Historical Figures Who Made a Difference

Whether they inspired others or changed policy in the U.S. and worldwide, Energy Technologies Area scientists have had a huge impact. 


Tica had an illustrious career for decades at Berkeley Lab. His work has been published hundreds of times in peer-reviewed journals and his publications have been cited in more than 6,000 articles.

Air quality expert Joan Daisey joined Berkeley Lab in 1986 and eventually headed what was then called the Environmental Energy Technologies (EET) Division's Indoor Environment Department.

"Tica" Novakov, a Pioneer in Black Carbon Research

Tihomir (Tica) Novakov, who helped coin the term black carbon in the 1970s, pioneered the now massive field of research on the nature and impacts of carbonaceous aerosols in the environment. In addition to posing a direct health threat via inhalation, black carbon is important as a short-lived forcing agent for climate change.

In the atmosphere and on snow and ice, black carbon absorbs sunlight, which contributes to global warming and changes to regional climate. The presence of carbonaceous particles also changes the nucleation of rain droplets, leading to changes in precipitation. It took a while for the scientific community to accept that carbonaceous aerosol particles were common in the atmosphere or important at all. That the idea is accepted now is thanks to Novakov's research group, which studied the issue for decades.

Novakov had a positive influence on many people he encountered and influenced throughout his career, including Tom Kirchstetter, director for the Energy Analysis & Environmental Impacts Division at the Energy Technologies Area, Berkeley Lab.

"Tica taught me to be a scientist — that we think in terms of solving problems rather than doing projects.  He bolstered my curiosity for understanding and  showed me the importance of describing our natural world in simple terms," Kirchstetter said.

Read more about Tica Novakov


Joan Daisey, Air Quality Expert and Mentor to Young Scientists

One of the leading air quality experts in the U.S. and an international leader in exposure science, Joan M. Daisey was dedicated to building a bridge between the indoor and outdoor air quality research disciplines. Across more than 100 publications, her work explored the composition, sources and transport of pollutants such as tobacco smoke, expanding our understanding of human exposure to those pollutants.

Before her untimely death from cancer in 2000, Daisey headed what was then called the Environmental Energy Technologies (EET) Division's Indoor Environment Department, which had grown under her guidance and leadership to an annual budget of over $6 million and more than 60 staff.

Her work on secondhand tobacco smoke brought that issue to international attention and help establish a world-class research program at Berkeley Lab on environmental tobacco smoke exposures that remains vibrant and productive to this day.

“When Joan started work at Berkeley Lab, there was limited communication between scientists studying outdoor air quality and scientists studying indoor air quality,” says Bill Fisk, senior scientist. “Her research helped show how outdoor air pollution affected indoor pollutant levels and also how features of buildings influenced our exposures to outdoor air pollutants.”

Read more about Joan Daisey