The Science and Politics of Air Pollution

UC Irvine’s Chancellor’s Distinguished Fellows Series Featuring Dr. Robert F. Sawyer, UC Berkeley
Each year the Chancellor’s Distinguished Fellows Series brings respected scholars and non-academics to campus to share insights and expertise. As part of this year’s series, Robert F. Sawyer, Ph.D., will present “The Science and Politics of Air Pollution,” on Monday, Feb. 9, from 7 – 8 p.m. in the Crystal Cove Auditorium at the UC Irvine Student Center.
Dr. Sawyer received B.S. and M.S. degrees in mechanical engineering from Stanford University (1957 and 1958, respectively), and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees (1963 and 1966, respectively) from Princeton University, studying in the Guggenheim Aerospace Propulsion Laboratories of the Department of Aerospace Sciences.
He joined the faculty of the Mechanical Engineering Department of the University of California, Berkeley as an assistant professor in 1966 and served through the rank of full professor. He held a joint appointment as a senior faculty scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. At Berkeley, he was vice chairperson for graduate studies of the Department of Mechanical Engineering (1980 – 1983) and chairperson of the Energy and Resources Group (1984 – 1988), an interdisciplinary graduate department treating energy, resource, and environmental policy. He was selected the first Class of 1935 Professor of Energy (1988).
In December 2005, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Dr. Sawyer chair of the California Air Resources Board, a branch of the California Environmental Protection Agency, which oversees a $270 million budget and a staff of more than 1,000 employees located in Northern and Southern California. The Board's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants, while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. During Dr. Sawyer’s service as chair, the Board was also assigned responsibility for California’s Global Warming Program. He served in this position through June 2007.
Dr. Sawyer’s long history of public service includes stints as head of the Technology Panel of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Motor Vehicle Emissions (1973-1974); chair of the State of California ad hoc Committee on Atmospheric Carcinogens (1978-1979); senior policy advisor to the Office of Air and Radiation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (1994-1995); and a member of the National Research Council Committee on the Evaluation of the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Program. He chairs the Health Effects Institute Special Committee on Emerging Technologies, and is a member of the International Council on Clean Transportation.
A member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, Dr. Sawyer served as president of the International Combustion Institute (1992-1996), is a Fellow of the Society of Automotive Engineers; an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics; and a member of the Air and Waste Management Association, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and American Association of University Professors. He is a registered professional engineer (mechanical engineering and fire protection engineering) in California. He received the Berkeley Citation and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ Soichiro Honda Medal.
Currently, Dr. Sawyer is the Class of 1935 Professor of Energy Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, a visiting professor of energy and environment at University College London, and a senior faculty engineer at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Dr. Sawyer is a partner of Sawyer Associates, a California consulting company. He has authored or co-authored more than 350 publications, and is the co-author of two books, “The Chemistry of Propellants,” and “Combustion Sources of Air Pollution and Their Control.”
This lecture is free and open to the public, with a reception to follow. Parking is available in the Student Center Parking Structure (directions: For additional information about the Chancellor’s Distinguished Fellows Series, please visit

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