Diffenbaugh Receives 2006 James R. Holton Junior Scientist Award

Noah Diffenbaugh received the James R. Holton Junior Scientist Award at the 2006 AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco, Calif. The award recognizes outstanding research contributions by a junior atmospheric scientist within 3 years of his or her Ph.D.


diffenbaugh_noahNoah Diffenbaugh is a truly interdisciplinary geoscientist who has already made significant contributions to the field of highresolution climate modeling. His interests are varied and include climate/carbon dioxide/vegetation interactions, the response of extreme temperatures and precipitation events as well as the response of eastern boundary current regions to anthropogenic radiative forcing, mechanisms of Holocene climate variability, and the potential impacts of future climate on human systems. An outcome of his climate studies is the discouraging prognosis for U.S., especially California, viticulture and enology in light of anticipated global warming. Noah is at the forefront of computational high-resolution climate modeling, which will become an essential tool for policy planners by providing details that cannot be simulated by global models.

In the relatively short time that he has been at Purdue, Noah has played a critical role in developing our interdisciplinary program, including the establishment of a climate change research center. His contributions to date and his anticipated innovative work on the impacts of climate change on phytonatural and human systems make him an ideal recipient of the James R. Holton Junior Scientist Award.

Harshvardhan, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana


I am deeply honored to receive this award. I hold AGU in the highest regard, and I am particularly honored that it comes from the Atmospheric Sciences Section. My interests are rather eclectic, and I often wonder if I actually am an atmospheric scientist! It is also very inspiring and very humbling that the award bears James Holton’s name. One of my students keeps a copy of An Introduction to Dynamic Meteorology just to the left of his keyboard—I see it nearly every day.

I have been very fortunate in my short career to have a number of fantastic mentors, including my Ph.D. advisor Lisa Sloan, Paul Koch, Patrick Bartlein, and Filippo Giorgi. They have all provided excellent guidance, have been more than generous with so many resources, and above all have been great collaborators. I have also been fortunate to have a number of other outstanding colleagues and collaborators—many of whom I first met at the AGU Fall Meeting—and these interactions are ultimately what make this job so much fun. Further, I have received tremendous support at Purdue University, which has provided a fantastic platform for pursuing my intellectual interests.

I feel extremely blessed to be an Earth scientist. In spite of all of its challenges, Earth really is a beautiful planet! As scientists, we are very lucky to have the freedom to ask questions, to pursue the answers, to be proven right, to be proven wrong. For me there is no greater professional thrill than viewing the results of an experiment for the first time. It can be a brutally humbling job, but that society affords us the opportunity to feel this thrill on a daily basis is a great privilege.

It is daunting that an award given at such an early stage bears the name of someone whose career was as exceptional as Holton’s. I thank the Section for this great honor, and I hope I can live up to it!

Noah Diffenbaugh, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana