About Dr. Joan M. Daisey
Joan Daisey, a founding ISEA member and past president (1995-1996), passed away on February 29, 2000, after a year-long battle with cancer. Daisey was senior staff scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and one of the nation’s leading experts on indoor air quality.
Upon learning of her death, the ISEA Executive Board voted to rename the Society’s Outstanding Young Scientist Award in honor of Dr. Daisey. The award was established in 1998, due largely to the efforts of Dr. Daisey, who chaired the Awards Committee at that time. She was known to particularly enjoy working with promising young scientists and helped guide numerous students in their doctoral research.
Earlier in the year, the ISEA Awards Committee announced that Joan Daisey would be the recipient of the Constance L. Mehlman Award for 2000. A posthumous presentation of the award took place at the October conference in Monterey, at a function honoring her.
A physical chemist by training, Daisey was at the Berkeley Lab for 14 years and headed the Environmental Energy Technologies (EET) Division’s Indoor Environment Department, with a 60-person staff and a budget of more than $6 million per year. She was also chair of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Science Advisory Board, an influential national board that helps guide the direction of EPA research.
Born in New York City, Daisey received her B.A. in chemistry from Georgian Court College in New Jersey in 1962 and her Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Seton Hall University in 1970. With more than 25 years of research experience, Daisey’s more than 100 publications focused on organic pollutants and indoor and outdoor air particles. Her work in this field included studies of the physical and chemical nature, sources, transport, and fate of pollutants, as well as exposure assessment and exposure pathways.
“Joan’s contributions — as an outstanding researcher within the Department, as an advocate for linking indoor and outdoor air quality research, and as a national leader on environmental research — were magnificent,” said Mark Levine, Division Director of EET. “Equally, we will miss her joy in doing research, her impatience with impediments to progress, her sense of humor, and her acceptance of her co-workers as friends and part of her extended family.” Added Charles V. Shank, Director of Berkeley Lab, “Joan has had an enormous impact here, and we will miss her very much.”
“She will be remembered as an outstanding, creative, and energetic scientist with a positive outlook and a sense of humor,” said fellow scientist Bill Fisk. “She was unselfish and treated her colleagues with warmth and respect.”
While a researcher at New York University Medical Center’s Department of Environmental Medicine (1975-1986), Daisey was a principal investigator in numerous multi-institutional field projects, including the Airborne Toxic Elements and Organic Substances Study. As a senior scientist at Berkeley Lab, she was a principal investigator for many research projects on environmental tobacco smoke, ventilation, infiltration and indoor air quality, the health effects of volatile organic compounds and particles, and on the soil-to-gas transport of volatile organic compounts into buildings as an exposure pathway. She had a strong interest in the continuum between indoor and outdoor air quality and helped to build a bridge between the respective research communities.
Daisey took a lively interest in guiding the development of new areas of research. She was active in the public arena, where she applied her scientific expertise and knowledge of toxic chemicals to the problem of reducing their exposures to human beings. She was a member of EPA’s Science Advisory Board since 1987 and was chair of the Board since 1998. Her work with the Board included participation in several committees, including the EPA’s Human Exposure and Health Subcommittee of the Advisory Board’s Integrated Risk Project. She served on the DOE Lab Directors’ Environmental and Occupational/Public Health Standards Steering Group since 1993; the Board of Scientific Counselors of ATSDR (1988-1990); and the NRC’s Committee on Advances in Assessing Human Exposure to Airborne Pollutants from 1987 to 1989. Daisey worked on the peer review committees that developed emergency plans for the sampling and analysis of data from the Love Canal area of New York State in 1987 and 1988.