Kimberly Prather is a distinguished professor and the distinguished chair in Atmospheric Chemistry at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of California, San Diego. In February 2019, she became the first woman at UCSD to be awarded membership in the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), for contributions including "technologies that transformed understanding of aerosols and their impacts on air quality, climate, and human health."
Early in her career, Kimberly developed a technique known as aerosol time-of-flight mass spectrometry that is widely used in atmospheric field studies around the globe to determine the origin and chemistry of aerosols. A major focus of her research involves understanding how aerosols impact climate, with a major focus on their role in modifying clouds and precipitation processes.
Kimberly also serves as co-principal investigator on a project to build the Scripps Ocean Atmosphere Research Simulator (SOARS) - a new state-of-the art wind-wave channel that will mimic the ocean with unprecedented accuracy, enabling scientists to explore how the introduction of pollutants by human activities is changing the chemistry of the ocean and atmosphere. Slated for initial operation in 2020, SOARS will be the only facility in the world capable of simulating future atmospheres with increasing pollution under different ocean conditions.
Kimberly has authored nearly 200 articles in high-level scientific journals. She is the recipient of the Haagen-Smit Clean Air Award, the American Chemical Society Analytical Chemistry Arthur F. Findeis Award, the Kenneth Whitby Award, the GAeF Smoluchowski Award, the National Science Foundation Special Creativity Award, the American Society for Mass Spectrometry Award, the National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award, and the Distinguished Scientist Award from the San Diego section of the American Chemical Society. Kimberly is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Geophysical Union.
Born in Santa Rosa, California, Kimberly received her PhD from UC Davis. She was a postdoctoral fellow at UC Berkeley, working with Nobel laureate Yuan T. Lee. She became an assistant professor at UC Riverside, then moved to UC San Diego as a professor in 2001.