Press Release

Two UC Berkeley faculty among 10 recipients of $100,000 Heinz Awards

| 15 September 2009

Two researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, are among 10 recipients being recognized for their environmental achievements with the 15th annual Heinz Awards, announced today (Tuesday, Sept. 15) by the Heinz Family Foundation.

Ashok GadgilAshok Gadgil (Peg Skorpinski photo)
Ashok Gadgil, UC Berkeley professor of civil and environmental engineering and faculty senior scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Kirk Smith, UC Berkeley professor of environmental health sciences, will each receive $100,000 for the strides they have made toward a more sustainable and cleaner environment.

The Heinz Awards were created in memory of U.S. Sen. John Heinz, and have traditionally been given to individuals in the categories of arts and humanities; environment; human condition; public policy; and technology, the economy and employment. This year, the awards focused on the environment to commemorate the late senator's long-standing commitment to sustainability.

"These awards honor those guardians of our future who value our natural resources, work to remove toxic chemicals from our air and water, and create policies and the new technology that will ensure a sustainable planet for generations to come," said Teresa Heinz, widow of Sen. Heinz and chair of the Heinz Family Foundation, in a statement. "In highlighting the work of some of our country's most thoughtful, innovative and creative individuals, we are pleased to shine a deserving spotlight on their extraordinary achievements."

Gadgil, 58, who also holds a position as deputy director in Berkeley Lab's Environmental Energy Technologies Division, was recognized for his work as a researcher, inventor and humanitarian. The foundation cited Gadgil's efforts to understand airflow and pollutant transport in buildings, which helps to reduce health risks, improve energy efficiency and enhance the quality of life in developing countries. His knack for creating simple inventions to solve fundamental problems in developing countries was also highlighted.

For instance, Gadgil helped develop an inexpensive and reliable water purification system using ultraviolet light, as well as a more fuel-efficient cook stove that significantly reduced the amount of firewood that refugees in war-torn Darfur needed to collect. He has also pioneered utility-sponsored compact fluorescent lamp leasing programs that are being successfully implemented by utilities in several Eastern European and developing countries.

Gadgil currently is working on ways to inexpensively remove arsenic from drinking water in Bangladesh.

Kirk SmithKirk Smith (Peg Skorpinski photo)
Smith, 62, was recognized for his research exposing the relationships among air pollution, household fuel use, climate and health. The foundation noted that he was the first to recognize and quantify the magnitude of the pollution exposure resulting from cooking indoors with solid fuels, such as wood and other biomass. About half of the world's population uses such fuels daily, and the health impacts - ranging from pneumonia, tuberculosis, cataracts and chronic lung diseases - are disproportionately felt by the poorest women and children in developing countries. Smith also first recognized in poor countries the potential major co-benefits for both health and climate from improvements in household energy technologies.

Throughout his career, Smith has advised major international organizations, such as the World Health Organization, and his research, including the first measurements of the global warming impacts of stoves, is routinely cited by other scientists. His research on the health and climate effects from indoor cooking with solid fuels contributed to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports that helped earn the organization a 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, shared with former Vice President Al Gore. He is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

"The Heinz Awards seeks to find those individuals who are quietly and boldly working to improve this world," said Heinz. "Our recipients this year have already accomplished so much, but there is still important work left to do. This year's recipients give me great hope that a transformation is underway, that it will continue, and that it will grow and ultimately succeed in preserving our common home."

Past recipients of Heinz Awards include author Dave Eggers, medical anthropologist Paul Farmer, "environmental watchdog" Thomas FitzGerald, marine biologist Jane Lubchenco, Paul Anastas, a leader in the "green chemistry movement," and physicist John Holdren, who is now director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President.

On Oct. 28, each recipient will receive a $100,000 unrestricted award along with a medallion at a private ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Additional information about Teresa Heinz, the Heinz Family Foundation and each of the recipients is available online at: www.heinzawards.net.