George L. Mellor

After earning his graduate and undergraduate degrees from M.I.T., George L. Mellor spent four years in industry working on gas turbines. He then came to Princeton in 1957 to join the faculty of the mechanical engineering department. He made very significant contributions to both teaching and research, which led to a better understanding of turbulent boundary layers. When the mechanical engineering department merged with the aeronautical engineering department, he continued his contributions in this new framework. A chance meeting, triggered by Professor Mellor’s technical papers, brought him into contact with the geophysical dynamics group of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. There he met Joe Smagorinsky who, many years earlier, had been at Princeton working with John Von Neumann on the first use of the digital computer for weather prediction. Professor Mellor and Dr. Smagorinsky found they shared much in common, and in a highly unusual move convinced the Department of Commerce, NOAA, and Princeton University (President Goheen, the trustees, and the faculty) to cooperate in a move of the geophysical fluid dynamics group to a new location at Princeton on the Forrestal Campus. The formal arrangements were signed in 1967, and by the 1968-69 academic year there was a graduate program associated with the new Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, with Professor Mellor serving as director. This was the initiation of a 25-year activity of research and teaching, students and visiting scientists, split between the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, which has had a major impact on the world of atmospheric and oceanic sciences.

Retirement will, for a while at least, not interfere with Professor Mellor’s many activities involving his students and his research in the Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. His formal teaching in the mechanical and aerospace engineering department will be sorely missed. His passion for sailing will still be “on the side,” but it is a major factor in Professor Mellor’s very “long term” plans.