Haagen-Smit Clean Air Awards

Honoring Air Quality Achievements

This page last reviewed June 30, 2015

Clean Air Leadership Talks with the 2014 Haagen-Smit Clean Air Award Winners

Learn about real-world air pollution problems and innovative solutions from three individuals who will be bestowed with California’s premier air quality award for their career contributions.

photo of Donald Blake
Donald R. Blake, Ph.D.
Air Pollution Research
photo of Kirk Smith
Kirk R. Smith, Ph.D.
International Air Pollution Research
photo of John Wall
John C. Wall, Sc.D.
Emission Control Technology


If you missed the talk, you can watch the recorded webcast in .WMV format or .MP4 format.

Each of three award recipients will gave an abbreviated, 20-minute, talk:   
Cooking Health & Climate: The Surprisingly Large Impacts of Humanity’s Oldest Daily TaskDonald Blake, professor of chemistry at the University of California Irvine, has carried out internationally acclaimed measurements of atmospheric volatile organic compounds that have provided critical insights into their roles in air pollution and climate change. Learn about his research showing how elevated air pollution in some cities, such as Mexico City, can be attributed to propane use and cooking emissions rather than traffic pollution. Presentation slides will be posted soon.

Household Air Pollution & Impacts on Women and ChildrenKirk R. Smith, professor of global environmental health at the University of California Berkeley, holds visiting professorships in India and China, where he works to bring clean air to all people, particularly those who suffer from high exposures to smoke from traditional cookstoves using biomass and coal fuels. His research was critical to the development of the global burden of disease estimate that 4 million people die prematurely from household fuel combustion each year and in helping trigger the first recognition of the importance of air pollution within health ministries. Download the presentation slides

Advances in Diesel Technologies & Worldwide Implementation –  John Wall, vice president and chief technical officer for diesel engine manufacturer Cummins Inc., has played a leadership role in the development and implementation of all the major technology advancements ultimately leading to the near-zero levels of emissions of particulate matter and oxides of nitrogen from engines. He has consistently taken a proactive environmentally conscious position for the diesel industry throughout his career.  Learn about the latest advancements in diesel emissions and what they mean for public health and the world. Download the presentation slides

For more information about the Clean Air Leadership Talks with the 2014 Haagen-Smit Clean Air Award Winners, email Heather.Choi@arb.ca.gov or call 916-322-3893.


logo for haagen-smit clean air award

Since 2001, the California Air Resources Board has annually bestowed the distinguished Haagen-Smit Clean Air Awards.  The awards are given to extraordinary individuals to recognize significant career accomplishments in at least one of these air quality categories: research, environmental policy, science and technology, public education and community service.  Over the past 13 years there have been 37 acclaimed recipients.  In light of the global connection between air quality and climate change, the scope of the program has expanded to include an international focus and a focus on climate change science and mitigation.  Learn more about the past winners.

Who is Dr. Haagen-Smit?

The prestigious award program was named after Dr. Arie J. Haagen-Smit, a native of Utrecht in the Netherlands, who was a leader in developing air quality standards based on his research efforts. Dr. Haagen-Smit, known by many as the "father" of air pollution control, was a graduate of the University of Utrecht and a biochemistry professor at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena for 16 years before beginning his air pollution research in 1948. Through a series of experiments, he found that most of California's smog resulted from photochemistry (when exhaust from motor vehicles and industrial facilities react with sunlight to create ozone). This breakthrough is the foundation upon which today's nationwide air pollution standards are based. After serving for eight years as an original board member of ARB's predecessor, the Motor Vehicle Pollution Control Board, Dr. Haagen-Smit became ARB's first chairman in 1968. In 1977, he died of lung cancer two months after the ARB laboratory in El Monte was dedicated in his name.

Dr. Haagen-Smit has been honored with another award program administered by Atmospheric Environment, a publication of original air pollution research and its applications. See more information on the Atmospheric Environment Haagen-Smit Prize and recent winners.

Dr. Haagen-Smit in a labResources

Review information about the 2008 Annual Haagen-Smit Symposium which focused on the role of land use and transportation in meeting AB 32 requirements and achieving California’s vision of a low-carbon future.

For more information on Dr. Haagen-Smit visit these links:

For more information on ARB's Clean Air Awards, contact Heather Choi at (916) 322-3893.

Photos Courtesy of the Archives, California Institute of Technology