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University of Bristol scientist wins prestigious Royal Society of Chemistry Prize

Matt Rigby

Professor Matthew Rigby

Press release issued: 12 June 2024

A University of Bristol scientist has been awarded the Environment, Sustainability & Energy mid-career Prize by the Royal Society of Chemistry for his pioneering work in monitoring the changing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Professor Matthew Rigby from the School of Chemistry uses observations and computer simulations to research the abundances and fluxes of environmentally harmful gases in the atmosphere, which has contributed to a measurable reduction in emissions of ozone-depleting gases.

Professor Rigby’s work is at the intersection of atmospheric chemistry and physics, Bayesian statistics, machine learning and numerical modelling.

Atmospheric observations contain a wealth of information on the sources and sinks of greenhouse gases and substances that deplete the stratospheric ozone layer.

Understanding the processes responsible for the changing levels of these compounds is critical for evaluating the progress on climate agreements, and Professor Rigby’s advances in this field have allowed him to quantify global emissions trends of more than 30 compounds relevant to the Montreal Protocol and Paris Agreement.

Professor Rigby’s work is now routinely used to evaluate the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions and spot unexpected greenhouse gas sources.

Professor Rigby said: “I am enormously grateful to be awarded this prize, and I’d like to acknowledge the role of my wonderful colleagues in Bristol and around the world. Without them, my work wouldn’t be possible.”

The Environment, Sustainability & Energy Division mid-career Prize is awarded by the Royal Society of Chemistry for outstanding contributions made by mid-career scientists in the relevant fields. Professor Rigby will receive a £3,000 prize and will complete a UK lecture tour highlighting his work.

Dr Helen Pain, Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry, said: “The chemical sciences cover a rich and diverse collection of disciplines, from fundamental understanding of materials and the living world to applications in medicine, sustainability, technology and more.

“By working together across borders and disciplines, chemists are finding solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges. Their passion, dedication and brilliance are an inspiration. I extend my warmest congratulations to them all.”

The Royal Society of Chemistry’s prizes have recognised excellence in the chemical sciences for more than 150 years. This year’s winners join a prestigious list of past winners in the RSC’s prize portfolio, 60 of whom have gone on to win Nobel Prizes for their work.

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