Later Life And Honors For Clair Patterson

Clair Patterson passed away in 1995 and is now remembered for his work on discovering the age of the Earth and for his fight against the use of lead in consumer products.  At the time of his death, he was a professor of geochemistry at Caltech.  After his death the C.C. Patterson Award was created in his honor.  This award is given annually by the Geochemical Society to recognize people who make a significant breakthrough in environmental geochemistry and also do a service to society in the form of an outstanding contribution or a series of scientific papers.

During his life, Patterson had received many honors as well.  In 1975, Patterson received the J. Lawrence Smith Medal from the National Academy of Sciences, which is awarded every three years to investigators of meteoric bodies, which Patterson studied during his research on the age of the Earth.  In 1981, he was also awarded the Professional Achievement Award from the University of Chicago for his work with the university.  In 1987, Patterson was elected to become a member of the National academy of Sciences, and both an asteroid and a peak in Antarctica were named for him.

Clair Patterson’s award from the American Geochemical Society

Patterson also held honorary degrees from the University of Paris and Grinnell College.  In 1995, he was awarded the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement.  Patterson received this award for his study and research of the chemistry of natural lead in the environment and for his work on the investigation on the effect of lead contamination which resulted from human activity.  Without the work of Clair Patterson, the world may never have known the age of the Earth, and worse, may have continued to be destroyed by the effects of lead pollution.