The Power List 2016
Distinguished Chair in Atmospheric Chemistry, Director of the Center for Aerosol Impacts on Climate and the Environment, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, USA
Passion: Working to better understand how atmospheric particles and microbes influence clouds, climate, and weather. In particular, I am very interested in how Mother Nature controls the climate. Our overall goal is to help better understand how clouds form so that we can make effective solutions to address climate change – considered by many to be the largest environmental challenge in our lifetime.
Pivotal moment: I would say a pivotal moment was when we first used the instruments I developed early in my career to understand the major sources of pollution in the “brown cloud” over India. It was exciting to realize that we had developed a method that could now be used to determine sources of air pollution all over the world.
Prediction: In the areas of climate change and atmospheric chemistry, being able to identify a significant fraction of the chemical species present in the atmosphere has been an elusive goal for many decades. Thus, the game-change technology will be on-line mass spectrometers with the necessary sensitivity and selectivity to identify more species that are playing a critical role in affecting human health and our climate. An even loftier advance would be to identify the chemical species on the surfaces of aerosol particles, which ultimately play a critical role in controlling clouds and the heterogeneous reactions that occur in the atmosphere.