Ronald C. Cohen, a climate and air quality researcher with the Sustainable Energy Systems Group – has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world's largest general scientific society, formed in 1848.
This year, AAAS welcomed 396 of its members as Fellows – an honor bestowed upon them by their peers that recognizes "meritorious efforts to advance science or its applications." Fellows are "expected to meet the commonly held standards of professional ethics and scientific integrity." They are elected annually by an AAAS council from a list of approved nominations passed on by steering groups in focused areas of science.
Cohen, a faculty scientist in the Energy Analysis and Environmental Impacts Division of Berkeley Lab's Energy Technologies Area, was recognized by the AAAS "For insights into how chemistry affects the composition of Earth's atmosphere, especially the chemistry of nitrogen oxides and the isotopes of water."
He also serves as professor of Chemistry, and of Earth and Planetary Science at UC Berkeley, and is a core member of the Berkeley Atmospheric Sciences Center, which is a focal point of UC Berkeley's research on Earth's climate and atmosphere.
"This particular recognition as a Fellow is one of the more prestigious honors in the world of science," Cohen said. "It's nice to have my work and my contributions recognized and appreciated by my colleagues around the world."
Cohen's work has focused on understanding the global nitrogen cycle – how nitrogen cycles through the atmosphere and between the atmosphere and biosphere. His research group also has studied the atmospheric chemistry of urban environments, the formation of aerosol in the atmosphere, and cloud formation, among other efforts.
His recognition by AAAS is a nod to Cohen's work over the past 15 years in studying nitrogen oxides produced by fossil fuel combustion and other sources, including natural processes, and how they can lead to other pollutants and climate effects.
Much of Cohen's chemistry work has been performed on the UC Berkeley campus, and Cohen's research team has looked to Berkeley Lab for supercomputing resources that are useful in interpreting data collected in experiments, and in formulating predictions.
One of Cohen's ongoing endeavors, called BEACO2N (the Berkeley Atmospheric CO2 Observation Network) utilizes a network of dozens of air-quality and climate sensors planted around the Bay Area to monitor carbon dioxide, ozone, and atmospheric forms of nitrogen.
The pilot project, launched in 2012, will help show how emissions and atmospheric chemistry changes over time and could help policymakers gauge the effects of pollution-related regulations, and to set new policies. "The idea is to both be able to attribute air-quality emissions to specific sources and to be able to report on that at a neighborhood scale," he said.
The Lab's expertise could be useful in developing the hardware and software to better utilize and manage data from even larger sensor networks. "If you have hundreds or thousands of sensors, how do you think about the infrastructure that supports that?" he said.
The new AAAS Fellows will be recognized on Feb. 17, 2018, during a forum at the 2018 AAAS Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas.