Kim Receives 2012 James R. Holton Junior Scientist Award

Daehyun Kim received the James R. Holton Junior Scientist Award at the 2012 AGU Fall Meeting, held 3–7 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award recognizes outstanding research contributions by a junior atmospheric scientist within 3 years of his or her Ph.D.


KimDaehyun Kim, the winner of the James R. Holton Junior Scientist Award, works on intraseasonal variability (especially the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO)) and deep convection, including convective parameterization and climate model development. Although only receiving his Ph.D. 2 years ago, he has published 21 papers in high-quality journals.

His accomplishments can best be described by quoting from his nomination letters. “I would argue that Daehyun has done as much as any other single individual (at any career stage) in the last few years to push forward our understanding of the MJO using GCMs.” “His work is distinguished from that of others in the field by two things. First, Daehyun is able to get into a model—including into the guts of the parameterizations—and manipulate it with great facility. He is also unparalleled at model diagnosis and analysis.” “This kind of deep analysis is needed if we are to learn about the atmosphere from flawed models—and when we study the MJO, all models are flawed.”

“Simply put, Daehyun is a scientific phenomenon. He is one of those rare individuals who possess keen scientific insight as well as the boundless enthusiasm and energy to carry out his ideas. We could tell that Daehyun was someone special when he took it upon himself to lead development of the MJO Diagnostics package of the CLIVAR [Climate Variability and Predictability] MJO Working Group as a student. This comprehensive package is considered the gold standard for MJO diagnosis. Amazingly, he did this project on the side while developing a convection parameterization for his Ph.D. research.” “I consider Daehyun to be the best young scientist to enter the field of tropical meteorology in the last few years, and I feel fortunate to have interacted with him.”

“After arriving at Columbia, Daehyun made it a point to learn the gory details of our GCM [general circulation model] so he could design and implement his own improvements. Almost no one ever has the tenacity and insight to do this successfully with GCMs except the people who build them and run them. To paraphrase the old saying—everyone always complains about climate models but nobody ever does anything about them. Daehyun was the exception—he did something.”

“The energy and fundamental insights Daehyun brings to any problem he tackles, combined with his tremendous intellectual curiosity and a humility that too few scientists exhibit, account for the steep arc his career has taken.”

“Daehyun Kim is really a prototype for the 21st-century leader in the climate community. There are not many tropical meteorologists (of any age) who can translate theoretical insights into practical approaches that actually make climate models more realistic.”

For these reasons, the AGU Atmospheric Sciences section is proud to award the 2012 James R. Holton Junior Scientist Award to Daehyun Kim.

Alan Robock, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N. J.


It is my great honor to be selected as a recipient of the James R. Holton Junior Scientist Award by AGU. I appreciate AGU and the award committee for the award. I first saw Professor Holton’s name on his famous textbook when I was an undergraduate student. I remember his book made me think that atmospheric science was fun. I personally regard the prestigious award given to me as an encouraging message from the society, and I also feel that I have to pay back to the society in any way I can.

I should acknowledge the names of people who have heavily influenced my research career. I know the award would not be mine if I had not met these people: In-Sik Kang, my thesis advisor, who taught me how to live as a scientist; Adam Sobel and Tony Del Genio, my postdoc advisors, who broadened my view on science and provided me with endless opportunity; and Duane Waliser, Ken Sperber, Eric Maloney, Chidong Zhang, and other scientists in the U.S. CLIVAR MJO Working Group, who have continuously helped me and encouraged me since I was a graduate student. Finally, I would like to mention the two women I love the most: my wife Mijung Lim and my daughter Irene Kim. Thank you.

—Daehyun Kim, Columbia University, Palisades, N. Y.