CARB awards seven science luminaries with California’s premier air quality award

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April 9, 2020

Release #20-08


CARB awards seven science luminaries with California’s premier air quality award

2019 Haagen-Smit awards recognize outstanding achievements in air quality and climate research; technology advancements; environmental justice, policy and education

SACRAMENTO – Today, the California Air Resources Board announced recipients of the 2019 Haagen-Smit Clean Air Awards, also known as the ‘Nobel Prize’ of air pollution and climate science achievements. The award recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions toward protecting public health through extraordinary careers improving air quality and climate change science, and clean air and climate technology and policy. The career contributions of this year’s award winners will have lasting impacts for air quality and climate goals not only in California, but throughout the world.

“The Haagen-Smit Award is our way of honoring individuals who have dedicated their lives and careers to protecting public health with innovative and far-reaching contributions,” CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols said. “From developing policies to protect the ozone layer to exemplary leadership driving national clean air pollution programs, these seven extraordinary people have each left a distinguished legacy that made a difference in how we tackle air pollution and fight climate change around the world.”

The Haagen-Smit Clean Air Award is named for CARB’s first chairman, the late Dr. Arie Haagen-Smit, who is best known as the “father of air pollution control” for linking smog in Southern California to automobile emissions. The awards recognize individuals who embody Dr. Haagen-Smit’s legacy through their work in research, environmental policy, science and technology, public education, climate change science, international leadership, community service, and environmental justice.

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2019 Haagen-Smit Award Winners

Stephen O. Andersen, Ph.D., Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development

Dr. Andersen has devoted more than 40 years to protecting the ozone layer and climate. Beyond his central role in establishing the Montreal Protocol’s initial protections for Earth’s stratospheric layer, he demonstrated courage, foresight and tenacity in realizing that treaty’s potential to also control climate-changing emissions. He is known for his optimism, fairness and productivity, inspiring countless others to solve important environmental problems. He is being honored in the Clean Air Award category of Environmental Policy.

John Birks, Ph.D., University of Colorado, Boulder

Dr. Birks has advanced our understanding of Earth’s atmosphere through more than 40 years of research, teaching and technological innovation. His early work on the chemistry of chlorine helped unravel the complex processes of stratospheric ozone depletion. He is co-developer of the theory of “nuclear winter,” and developed a range of portable instruments that dramatically improved scientists’ capacity to measure and analyze atmospheric air quality. Dr. Birks is being honored in the Science and Technology category.

Junji Cao, Ph.D., Chinese Academy of Sciences

At a critical time in China’s development, Dr. Cao was assessing and addressing aerosol pollution. He continues to be a prolific contributor to clean air research, policy, science, technology and education. His research focused on airborne particulates in major Chinese cities has helped to drive China’s air quality programs, improving the health of millions of people, while also reducing emissions of short-lived climate pollutants. He is being honored in the category of International Leadership.

William B. DeMore, Ph.D., retired, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

The elder statesman of atmospheric chemistry, Dr. DeMore’s lifetime contributions to the measurement and modeling of atmospheric ozone cannot be overstated. His comprehensive knowledge of chemical kinetics and cool-headed scientific diplomacy were vital to the resolution of many important problems in analytical chemistry with high stakes for air quality management. He is being honored in the category of Research.

Janice E. Nolen, M.A., American Lung Association

Ms. Nolen is a committed educator and advocate for improving the respiratory health of all Americans by implementing and enforcing the Clean Air Act. The creative force behind the American Lung Association’s “State of the Air Report” for 20 years, she has contributed to several important national health policy victories. She is being honored in the category of Education.

Karl Taylor, Ph.D., Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Dr. Taylor’s contributions — both in building essential infrastructure to improve climate modeling and through his own far-reaching research exposing differential forcing effects of anthropogenic sulfate aerosols — have helped make it possible for the climate science community to evaluate and improve climate change modeling, to distinguish human impacts on climate, and to estimate uncertainty in projections of future climate change. He is being honored in the Climate Change Science category.

Joy Williams, MPH, Environmental Health Coalition

Ms. Williams has devoted her career to empowering residents of disadvantaged communities to protect themselves and their environment from toxic pollutants. For more than 30 years, she taught others how to harness the power of science, community and advocacy to defend the right of all races, cultures and income levels to fair and respectful treatment in the development and implementation of environmental laws and policies. She is being honored in the Community Service and Environmental Justice category.


Melanie Turner
Office of Communications
(916) 322-2990