Sensing Change: Ronald C. Cohen

Interview conducted as part of the Institute’s yearlong Sensing Change initiative exploring the interconnections between art, science, and our changing environment.

Ronald C. Cohen is the director of the Berkeley Atmospheric Sciences Center and a professor of chemistry and of earth and planetary sciences at the University of California, Berkeley. Cohen’s work in atmospheric chemistry focuses on various issues that influence the fundamental processes affecting our air and climate, and is united by his group’s development of techniques and instrumentation that provide new methods to track previously unobserved or poorly quantified chemicals found in our atmosphere.

What can we [ask] now that will still be an important science question four or eight years from now?

—Ronald C. Cohen

Sometimes the hardest part of an experiment is designing the instrument. Ron Cohen says a good job means walking away. 

Ron Cohen ponders how scientists can share their findings by showing rather than telling.

How does science affect policy? Ron Cohen speaks about changes in air-quality regulation over the last few decades. 

How do nitrogen oxides—which are produced by fossil-fuel combustion as well as from soil emissions and wildfires—affect the way nitrogen cycles and ozone and aerosol are formed? How do cities consume energy and resources, and how can we determine when air might be of poor quality or how to introduce policy to improve the air? What role do aerosols play in our changing environment? How and where do clouds form, and what can that information tell us about our climate? Cohen tackles these questions in global field studies.

Learn more about Cohen and his research:


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