By Roberta Millstein
On Saturday, a packed St. James Catholic Church paid their respects to one of Davis’s most esteemed and well-loved sons, Dr. Thomas Cahill, better known to his friends and family as “Tom.”
Tom’s achievements were many; they are outlined in the obituary in the Davis Enterprise. What most impresses me about his record was his dedication to doing science that mattered. Trained as a nuclear astrophysicist, he quickly turned to the issue of air quality in California and was one of the small team that successfully advocated for the lead- and sulfur-free gasoline in the early 1970s. His work on air quality continued throughout his career, even after his “retirement,” working on ultra-fine aerosols (including their impact on first-responders to the 9/11 World Trade Center attack) and aerosol impacts on global climate.
A few years ago, I was visiting at another university and met another faculty member who worked on air quality. I asked him if he had heard of Tom Cahill. The answer? “Of course, yes! Tom is the person to talk to about air quality issues.”