Sarath Guttikunda, a global leader in air quality analysis who earned a PhD from the University of Iowa in 2002, has been named the winner of the 2022 American Geophysical Union (AGU) International Award.
The award is given annually to a mid-career or senior scientist team, individual, or group in recognition of making an outstanding contribution to furthering the Earth and space sciences and using science for the benefit of society in developing nations, according to the AGU website. It is among the AGU's highest honors.
The chemical engineer, atmospheric scientist, TED fellow, and founder of Urban Emissions (India) has worked to bridge the gap between science and policy. Two programs are at the heart of his work: air quality forecasting and the Air Pollution knowledge Assessments (APnA) program for cities with applications in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America.
Guttikunda first gained experience building and applying air quality forecasting systems while pursuing a PhD in chemical engineering and environmental policy at UI under the guidance of Greg Carmichael, a professor of chemical and biochemical engineering and director of the Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research (CGRER).
A similar framework was used with improved modeling and computational tools to develop a regional and urban forecasting platform for India and some Indian cities. The program relays not only a three-day air quality level but also where this pollution is likely to originate from.
The APnA city program enables scientists to collate available information from disparate sources to build a representative emissions inventory and pollution map in hopes of jump-starting informed discussions among local leaders. In India, Guttikunda’s research team has covered 60 cities and plans to release reports for all 132 National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) cities by the end of 2023.