Holben Receives 2015 Yoram J. Kaufman Unselfish Cooperation in Research Award

Brent Holben will receive the 2015 Yoram J. Kaufman Unselfish Cooperation in Research Award at the 2015 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, to be held 14–18 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award recognizes “broad influence in atmospheric science through exceptional creativity, inspiration of younger scientists, mentoring, international collaborations, and unselfish cooperation in research.”


The American Geophysical Union (AGU) Atmospheric Sciences section is pleased to present the 2015 Yoram Kaufman Unselfish Collaboration for Research Award to Brent Holben of the Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA, for “his seminal theoretical and experimental contributions to the remote sensing of clouds and aerosol properties, particularly in the development of AERONET.” Brent’s vision and pioneering work led to the creation of the AERONET (Aerosol Robotic Network) project in which a worldwide network of Sun/sky radiometers enabled observations of the aerosol optical thickness, size distribution, and refractive index at numerous sites around the world. AERONET is the first and continues to be the only global network of ground-based aerosol measurements, embraced and supported by countries and scientists throughout the world. Throughout his illustrious career, Brent has taken special pride in working with students and collaborating with a large number of scientists in Europe, the United States, South America, Africa, and Asia. He has published journal articles with over 700 different scientists, including scientists from more than 50 countries. As of March 2015, he has 27,970 article citations, with an h-index of 79, and his work has penetrated the communities of ground-based and satellite remote sensing of aerosol properties. Among his 372 publications to date, his singular AERONET overview paper of 1998 has garnered over 2420 citations alone—a rare record in the field of geosciences.

The following statements from one supporting letter succinctly summarize Brent’s spirit of unselfish collaboration: “Brent has always been exceedingly generous with his time, with his knowledge and with his resources. … I was a recipient of Brent’s mentoring and encouragement, even through some tough times.” Another supporting letter stated, “It is beyond my imagination what formidable tasks Brent has faced in establishing and operating all of these AERONET sites for the past two decades. The most challenging among all tasks is undoubtedly countless travels required to set up, inspect and trouble-shoot any problems that arise.”

We are extremely pleased to present the 2015 Kaufman Award to Brent Holben.

—William K. M. Lau, University of Maryland, College Park, MD



It is indeed a great honor for me to receive the Kaufman Award. I worked with Yoram, who shared his intellect, insight, and unbridled curiosity with all he touched. For me, this honor is an opportunity to recognize the very large and diverse community that shaped my oftentimes circuitous career through their generous cooperation. My work is most easily road-marked by the ground-based Aerosol Robotic Network (AERONET). Although I can’t possibly acknowledge all those who influenced my career, I would like to cite a few here, including my older brother, Rick, who blazed the path from farm to academia. My colleague Compton Tucker inspires science with art, humor, and friendship. Robert S. Fraser, a pioneer in the field of aerosol remote sensing, spent endless hours with me shaping my early understanding of remote sensing science at NASA. Yoram, from the Goddard Space Flight Center, and Didier Tanré, from Laboratoire d’Optique Atmosphérique (LOA), were ever present in the formative years of AERONET, and indeed, LOA remains an integral part of the global AERONET program today. The AERONET folks at Goddard are brilliant and dedicated, led by Tom Eck and Ilya Slutsker, who have been with the program from the beginning. Michael King, from the Earth Observing System (EOS) Project Science Office, provided the resources, intellect, and autonomy to allow the project to grow to a global resource for the remote sensing community. Thus, my job was simple: use AERONET to understand aerosol properties for satellite validation. The project expanded, the collaborations grew, and research flourished. I have been extremely fortunate to be affiliated with NASA, researchers, educators, students, and movers of various types in over 80 countries. It is those people who have participated with me, the AERONET program, and like-minded researchers across the globe to foster aerosol research for the benefit of all. It is in recognition of those people that I humbly accept this honor inspired by Yoram and as a tribute to his legacy of selfless cooperation.

—Brent Holben, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD