James Anderson wins the 2021 Dreyfus Prize for environmental chemistry
NEW YORK, May 11, 2021 / PRNewswire / – The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation announced that James G. Anderson, Philip S. Weld Professor of Chemistry at Harvard University, is the recipient of the 2021 Dreyfus Prize in chemical sciences. The international biennial award, which includes a $ 250,000 prize, is awarded this year in environmental chemistry. The award ceremony is expected to take place at Harvard in autumn.
Anderson received this award for decades of outstanding contributions to the field of environmental chemistry. He is honored for pioneering measurements of free radicals that shape the chemistry of the atmosphere, laying the groundwork for global agreements to protect the stratospheric ozone layer. His work and advocacy have had a lasting impact on scientists, policy makers, students and society. He is a leading figure in the field, renowned for his extraordinary abilities both to distill the most important questions that characterize the complex photochemical system of the stratosphere and then to perform the extremely difficult experiments necessary to answer them. He has testified numerous times before Senate and House committees on national energy and climate issues.
Anderson’s high-altitude measurements of the reaction kinetics of chlorine radicals derived from chlorofluorocarbons, also known as CFCs, directly shaped the Montreal Protocol, a landmark global agreement to protect the stratospheric ozone layer. His work has conclusively demonstrated that CFCs are responsible for the massive destruction of stratospheric ozone. As a result of Anderson’s research and testimony, CFC emissions harmful to the atmosphere have been phased out. The Montreal Protocol, finalized in 1987, was the first treaty to be ratified by any country in the world.
Anderson’s results are widely regarded as the gold standard for reaction rate data and in situ observations of free radicals, reactive intermediates and isotopes in the stratosphere. The reactions he identified in the atmosphere were then rigorously studied in his laboratory by developing ultrasensitive detection and laser techniques. The laser systems he developed, to measure concentrations as low as 1 part in 1014, provided the ability to quantitatively establish the rate of ozone catalytic loss which allowed direct testing of stratospheric chemistry models.
Recently, Anderson made a revolutionary link between depletion of stratospheric ozone and global climate change. Increasing severe thunderstorms, especially in the Midwestern United States, carry water vapor into the relatively dry stratosphere. Anderson’s work has shown that the radicals that come from this increased water concentration contribute substantially to a loss of this protective ozone layer.
Anderson’s influence is further amplified by his transformative work as an educator. Many of its students and postdoctoral fellows have gone on to become distinguished professors at top-notch universities. Anderson’s last book, Academic chemistry: frontiers and foundations from a global and molecular perspective (MIT Press), provides a blueprint for teaching introductory chemistry concepts in the broader context of technology, global energy, and climate. His innovative approach motivates students using real world problems that can be solved through chemistry, and forms the basis of a very popular course at Harvard.
“Jim Anderson created the tools and instrumentation to understand the mechanistic links between chemistry, radiation and dynamics in the atmosphere that control climate, ”said Matthew Tirrell, Chairman of the Scientific Affairs Committee of the Dreyfus Foundation and Dean of the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering University of Chicago.
Anderson was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1992. He is a fellow of the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Geophysical Union. His many awards and honors include the Lichtenberg Medal from the Göttingen Academy of Sciences and Humanities, the Polanyi Medal from the British Royal Academy of Chemistry, the Benton Medal for Public Service by the University of Chicagoand the Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award in physical sciences. He received the Harvard University Ledlie Prize for the most valuable contribution to science by a member of the faculty; the United Nations Vienna Convention Prize for the Protection of the Ozone Layer; the EO Lawrence Prize in Environmental Science and Technology; and two American Chemical Society awards: for chemistry in the public interest and for creative advancements in environmental science and technology.
H. Scott Walter, President of the Dreyfus Foundation, remarked: “Jim Anderson the contributions to our understanding of environmental chemistry are extraordinary and profound. We have all benefited from his work. The Foundation is delighted to recognize his achievements with the Dreyfus Prize. “
Anderson said: “Increasingly, private science foundations are spurring innovation in rapidly developing multidisciplinary science initiatives that are critical to expanding unprecedented training and research opportunities. For seventy-five years, the Dreyfus Foundation has been the pioneer of innovation in chemistry and chemical engineering in the context of coupling research and education to social responsibility, and to solve problems on a scale world that support human effort. Thus, I am deeply moved by receiving the Dreyfus Prize in chemical sciences. “
The Dreyfus Prize for Chemical Sciences, launched in 2009, is awarded in a specific field of chemistry at each cycle. This is the highest distinction of the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation (www.dreyfus.org). The Foundation was established in 1946 by a chemist, inventor and businessman Camille Dreyfus, with a mission to advance the science of chemistry, chemical engineering, and allied sciences as a means of improving human relationships and circumstances around the world.
SOURCE Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation