Brian Lamb, Regents Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and colleagues Alex Guenther, David Gay, and Hal Westberg, are the recipients of the prestigious Haagen-Smit Prize.
The prize is given to the authors of two papers each year that have been published in the journal, Atmospheric Environment. It is named for Professor Arie Jan Haagen-Smit, who was a pioneer in the field of pollution control and one of the early editors of the journal.
The award was given for a paper Lamb and his colleagues wrote in 1987 entitled “A National Inventory of Biogenic Hydrocarbon Emissions.’’
In the paper, the researchers calculated the amount of hydrocarbon emissions put off by vegetation, including trees and agricultural sources, by county throughout the U.S. on a monthly basis. Trees naturally emit organic compounds, such as isoprene and monoterpenes. When these chemicals are mixed with sunlight and the nitrogen oxide emitted by automobiles and other combustion processes, the result is ozone, which causes health problems.
The work helped researchers to better understand the role of emissions from vegetation in contributing to pollution and led to the development of the Biogenic Emission Inventory System, which the Environmental Protection Agency adopted as a tool to address ozone problems. The system allows regulators to take into account how trees and natural organics might impact pollution problems.
Dr. Alex Guenther is now a Senior Scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and Dr. David Gay is now associate director of the National Atmospheric Deposition Network. Both were graduate students at WSU when the paper was published.