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Feb. 26: Carnegie Mellon's Lester Lave To Receive Prestigious Environmental Award From Air and Waste Management Association

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Chriss Swaney                 
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swaney@andrew.cmu.edu

Carnegie Mellon's Lester Lave To Receive Prestigious
Environmental Award From Air and Waste Management Association

lavePITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University's Lester B. Lave will receive the 2010 Richard Beatty Mellon Environmental Stewardship Award from the Air and Waste Management Association at the association's annual meeting June 24 in Calgary, Canada.   
    
"This is a wonderful honor, and I am so very pleased to be recognized by my peers for ongoing work in the important areas of air pollution and waste management control," said Lave, the James H. Higgins University Professor of Economics at the Tepper School of Business, a professor of engineering and public policy and co-director of the university's Electricity Industry Center.
    
The award is given to an individual whose contributions of a civic nature have aided substantially in pollution abatement and for developing increased interest for the cause of air pollution control and waste management for the betterment of the environment.
    
"This award is a wonderful tribute to the creative and dynamic professional work of Professor Lave. For more than 50 years, he has made substantial contributions to advancing environmental science, policy and regulatory approaches in the U.S. and worldwide," said David A. Dzombak, the Walter J. Blenko Sr. Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and faculty director of Carnegie Mellon's Steinbrenner Institute of Environmental Education and Research. "In addition to using his powerful intellect, creativity and communication skills to make research contributions, he has used these same gifts to bring research developments and new thinking about environmental stewardships to the public realm."
    
For more than three decades, Lave has been a leader in developing risk assessment tools and economic analysis on a wide range of environmental topics, including air quality and related health issues, and analysis and design of regulatory structures.
    
A contemporary of the late Carnegie Mellon President Richard M. Cyert, Lave said he would hunker down with his research on Saturday mornings to prepare for weekend chats with Cyert, who routinely visited faculty research hubs. "We were all very nervous, but we enjoyed those impromptu personal visits during our early academic careers," said Lave, who has been at Carnegie Mellon since 1968.
    
In 1970, Lave and his Ph.D. student Eugene Seskin published a paper in the journal Science, titled "Air Pollution and Human Health," which showed that the levels of air pollution in American cities was shortening the lives of people.  
    
"While the study was well received by government regulators and the environmental community, it was not welcomed by some industrial companies. President Cyert received calls from university trustees back then to fire me. It took some years for some major industrial companies to understand that being good environmental citizens was important to society," Lave said.
    
The author of more than 25 books and hundreds of articles in scholarly journals and the popular press, Lave was elected to the National Academies Institute of Medicine in 1982 for his contributions in air quality and health. Building on research he did in the 1960s on the role of technological change in agriculture, transportation and risk analysis, Lave began looking at the links between air quality, health and industrial activity.  
    
Ultimately, his innovative work led to service on many state and regional boards, including the Health Task Force for Pennsylvania and several National Academies committees.
    
Lave's work at the Brookings Institution provided the foundation for his work in the late 1980s, which focused on the use of risk assessment in environmental and public health decision making and regulation.
    
In the 1990s, Lave founded the Carnegie Mellon Green Design Institute, a collaboration between the College of Engineering and the Tepper School of Business.
    
"We are still going strong with all our work on designing products and processes for sustainable environmental performance," Lave said. "Our economic input-output life cycle assessment tool has been extremely useful for a variety of industry sectors."
    
Francis Clay McMichael, a professor emeritus in the departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Engineering and Public Policy, said much of Lave's success comes from his ability to view the whole as more than the sum of the parts.
    
Since 2000, Lave has continued his leadership in the Green Design Institute and co-directs the university's Electricity Industry Center, where a cache of energy challenges like an archaic power grid structure and deregulation issues continue to impact industry and the environment.
    
Lave earned a bachelor's degree in economics from Reed College in 1960 and a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University in 1963.

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Pictured above is Lester Lave, the James H. Higgins University Professor of Economics at the Tepper School of Business, a professor of engineering and public policy and co-director of the university's Electricity Industry Center.