About the Award

The NAS Award in Chemical Sciences is presented annually to honor innovative research in the chemical sciences that contributes to a better understanding of the natural sciences and to the benefit of humanity. The award is presented with a medal and a $15,000 prize. Nominations are being accepted now for the 2025 Award.

Kimberly A. Prather, University of California San Diego, received the 2024 NAS Award in Chemical Sciences.

Prather’s research has revolutionized our understanding of atmospheric aerosols and their impact on air quality, climate, and human health.

Her research focuses on natural and human-made aerosol particles, specifically on measurements of the concentration of particles that are small enough to be inhaled deep into our lungs that impact human health. Prather developed and implemented aerosol time-of-flight mass spectrometry (ATOFMS), a novel instrument that provides real-time information on the size, chemical composition, and source of individual aerosol particles. These measurements have provided critical insights into the health and environmental impacts of ocean-derived pollutants and toxins.

2024 NAS Award in Chemical Sciences, Prather social

Prather is the founding director of the National Science Foundation’s Center for Aerosol Impacts on Chemistry of the Environment. She is an active leader and communicator, providing key guidance on the role of aerosol transmissions of SARS-CoV-2 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Watch Prather’s acceptance speech. 

Award History

The NAS Award in Chemical Sciences was established in 1978 and supported by Occidental Petroleum Corporation from 1978 to 1996. The Merck Company Foundation assumed sponsorship in 1999. The NAS Award in Chemical Sciences was first awarded in 1979 to Linus Pauling for his studies, which elucidated in structural terms the properties of stable molecules of progressively higher significance to the chemical, geological, and biological sciences.

Previous recipients of the NAS Award in Chemical Sciences continue to achieve outstanding advancements in their fields. 26 recipients have been honored with a National Medal of Science, and 12 recipients have received a Nobel Prize in Chemistry (Pauling 1954; Taube 1983; Hoffmann 1981; Brown 1979; Cram 1987; Zewail 1999; Sharpless 2001 and 2022; Corey 1990; Bertozzi 2022; Doudna 2020; Brus 2023), and Peace Prize (Pauling 1962).

Most Recent Recipient
Kimberly A. Prather, 2024 NAS Award in Chemical Sciences.
Kimberly A. Prather
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Awards will be presented in a variety of fields including biophysics, astronomy, microbiology, medical sciences, and more.

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Previous Award Recipients

Krzysztof Matyjaszewski
Esther S. Takeuchi
Peter Schultz
John C. Tully
Jacqueline K. Barton
Jennifer A. Doudna