Juan Alejandro Valdivia was awarded the F. L. Scarf Award for his thesis entitled “The Physics of High Altitude Lightning.” He will be formally presented during the AGU 1998 Fall Meeting in San Francisco, California, December 6–10,1998. The award is given annually to a recent Ph.D. recipient for outstanding dissertation research that contributes directly to solar-planetary science.
Valdivia's interests in science, astronomy, and physics began as a child in Chile, when besides playing soccer, he had the chance to routinely observe the southern sky with his father's telescope. When he finished high school he decided to take the opportunity to study physics in Washington, D.C., since during that time his mother was assigned at the International Monetary Fund. Very soon he realized that he had brought interests that enticed him to pursue majors in physics, in astronomy, and in mathematics. Upon completion of the three majors, he started graduate school in physics at the University of Maryland. After working on different subjects, always encouraged and supported by his advisors, he wrote his Ph.D. thesis under the supervision of Dennis Papadopoulos, Surja Sharma, and Gennady Milikh. After obtaining his Ph.D., Juan went to work at NASA Goddard with a NR Fellowship with Alexander Klimas and Dimitrios Vassiliadis on nonlinear dynamics in space physics.