Dr. Michael Prather
Fred Kavli Chair and Professor
Director, the UCI Environment Institute
Global Change, Energy, and Sustainable Resources
Michael Prather is Professor and Fred Kavli Chair in the Earth System Science Department at the University of California at Irvine, a foreign member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters and director of the UC Irvine Environment Institute. He began his research career in astrophysics (Yale, Ph.D.) and then migrated to the Earth's atmosphere (Harvard, NASA GISS & HQ), developing numerical models of the processes that control the composition and chemistry of the atmosphere. Over the past three decades his research has addressed the atmosphere's response to global change and its vulnerability to human activities. His research on atmospheric chemistry contributes to the scientific understandings of ozone depletion and climate change, and he has participated in the political process as an expert at intergovernmental meetings and as a lead author on international assessments (Montreal Protocol, UNFCCC). He recently served on the National Academies panels: Interhemispheric Transport of Air Pollution; Methods for Estimating Greenhouse Gas Emissions; and Climate, Energy, and National Security. He has authored articles in scientific journals, for Congressional reports, and with international assessments (IPCC, WMO/UNEP). His paper on the potential environmental threat posed by new technology gas NF_3 was cited by Foreign Policy magazine as a top-ten hidden story of 2008.
Dr. Prather was Editor-in-chief of Geophysical Research Letters during its transition to electronic publishing (1997-2001). A Jefferson Science Fellow at the U.S. State Department (2005-6), he worked as a science & technology analyst between the science, policy and intelligence communities. He worked at NASA as researcher and manager, overseeing environmental research programs that reported on stratospheric ozone depletion, aviation effects, and climate change. Early efforts at NASA involved a leadership role in understanding ozone depletion and how to avoid it, including as one of three scientists at the 1989 WMO/UNEP Montreal Protocol working group that proposed the amendments to completely phase-out chlorofluorocarbons.
Dr. Prather continues to prepare future generations of scientists through teaching undergraduate and graduate courses at UC Irvine. His current courses explore the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessments and examine both the science behind climate change as well as the interactions with governments in deriving the final summaries. In his work with undergraduates, Dr. Prather brings together a rigorous objectivity to environmental assessment along with a perspective on how the policy side can respond.