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2018 Frank A Chambers Excellence in Air Pollution Award

The Frank A Chambers Award, established by resolution of the Board of Directors on February 12, 1954, is for outstanding achievement by an individual in the science and art of air pollution control. It requires accomplishment of a technical nature on the part of the recipient that is considered to be a major contribution to the science and art of air pollution control, the merit of which has been widely recognized by persons in the field.

The coverage is intentionally broad, since it is expected to recognize achievement in any line of technical endeavor in air pollution control from pure research to applied science.

Frank A. Chambers (1885-1951) was a founder of the Smoke Prevention Association of America, forerunner of the Air & Waste Management Association, and almost single-handedly established the foundation of our present Association. His ideas have been put into operation in many cities in the United States. The Frank A. Chambers Award may be awarded to members and nonmembers of the Association.

A&WMA presents the 2018 Frank A. Chambers Excellence in Air Pollution Control Award to Bret A. Schichtel for his contributions in the area of air pollution research and development..

Bret A. Schichtel, Sc.D., received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Virginia Tech in 1989. He completed his graduate work at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, receiving master’s and Doctor of Science degrees in 1992 and 1996, respectively. He currently is a physical scientist for the U.S. National Park Service Air Resources Division, where in cooperation with his university counterparts, leads a mix of university and National Park Service scientists to better understand the causes of poor air quality in our national parks and other rural lands. As part of this effort, he is the technical lead and a steering committee member for the Interagency Monitoring of Protected Visual Environments (IMPROVE) monitoring program.

Throughout his career, Dr. Schichtel has worked at the interface of science and policy, developing actionable information in support of air quality management issues. This includes designing, initiating, coordinating, and participating in field and laboratory studies and subsequent data and modeling analyses to better understand the physical and chemical processes that cause high levels of particulate matter, ozone, and reactive nitrogen deposition and their contributions to visibility impairment and other ecosystem effects. This has often involved multiple stakeholders, bringing together diverse parties from environmental, industry, government, and university groups. This collaborative approach has proven instrumental in generating reliable and trustworthy information.

Dr. Schichtel has striven to take an integrative approach in this work, leading to new methods for air quality data and modeling assessments and new ways to combine and visualize data. This is evident in the many air quality pattern and trend analyses from data measured in the IMPROVE and other particulate matter and optical monitoring networks; unique trajectory and source apportionment assessments; and field and laboratory studies to understand fundamental processes, such as the deposition mechanism of ammonia and optical properties of biomass burning emissions. Much of his work has focused on data integration, including the merging of data from disparate monitoring networks and fusion of monitoring and modeling data in hybrid modeling methods to better understand the sources and processes causing adverse air quality.

These analyses have improved our understanding of long-range transport of pollutants, including longer-lived pollutants, such as sulfate aerosols, as well as ozone and ammonia, two pollutants that were once thought to be primarily local air quality issues. Using radiocarbon and IMPROVE data, he showed that the majority of carbonaceous aerosols in rural areas is from biogenic sources and demonstrated the importance of emissions from wildfires, vegetation, and area sources, including residential wood combustion, to these aerosols. He has helped document the steep declines in sulfate aerosols in the eastern United States, occurring in lockstep with sulfur dioxide emission reductions and suggesting a near-linear relationship, and the resulting -improvement in visibility in our national parks and wilderness areas. In addition, he helped demonstrate the shift in importance from oxidized to reduced nitrogen compounds to the excess reactive nitrogen deposition causing changes in sensitive ecosystems. This indicates a shift in importance from combustion sources to agriculture sources and needed changes in management to resolve these issues. The success of these research activities is documented in more than 80 journal publications, 16 of which have appeared in the Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association (JA&WMA) and EM Magazine.

Dr. Schichtel has also helped design and build some of the first web-based data integration, assessment, and distribution systems to make routine measured data (e.g., IMPROVE and EPA AQS data) more easily accessible to the scientific, regulatory, and public communities. These systems made the integration and visualization of raw and processed data seamless, thus facilitating and expanding the use of these data. The web-based tools were extensively used by states, scientists, and the public in the initial phases of the implementation of the Regional Haze Rule and have been the foundation for other web-based data distribution systems of modeling, satellite, and emission data.

During his graduate studies and career at the National Park Service, he has been an active participant of the Association, first becoming a member in 1991. Since then, he has given and coauthored numerous presentations at A&WMA meetings; has been an active participant on Technical Coordinating Committees on visibility and particulate matter; has helped organize a number of visibility and air quality specialty conferences in the United States and China; has been an instructor for A&WMA short courses; and is currently a member of the Publications Committee, JA&WMA Editorial Review Board, and Critical Review Committee.