2019 Environment Prize Winner

Professor Barbara J Finlayson-Pitts

Professor Barbara Finlayson-Pitts

University of California, Irvine


Awarded for groundbreaking research revealing new processes in the formation of photochemical air pollution and establishing the molecular basis of reactions occurring at environmental interfaces.


About the Winner

Barbara Finlayson-Pitts is Professor of Chemistry at the University of California, Irvine, UCI Distinguished Professor and Co-Director of AirUCI.  She did her undergraduate degree at Trent University in Peterborough, Canada (1970) and her Ph.D. at UC Riverside (1973).  She joined the faculty at California State University Fullerton in 1974 where she taught and carried out research until moving in 1994 to the University of California, Irvine. 

Professor Finlayson-Pitts' research focuses on laboratory studies of reactions that occur in the atmosphere, particularly those that lead to particle formation and growth, or that may increase toxicity such as atmospheric transformations of pesticides.   Professor Finlayson-Pitts is author or coauthor of more than 200 scientific publications and two books on atmospheric chemistry, the latter coauthored with her late husband, James N. Pitts Jr.  

Her research and teaching have been recognized by a number of awards, including the American Chemistry Society (ACS) Award for Creative Advances in Environmental Science & Technology, the ACS Francis P. Garvan-John M. Olin Medal, the Coalition for Clean Air Carl Moyer Award for Scientific Leadership and Technical Excellence, the Haagen-Smit Clean Air Award from the California Air Resources Board, Honorary Lifetime membership in Iota Sigma Pi, the UCI Academic Senate Distinguished Faculty Award for Research, and the 2018 Polanyi Medal of the Royal Society of Chemistry.  She has been elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical Union, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences. She co-chaired the 2016 National Academy of Science report "The Future of Atmospheric Chemistry Research".

Related Links

Link icon Barbara Finlayson-Pitts' Webpage
University of California, Irvine

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