Dwyer (Ph.D. '14) Wins 2015 Simon Prize

This year’s Simon Prize for Best Dissertation goes to Dr. John Dwyer who is currently an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at MIT.    

The Simon Prize Award Ceremony and Reception will take place on Monday, May 18, 2015, at 1:30 PM, in the APAM Department, room 200 Mudd.

Dr. Dwyer earned his B.A. in Physics and Mathematics from Columbia University in 2007. While an undergraduate he was a member of the LIGO scientific collaboration, joining other astrophysicists in the search for gravitational waves. Before returning to Columbia, Dr. Dwyer earned a M.S. in Physics from the University of California, San Diego, where he became interested in climate and atmospheric science.

He conducted his doctoral studies under the supervision of Professor Adam Sobel and Michela Biasutti, Lamont Associate Research Professor. His dissertation was titled: “Projected Changes in the Annual Cycle of Surface Temperature and Precipitation Due to Greenhouse Gas Increases.” This dissertation investigates the causes of changes in seasonality in temperature and precipitation that are simulated by climate models in response to greenhouse gases. These seasonality changes manifest as a delayed onset of monsoonal precipitation in the tropics and greater warming in winter than in summer at high latitudes. By using a diagnostic analysis Dwyer’s research is able to identify mechanisms that apply to high latitudes and in the tropics. This work has resulted in several publications in top US climate science journals.

"Working with John has been a great experience. In his thesis, he tackled a complex question: how rainfall seasonality changes under greenhouse gas forcing. John had the determination, the creativity, and the smarts to employ many tools to elucidate the dynamical mechanisms behind this phenomenon. His work has won him the respect of senior scientists and young colleagues alike. That, plus his easy way with people, his kindness and trustworthiness convince me that John will soon be a leader in his field. I could not be more proud."
- Michela Biasutti

"John is smart, creative, technically skilled, and he works very hard. In the course of his Ph.D. he became remarkably independent, in the way that the very best Ph.D. students do. He figured out on his own how to do things technically; but more importantly, he formulated the basic questions and hypotheses that determine the next steps on his own. The result of this is that in his thesis, he was able to make a number of fundamental advances on the difficult climate dynamics problem that Michela and I set for him when he arrived here. In short, he has become a mature scientist, able to design and execute his own research projects. He is eminently deserving of the Simon Prize, and I'm thrilled that the department has seen fit to award it to him. In his postdoc at MIT and beyond, I expect to see him emerge soon as one of the young leaders in the fields of climate and atmospheric science."
- Adam Sobel

The Robert Simon Memorial Prize is awarded annually by the APAM Department to the graduate student who has completed the most outstanding dissertation.

Robert Simon (December 25, 1919–February 11, 2001) received a B.A. degree cum laude in classics from the City College of New York in 1941, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and an M.A. in mathematics from Columbia University in 1949. Between 1941 and 1944, Mr. Simon was a lieutenant in the United States Armed Forces serving in England, France, and Italy. He participated in the D-Day operation as a navigator for a plane that dropped paratroopers in the vicinity of Omaha Beach. General Dwight Eisenhower personally shook his hand and wished him well the night before the D-Day assault.

Mr. Simon, who was born and lived in New York City, spent a lifetime making valuable contributions to the field of computer science. Starting in 1953, he worked for 15 years at Sperry's Univac Division in various capacities including marketing, planning, systems engineering, systems programming, and information services. He also spent a year working at the Fairchild Engine Division as director of the Engineering Computer Group. He personally directed the establishment of several company computer centers at sites throughout the United States. Between 1969 and 1973, he was a partner with American Science Associates, a venture capital firm. Mr. Simon was a founder and vice president of Intech Capital Corporation and served on its board from 1972 to 1981 and a founder and member of the board of Leasing Technologies International, Inc. from 1983 until his retirement in 1995.

The prize was established in 2001 by Dr. Jane Faggen with additional support from friends and relatives of Mr. Simon.




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