Alumna of the Year 2017 nominee profile: Helen ApSimon, Northampton High School

Helen ApSimon CBE is Professor of Air Pollution Studies at Imperial College London. Her research has led her into studying the effects of nuclear accidents, acid rain, excess tropospheric ozone and fine particulate concentration.

Air pollution is one of the main contributors of chest and bronchial infections leading to premature death across the globe. Helen is among a relatively small number of female scientists who are globally recognised as leaders in their field and her work and membership of EU and UN bodies has had a significant impact on improving human health and ecosystems.

Throughout her career, she has worked extensively in Europe and chaired the European Association for the Science of Air Pollution (EURASAP). As a young scientist, she witnessed the damage on forests caused by the thoughtless siting of energy intensive industries in Eastern Europe which strengthened her determination to make air pollution her life work.

Helen co-founded the Air Pollution Research in London (APRIL) network, helping to flag up air quality blackspots in the capital. She has been a member of the UN ECE Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution, and is on the Air Expert Group of DEFRA and the Airborne Particles Expert Group.

Helen was also a member of the expert panel of the Airports Commission which studied the UK’s long-term aviation capacity, and where investment should be made. Its report relied heavily on the impact any investment would have on air quality and the environment.

Her work is highly interdisciplinary, linking science and policy development.

Helen is an alumna of Northampton High School.