recognized for her research on germicidal UV light. Her work has been highlighted in a video on Vox.com and an article from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) news.

Barber’s interest in UV light stems from her work as a postdoctoral researcher at MIT. Her recent research, featured in MIT News, delves into the potential drawbacks of using germicidal UV (GUV) lights indoors. While these lights can effectively kill germs like COVID-19, Barber and her colleagues demonstrated that a specific type of UV light, GUV222, may inadvertently produce indoor air pollutants. These pollutants, including ozone, oxidized volatile organic compounds and tiny particles called secondary organic aerosols, could worsen air quality in certain indoor environments.

Barber joined the UCLA faculty as Assistant Professor of chemistry and biochemistry in July 2023.  She conducted her undergraduate studies at Swarthmore College, where she majored in chemistry, with a minor in educational studies. Barber worked for a short time in the emission controls industry as a process development technician, before returning to school to complete her Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania, where she was the Miller fellow in physical chemistry. There, she worked with Professor Marsha Lester, using laser spectroscopy to study the chemistry of atmospheric reactive intermediates. After completing her Ph.D., Barber moved to MIT, where she joined the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering as a postdoctoral researcher. There, she broadened her focus toward a more applied understanding of organic chemistry in the Earth’s atmosphere.

At UCLA, Barber’s team employs various techniques in physical and atmospheric chemistry to understand the mechanisms that govern atmospheric reactions, enabling improved predictions of atmospheric composition, air quality, and climate.

Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, penny@chem.ucla.edu.