Penn’s Douglas Jerolmack First Recipient of Luna B Leopold Young Scientist Award

PHILADELPHIA -- Douglas Jerolmack, a professor of earth and environmental science at the University of Pennsylvania, has won the American Geophysical Union’s first Luna B. Leopold Young Scientist Award.  Established in 2009 by AGU’s Earth and Planetary Surface Processes focus group, the award honors geomorphologist and hydrologist Luna B. Leopold.  

Jerolmack’s research focuses on the spatial and temporal evolution of patterns that emerge at the interface of fluid and sediment on Earth and planetary surfaces.

The Luna B. Leopold young Scientist Award is given to a scientist within five years of earning a Ph.D or equivalent degree to recognize a “significant and outstanding contribution that advances the field of Earth and planetary surface processes.”

The award citation hails Jerolmack’s signal contribution “to show how concepts from nonlinear dynamics can be used to construct new kinds of predictive models of pattern formation on Earth and planetary surfaces.” 

During his graduate research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Jerolmack developed a novel model for river dune dynamics.  At the grain scale, he advanced understanding of wind-based transport mechanics, while at a larger scale he contributed new ideas on channel pattern and fan formation; both approaches were applied to better under paleoenvironmental conditions on Mars.

His work also shows how internally generated variability in landscapes can destroy high frequency environmental signals and the quantification of how river channels fill space to build deltas.

This summer Jerolmack and postdoctoral researcher Federico Falcini are studying controls on the movement of oil resulting from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico with funding from an NSF Rapid Response grant.