In memoriam: Kirk R. Smith (1947-2020) | Cluster de Biocombustibles Sólidos

The Solid Biofuels Cluster regrets deeply the decease of Dr. Kirk Smith on June 15th 2020.

At the time of his departure, Kirk (as he was known by those who shared work and experiences despite his enormous prestige), was Professor of Global Environmental Health and Director of the Global Health and Environment Program at the University of Berkeley, California.

Dr. Kirk Smith was known for his work on environmental and public health issues, particularly in countries such as India, China, Nepal, Mongolia, Mexico, and Guatemala even though the impact of his research was global. He focused      on issues related to health impacts resulting from air pollution in households, as a result of pollutant technologies. With his own words:

“Our investment in prevention and research is an investment in our nations … it all depends on healthy people, the result of our knowledge must be prevention. If we trust treatment without an investment in prevention, then we have failed.”

Within Latin America, he carried out the most comprehensive study on the health impacts of improved cookstoves  in Guatemala. Currently, he was collaborating with the Panamerican Health Organization in the regional initiative for sustainable use of energy in rural and peri-urban homes.

He participated as a permanent advisor to the World Health Organization on issues of disease burden attributed to air pollution and had a relevant participation in the first meeting on air pollution held in Geneva. In Mexico, he collaborated in several studies of exposure to indoor air pollution in open fires in Chiapas and Michoacán. He also participated in projects to train monitors for studying the use of efficient cookstoves.

He was a pioneer addressing the impact of burning solid fuels for cooking on open fires in vulnerable regions within the Global South, as well as  researching the adverse health effects of prolonged exposure to pollutants resulting from these practices.

Dr. Kirk Smith had an important role to put the topic of indoor air pollution at the top of the global public health agenda

Besides being a brilliant researcher, Kirk Smith always had a kind, supportive and open way to relate with those who had the opportunity to meet and to collaborate with him. The Solid Biofuels Cluster  and GIEB-UNAM teams are commited to follow his legacy,  working on clean cooking alternatives to ensure universal access to healthy energy options on vulnerable households.

To learn more about Kirk Smith´s academic milestones, please visit this link:

Rest in peace.