The ocean modeling and prediction community lost lost one of the most influential and ground breaking mentors on September 25, 2009. He was 77. Born in Lynn, Massachusetts, Robinson was a pioneer of theoretical and numerical ocean modeling, making major contributions to fundamental physical and interdisciplinary ocean science and dynamics. He earned his B.A. (mcl), M.A., and Ph.D. degrees, all in physics from Harvard. He was Gordon McKay Professor of Geophysical Fluid Dynamics, Emeritus, at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences (EPS) in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS).
I met Allan in 1990 when I went to Harvard University as a Post-doctoral fellow where I contributed to the further development and maintenance of the Harvard Ocean Prediction System (HOPS). The HOPS framework was his long time carrier dream. It is the product of many graduate students, post-docs, and research scientists for several decades. It was the first system to be used in real-time ocean prediction at sea. Real-time prediction was one of his passions. I also remember his passion for great food, wine, and grappa. He introduced me to the wonderful world of fine Italian grappa.
Here is what Pierre Lermusiaux (MIT), one of his last graduate students, wrote about Allan:
Allan R. Robinson was one of the founding fathers of Geophysical Fluid Dynamics. He made seminal contributions to fundamental physical and interdisciplinary ocean science and dynamics. He was one of the pioneers of theoretical and numerical ocean modeling. He was an early leader of modern ocean predictions and data assimilation. He guided generations of students, post-doctoral fellows and research scientists, enabling them to also make their own significant contributions to science and engineering. He led numerous national and international research programs and committees. He was driven by a passionate pursuit of quantitative understanding of the sea. He will be sorely missed by his peers, colleagues, friends and family.