UC San Diego Atmospheric Chemist Kim Prather Elected to American Philosophical Society

Kim Prather is also director of the Center for Aerosol Impacts on Chemistry of the Environment.

A distinguished scientist and professor at the University of California, San Diego has been inducted into America’s oldest learned society, joining the ranks of other notable Triton professors and alumni. Kimberly Prather, Emeritus Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Emeritus Professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the School of Physical Sciences, has been selected to join the American Philosophical Society. Prather is among 37 new members elected in 2022, and the first from UC San Diego since 2010.

“I am honored to join APS along with so many other academic and cultural luminaries,” said Prather. “It is a reflection of the efforts of my research group and the support I have received from the UC San Diego community to address the importance of our work to confront the challenges of climate change head-on, using innovative strategies.

Prather’s work focuses on how human emissions affect the atmosphere, climate, and health. She joined the faculty of UC San Diego in 2001 and holds five patents for her innovations in mass spectrometry for environmental chemistry laboratories and field studies. In 2019, she was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. In April 2020, she became a Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences for her contributions to aerosol chemistry. She is an elected member of the American Geophysical Union, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Prather is also a member of the advisory board for the Institute for Practical Ethics at UC San Diego.

She is currently working to understand the health and environmental impacts of ocean-based pollutants and toxins in runoff and outfalls and the concentration of particles small enough to lodge deep in human lungs and impact on our health.

“The urgency of tackling pollution and climate issues cannot be overstated,” Prather said. “It motivates me every day to wake up and share my findings with local, federal and global leaders to help bring these issues into our larger conversation that will lead to solutions.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Prather has co-authored several high profile publications, as well as a letter to the Biden administration, calling for immediate action to address and limit airborne transmission of COVID-19 and exposure. by inhalation, which has helped improve public- health protections for people around the world. She has advised local and federal government officials, school districts, businesses and the general public on how to reopen safely and stay open, with a focus on cleaning indoor air using filtration and ventilation.

Founded in 1743 by Benjamin Franklin to “promote useful knowledge,” APS honors and engages eminent scientists, humanists, social scientists, and cultural leaders in the spirit of interdisciplinary intellectual fellowship. It provides the country’s top intellectuals and scholars with opportunities for research, networking and public engagement. Over the years, members have included George Washington, Thomas Paine, Charles Darwin, Robert Frost and Albert Einstein. Since 1960, 22 prominent members of UC San Diego have been elected, including astronomer Margaret Burbridge, philosopher of science Nancy Cartwright, biologist Francis Crick, and chemistry professor and former chancellor Marye Anne Fox.

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