RTI International Distinguished Fellow receives North Carolina Award, state’s highest honor

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC— Gov. Roy Cooper honored RTI International scientist and Distinguished Fellow R. K. M. Jayanty (emeritus) with the state’s highest achievement at the 2017 North Carolina Awards ceremony in Raleigh.

As the award’s recipient for science, Jayanty was celebrated for his pioneering work in air pollution monitoring and control. The other honorees were in the fields of literature, fine arts and public service.

“Dr. Jay’s research has impacted the lives of countless numbers of people in North Carolina and around the world,” said RTI President and CEO Wayne Holden, Ph.D. “His dedication to improving the human condition through research into one of the world’s most challenging problems – pollution in the air we breathe – coupled with his commitment to RTI over nearly four decades, has made an incalculable contribution to our scientific stature.”

Jayanty was born in 1946 in a small village in India. As a boy, he was so sick from malnutrition that he couldn’t attend school until the age of eight. At a time when higher education was rare among his peers, Jayanty received advanced degrees in chemistry and engineering from Andhra University (India), the University of Bradford (England) and Pennsylvania State University (United States).

In 1978, Jayanty took a chemist position at RTI and has since risen to the position of Distinguished Fellow, a role reserved for individuals who have distinguished themselves through scientific accomplishments that have had a significant impact on RTI and society.

For more than 35 years, Jayanty has significantly advanced the state-of-the art measurement of toxic pollutants in multimedia environments. His work has enabled the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other regulatory agencies to meet important regulatory goals, provided the scientific basis for international adoption of these methodologies for use in pollution-control programs and protected human health and the environment. Jayanty’s research data on fine particulate matter and volatile organic compounds in the atmosphere are used worldwide to determine compliance and enforcement strategies with the national ambient air quality standards and to develop control strategies.

His work has also contributed to the improvement of North Carolina’s air quality through his service on the NC Science Advisory Board, which led to the regulation, control and reduction of 21 toxic air pollutants and fine particulates in the state. International journal citations include statements like the following: “Without his efforts to develop state-of-the-art methods to detect toxic air pollutants, business and government would have very little success in measuring and achieving reductions in atmospheric organic chemical emissions.” 

Jayanty has published more than 150 journal articles and presentations and several book chapters. The American Chemical Society gave him the Award for the Creative Advances in Science and Technology in 2000 and the Southern Chemist Award in 2012. He received the Life Achievement Award for the Institute of Environmental Practices in 2010. Past honors include the prestigious Frank A. Chambers Award for his contributions to the science and art of air pollution control in 1991 and the 1996 North Carolina Distinguished Chemist Award for his service to society.

“As a young chemist in the Research Triangle in the 1970s, Jayanty followed his passion for science into the burgeoning field of environmental engineering,” said Gov. Cooper at Thursday’s ceremony. “His work identifying and measuring volatile organic compounds and other pollutants has informed standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and has resulted in better air quality around the world.”

Created by the General Assembly in 1961, the North Carolina Awards have been presented annually since 1964. Two other RTI scientists, Mansukh Wani and Ivy Carroll, received North Carolina Awards in 2005 and 2010, respectively.

(L-R): James Woodward, Governor Roy Cooper, Philip Freelon, Margaret Bauer, Jane Smith Patterson, Loretta Lynch, R.K.M. Jayanty, NC Dept. of Natural and Cultural Resources Secretary Susi Hamilton


NC Awards 2017 R.K.M. Jayanty