IRC Awards 2008 - Young Scientist Award

Dr. Ilan Koren

Ilan Koren

Dr. Ilan Koren has been awarded the IRC young scientist award for his remarkable contributions to the understanding of the interactions between atmospheric aerosols, clouds, and radiation, and for his amazingly simple way to see and interpret nature’s complex atmospheric processes.

Dr. Ilan Koren is only five years past his Ph.D. and already he consistently produces work that shakes the foundations of climate science and remote sensing. He has an uncanny knack of finding patterns in geophysical phenomena that have been staring us in the face for years, but lay dormant until Dr. Koren arrives to identify the significance for us.

Dr. Koren's has presented powerful evidence that heavy smoke in the Amazon inhibits cloud production [Koren et al., Science, 2004]. While everybody else was looking for subtle changes in cloud reflectance due to smoke-induced microphysical changes, Dr. Koren found a 'level 0' effect with an order of magnitude greater importance.

Many had been thinking of a kind of “twilight zone,” a continuum between a hydrated aerosol particles and liquid cloud drops. But Dr. Koren went further to identify it, quantify it, and to explain its significance [Koren et al., GRL, 2007].

Dr. Koren has an unconventional way of thinking about science that results in high impact research and results. Yet Dr. Koren has followed a conventional path in his career choices. He holds a tenure-track faculty position at one of the world's most prestigious research institutions, and has built a vibrant research group there of graduate students and post-docs. Most importantly Dr. Koren publishes frequently. He lists 25 publications in refereed journals, with all but five based on work subsequent to his Ph.D. in 2002, and four papers highlighted in Nature and Nature-Geoscience. Of these publications, three appear in high impact journals. His work receives a high citation rate. The 2004 Science paper alone has received 74 citations in less than four years. Another first author paper on aerosol invigoration of convection [Koren et al., GRL, 2005] has had less than 3 years to accumulate citations, and already has received 28.

I have never used the word 'genius' to describe a fellow researcher, but I am apt to label Ilan Koren as a genius. The label fits, not because of his intelligence, but on account of his creativity, his ability to identify issues of importance, to communicate results for broad understanding and commitment to mentoring students and service to the community at large. Ilan Koren is a rising scientific star. We expect that his influence will be felt throughout the climate and radiation world for years to come.