Arlene Blum

Biophysical Chemist, Author, Mountaineer

Arlene Blum PhD, biophysical chemist, author, and mountaineer is a Visiting Scholar at UC Berkeley’s Department of Chemistry, and executive director of the Green Science Policy Institute. The Institute brings peer-reviewed science into policy to reduce the use of toxic chemicals in consumer products and protect our health and environment.

Blum’s research and policy work has contributed to the prevention of the use of unneeded and toxic flame retardants in children’s sleepwear, furniture, bed coverings and electronics. She has taught at Stanford University, Wellesley College, and U. C. Berkeley,

Blum led the first American—and all-women’s—ascent of Annapurna I, considered one of the world’s most dangerous and difficult mountains, Blum also led the first women’s team up Mt. McKinley; was the first American woman to attempt Mt. Everest; made the first traverse of the Great Himalaya Range of Bhutan, Nepal and India; and hiked the length of the European Alps with her baby daughter Annalise on her back.

Blum’s awards include 2011 selection by the UK Guardian as one of the world’s 100 most inspirational women, a Purpose Prize to those over are 60 who are solving society’s greatest problems, National Women’s History Project selection as one of 100 “Women Taking the Lead to Save Our Planet” and a Gold Medal from the Society of Women Geographers, an honor previously given to only eight other women including Amelia Earhart, Margaret Mead, and Mary Leakey.

Her first book, Annapurna: A Woman’s Place was included in Fortune magazine’s 2005 list of “The 75 Smartest Business Books We Know” and chosen by National Geographic Adventure Magazine as one of the 100 top adventure books of all time. Her award-winning memoir, Breaking Trail: A Climbing Life tells the story of how Blum realized improbable dreams among the worlds’ highest mountains, in the chemistry laboratory, and in public policy.

Arlene Blum is the founder of the annual Berkeley Himalayan Fair and the Burma Village Assistance Project. She serves on the boards of Environmental Building News, ISET, an organization dedicated to solving climate, water and disaster problems in South Asia; the Society for the Preservation of Afghan Archeology; as well as the Advisory Boards for Project READ which builds libraries in Asia, and the Plastic Pollution Coalition.

More information at,