Professor Kimberly A. Prather is the Distinguished Chair in Atmospheric Chemistry at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at University of California, San Diego. Professor Prather’s research group has performed ground-based, shipboard, and aircraft studies worldwide to advance our understanding of the major sources, chemical mixing state, and reactivity of atmospheric aerosols. A major focus of Professor Prather’s research has involved improving our understanding of how aerosols impact clouds. Her group has performed in-situ measurements to determine the aerosol sources that seed clouds in flights and shown that long range transported dust and microbes from as far away as Africa can enhance the snowfall over the Sierra Nevada Mountain range in California. Professor Prather is the founding Director of the NSF Center for Aerosol Impacts on Chemistry of the Environment (CAICE), an NSF Center for Chemical Innovation. CAICE scientists have transferred the ocean-atmosphere system into the laboratory to investigate how marine phytoplankton, bacteria, and viruses influence atmospheric chemistry, clouds, and climate. Most recently, she has advocated in media interviews and briefings with public health and other leaders the importance of acknowledging aerosol transmission in an effort to reduce the global spread of COVID-19 and end the ongoing pandemic. Professor Prather is also involved in education and outreach activities aimed at creating more diverse and inclusive environments in the environmental sciences.
Recognition for Professor Prather's work includes being an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and National Academy of Sciences, and an elected fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Sciences and the American Geophysical Union. Some of her major awards include the AAAR Kenneth T. Whitby Award, ACS Award for Creative Advances in Environmental Science & Technology, ACS Frank H. Field & Joe L. Franklin Award for Outstanding Achievement in Mass Spectrometry, Pittsburgh Analytical Chemistry Award, and the Haagen-Smit Clean Air Award.