A Romanian researcher in NIES - Tsukuba
Iulia Patroescu-Klotz

My name is Iulia Patroescu-Klotz. I was born in Romania, in autumn, 36 years ago. Shortly thereafter my parents, assistant lecturers in the University of Bucharest, had the opportunity to teach in Africa. They left me in the care of my grandparents, in a small town. Everybody knew everybody and a newcomer was eyed by the elders and children with curiosity and suspicion and - if he seemed worth to - with an encouraging smile.
This also happened to me in Tsukuba sometimes.

I never dreamed of leaving my country for a period longer than a two week holiday. But in 1991 I applied for a grant of the "German Academic Exchange Office - DAAD". And so I left behind a career which started by working consecutively in a heavy water and a pharmaceutics plant and teaching - all in the field of analytical chemistry - for living in Wuppertal, Germany, and studying atmospheric chemistry.
What it seems I'll never be able to change is working with SULFUR! The study of sulfur compounds allowed me to obtain a Diploma in analytical chemistry, a Master degree in organic chemistry and a Ph.D. degree in atmospheric chemistry. Even my work in industry included analysis of sulfur compounds!

The turn to atmospheric chemistry was not an easy task. Due to the support of the head of the Physical Chemistry Department - University of Wuppertal, Professor Karl-Heinz Becker and the excellent work environment in the research group I overcame the difficulties. My research subject there was photochemical oxidation of dimethyl sulfide (CH3SCH3, DMS) in the gas phase, which is to be developed further during my Eco Frontier Fellow research stage at NIES, in Tsukuba.
One of my former colleagues - Niko Mihalopoulos, a Greek scientist - described DMS as "the perfume of the sea which is dimethyl sulfide".
DMS is emitted mainly by sea microorganisms. Once in the atmosphere, DMS undergoes oxidation by photolitically formed radicals.
While DMS is known as the main biogenic sulfur source for the atmosphere, its role in the mechanism of particle and cloud condensation nuclei formation, is not fully understood. Theoretically, the chemistry of DMS is fairly well described but some aspects still need experimental support for overcoming the "convenient speculation" label.
The research at NIES focuses on the temperature dependence of the DMS oxidation system. This means obtaining information on the kinetics and yield of products and particles for completion of the chemical mechanism of DMS's atmospheric fate. The system is analyzed in situ by mean of FT-IR spectrometry.
The experimental set-up in NIES has some advantages we hope to exploit for achieving results we'll be able to extrapolate to real atmospheric conditions.

Beside laboratory work, we - my husband and I - try to spend our free time by seeing Japan. The existence of a hiking club in Tsukuba as well as friendly Japanese colleagues helped us a lot.
As strange it might sound, I've discovered some similarities between my country and Japan. For example, both Romanians and Japanese have a strong feeling of group identity.
But, while the Asian facial features are not strange to me, natto, sashimi and the Japanese language still represent a challenge.

Iulia Patroescu-Klotz