Bollasina Receives 2013 James R. Holton Junior Scientist Award

Massimo A. Bollasina received the James R. Holton Junior Scientist Award at the 2013 AGU Fall Meeting, held 9–13 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award recognizes “outstanding research contributions by a junior atmospheric scientist within three years of his or her Ph.D.”


bollasina_massimo-aDr. Massimo Bollasina, a postdoctoral scholar at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Lab (GFDL) through the Princeton University Atmospheric and Ocean Science Visitors Program, is this year’s recipient of the James R. Holton Junior Scientist Award from AGU’s Atmospheric Sciences section, named after a pioneer in atmospheric dynamics, the late James R. Holton of the University of Washington. Since its inception in 2004, the Holton Award has become a highly sought honor. It recognizes the achievements and potential of a junior AGU member whose Ph.D. was awarded within 3 years of the nomination deadline.

Dr. Bollasina received his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (AOSC) Department in 2010 under the direction of Professor Sumant Nigam. His thesis, entitled “Surface and Aerosol Effects on the South Asian Monsoon Hydroclimate,” won every award in the AOSC Department, including a Green Fund Foundation Fellowship for “his passion, excellence, and achievements in doctoral research,” to quote a letter from the University of Maryland in College Park. The thesis led to six peer-reviewed publications.

Since the Ph.D., Dr. Bollasina has continued in the general area of land-aerosol-precipitation interactions with a focus on tropical rainfall. To quote from one of Dr. Bollasina’s nominating letters, “At GFDL…he has carried out breakthrough studies on how aerosols and greenhouse gases, two of the man-made climate-altering agents, affect regional climate…The first-author paper (2011, Science, 334, 502–505) finds that anthropogenic aerosols, not long-lived greenhouse gases, are the major causal factor in the observed decrease of the summer monsoon rainfall in northern India over the last few decades of the 20th century. That paper was honored with the highly competitive World Meteorological Organization Norbert Gerbier MUMM International Award.”

In summary, Dr. Bollasina is an innovative scientist who has made and will continue to make important contributions to monsoon dynamics and climate effects of aerosols. Dr. Bollasina is a future leader who is injecting fresh atmospheric dynamics—Holton’s legacy—into the challenge of regional climate change research.

—ANNE THOMPSON, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.


I am deeply honored to have been selected as this year’s recipient of the James R. Holton Junior Scientist Award, and I receive it with heartfelt gratitude and humility. I clearly remember Peter Webster’s call announcing the amazing news and how I literally remained speechless and overwhelmed. I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the Atmospheric Sciences section of AGU and the members of the award committee. I am even more appreciative to have been presented this award handed by two outstanding scientists—Peter Webster and Bill Lau—who have remarkably contributed to our understanding of the Asian monsoon and tropical climate, my area of expertise.

I am truly grateful to the many people who have contributed to my growth. Among them, the late John Roads, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, who genuinely shared his enthusiasm and passion during my early years; Sumant Nigam, my thesis advisor, for his constant and invaluable guidance and support; Yi Ming and V. Ramaswamy, my postdoctoral supervisors, who generously helped me to grow as a scientist and with whom I am happy to share unforgettable years; many colleagues and friends at GFDL, for their precious help and advice and for introducing me to exciting research areas; my family, for being close to me every moment.

I did not have the privilege to meet Jim Holton personally. However, he has undoubtedly left an outstanding and indelible memory across our field and, even more so, in those who have known him. Receiving the award named in his honor is an incredible source of inspiration and encouragement for me.

I hope to live up to the excitement and excellence embodied by this award in my new appointment as a faculty member at the University of Edinburgh.

—MASSIMO A. BOLLASINA, School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK