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Dr. P Barry Ryan
Joseph W. Martin, Jr. Distinguished Alumni Award

From his earliest days as a school kid in North Attleboro, Dr. P. Barry Ryan knew one thing. He wanted to be a scientist. By the ripe old age of 10, he had already read nearly every childrens science book on the shelves of the Richards Memorial Library.

It was not, though, until he reached North Attleboro High School that a boyhood dream became a clear career aspiration. As a junior in the late Clint Johnson's chemistry class, Barry got his first taste of what he calls "real science." He decided by the end of that class that he would go to college and study chemistry. The course of his professional life's journey was charted.

Upon graduation, he travelled to Amherst where he had been accepted into the University of Massachusetts's highly-regard chemistry program. There an even clearer vision of his chosen career soon took shape: he wanted to pursue his Doctoral degree. Barry accelerated his studies, graduated early from UMass, and was on to the University of Chicago for one year, and then to Wesleyan University; after four years of study, he completed his Ph.D. in Computational Chemistry, combing his strong interest in applied mathematics with his passion for chemistry.

Soon after a brief stint at the University of Washington for post-doctoral studies, life and family called him back to New England, where he accepted a position with a Cambridge-based consulting firm founded by a Harvard professor. Within a year, he accepted that professor's invitation to join the research faculty at the Harvard University School of Public Health. He became as assistant professor of Environmental Health in 1985. After a few years passed, Barry was promoted to associate professor, and he began to be recruited by other prestigious schools of public health. In 1994, he accepted a position at Emory University’s new School of Public Health as a Professor of Exposure Assessment and Environmental Chemistry.

Over the past two-plus decades at Emory, Barry has become a nationally recognized figure in his field. He is today the Professor of Exposure Science and Environmental Chemistry in the Department of Environmental Health at Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health. He is nationally recognized for his work in the exposure assessment field, having published in excess of 115 peer-reviewed manuscripts and book chapters and having made over 200 presentations of his work to the scientific community. Among his many accomplishments are his study of exposure to pesticides experienced by individuals in a community in Northern Thailand, and his role as principal investigator on projects associated with the National Children's Study. Recently, he began work assessing exposure to airborne contaminants and noise in the community surrounding a commuter airport in metropolitan Atlanta.

Barry is a past member of the Board of Scientific Counselors for U.S. EPA's Office of Research and Development and a member of the US EPA Science Advisory Board Sub-Committee on Exposure and Human Health. He also spent four years on the Federal Advisory Committee for the National Children's Study being undertaken by the National Institutes of Health and has also served on several National Academy of Science panels.

Reflecting upon his considerable career success, Barry points to the single, and most important, overriding constant in his life and a driver of his success: his dear wife and NAHS classmate Pat Grimaldi whom he sat next to in Clint Johnson's science class; he spent half his junior year "working up the courage" to ask her on a date. Today, they are the parents of two children, Seamus and Katie, and one grandson, Conall.

Barry notes: "Raising two children with my best friend has been the most important and rewarding thing in my life. Science is great and gives me great satisfaction, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the work of growing two squawking infants into productive members of society. Still by my side and a more-than-equal partner is my wonderful wife, Pat. Forty-one years together as a married couple and I am thankful every day for her love, her company, and her guidance."