US Department of State names UCI atmospheric scientist a Jefferson Science Fellow

05/25/05

Michael Prather will spend a year in Washington, D.C., to offer expertise on environmental issues

Irvine, Calif., May 25, 2005 -- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has announced that Michael Prather, an internationally recognized UC Irvine expert on global climate change, is one of only five 2005-06 Jefferson Science Fellows selected by the U.S. Department of State.

As a fellow, Prather will now spend a year in Washington, D.C. He will bring his expertise in environmental issues of climate change, ozone depletion and air quality to assist the Department of State as it formulates and implements foreign policy. He also will discuss science and technology with non-specialists and the general public, providing advice and education, and may travel to U.S. embassies as necessary.

"I am grateful and honored to be awarded a Jefferson Science Fellowship," said Prather, who holds the Fred Kavli Chair in Earth System Science at UCI. "I see this as an excellent opportunity to learn firsthand how science and technology are used in our relationship with other nations and to see firsthand the process whereby policy at the State Department is developed within the bureaus or division."

Prather, who came to UCI in 1992 as a professor of Earth system science, specializes in modeling and analyzing atmospheric composition, particularly the growing abundance of greenhouse gases, such as methane and ozone. By simulating the physical, chemical and biological processes that determine the composition of the atmosphere, his computer models help predict the buildup of greenhouse gases as well as atmospheric changes resulting from the interaction between human activities and natural factors. His research has been influential in the drafting of international environmental standards such as the Montreal and Kyoto protocols. He has served as lead author on several climate assessments by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, including the environmental effects of aviation.

The details of the Jefferson Science Fellows' assignments at the Department of State will be decided during an orientation period in August, when all five fellows meet with the different regional bureaus and more topical divisions within the department. Last year's fellows are completing their assignments in such bureaus as the Bureau for Economic Growth, Agriculture, and Trade at the U.S. Agency for International Development; and the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, and the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs at the State Department.

"I anticipate that my assignment will require a much broader expertise and that I will have to contact and rely on the broader scientific community, including my colleagues at UCI," said Prather. "As a fellow, I hope also to ensure that, when science provides a basis for decision, those decisions are based on sound science."

The Jefferson Science Fellowship program is administered by the National Academies and supported through a partnership between the MacArthur Foundation and the Carnegie Corp.; the science, technology and engineering academic community in the United States; professional scientific societies; and the State Department. Fellows are U.S. citizens and tenured academic scientists and engineers from institutions of higher learning in the country.

Each fellow receives a $50,000 stipend from the MacArthur Foundation and Carnegie Corp. for living expenses, as well as funding for government travel. In addition, fellows continue receiving salaries and benefits from their home institutions. After the fellows return to their institutions, they remain available as consultants to the State Department for an additional five years.

Named after Thomas Jefferson, the fellowship program is only in its second year. Besides Prather, the other 2005-06 Jefferson Science Fellows are William Hammack, University of Illinois; James Harrington, Rutgers University; Alexander King, Purdue University; and Edward Samulski, University of North Carolina.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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