Merlis Receives the 2014 James R. Holton Junior Scientist Award

Timothy M. Merlis received the 2014 James R. Holton Junior Scientist Award at the 2014 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, held 15–19 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.”


Merlis_Tim-Holton_Award_SIZEDThe Atmospheric Sciences section of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) awards the 2014 James R. Holton Junior Scientist Award to Timothy M. Merlis. Dr. Merlis is an assistant professor at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Dr. Merlis is an atmospheric and climate dynamicist who works on baroclinic instability, the dynamics of extrasolar planets, tropical circulation, volcanic eruptions, and global hurricane frequency.

Timothy Merlis’s accomplishments can best be described by quoting from his nomination letters. “Tim Merlis ranks at or very near the top of his age group in atmospheric science. His contributions to date are first-rate and are among the very best papers in our field over the last decade. His work is marked by an excellent choice of questions to pose and issues to address, a meticulous but creative approach to addressing these issues, and a clear and effective writing and speaking style. He is both broad and deep.” “Tim is the best recent graduate in atmosphere/ocean physics I know. His versatility and familiarity both with large-scale dynamics and mesoscale dynamics is unmatched by anyone else I know at a similar career stage.”

“The common thread to all of his papers is his extraordinary ability to isolate simple physical mechanisms within very complex dynamical systems. In most cases, he has done so by performing elegant numerical simulations with idealized models.” “The breadth of his research interests, together with his desire to tackle fundamental questions, his rigorous thinking, his creativity and originality, all make Tim a truly exceptional young scientist, who promises to be an intellectual leader in his generation.”

For these reasons, the AGU Atmospheric Sciences section is proud to award the 2014 Holton Award to Timothy Merlis.

—Alan Robock, Rutgers University, New Brunswick



am grateful to receive the AGU Atmospheric Science section’s James R. Holton Junior Scientist Award. It is excellent to receive the award in the same years as Elizabeth Barnes, whose research I admire.

This is a wonderful opportunity to acknowledge the support from which I have benefitted greatly. My advisors, Tapio Schneider and Isaac Held, have played an invaluable role in my development. The time I spent as a Ph.D. student with Tapio was truly exceptional. Beyond his scientific insights, Tapio guided my growth in all aspects of the profession. I am deeply appreciative of Isaac’s thoughtful scientific advising. It has been wonderful to discuss a wide range of ideas with him.

I am grateful to the group of early career scientists with whom I have had the opportunity to extensively discuss research and other important topics. I treasure interacting with Paul O’Gorman, Simona Bordoni, Yohai Kaspi, Ian Eisenman, Xavier Levine, Gretchen Keppel-Aleks, Nicole Feldl, and others. I also thank the senior scientists who have generously spent time supporting me: Adam Sobel, George Philander, and Kerry Emanuel, among others.

Last, I thank Shanon Fitzpatrick and the rest of my family.

—Timothy M. Merlis, McGill University, Montreal, Canada