Photo of Professor Lee-Or Merkine

Professor Lee-Or Merkine

1944-1989

Professor Lee-Or Merkine one of the leading figures in Applied Mathematics in Israel, and a Professor of Mathematics at the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, passed away on June 15, 1989, at the age of 45, after an awesome struggle with cancer of the lymph system.

Lee-Or was a native of Tel-Aviv, received his B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering at the Technion in 1966, and completed his M.Sc. studies under the supervision of A. Solan in 1970, while on active service.

His M.Sc. thesis on mass transfer in turbulent pipe flow with suction first introduced him to complex flow fields. He did his Ph.D. work at Brown University with J.T.C. Liu, on the modeling of waves in turbulent and shear flows. His postdoctoral work at M.I.T. in 1974-76 with the late J.G. Charney firmly put him on the road to mathematical modeling of wave phenomena in geophysical flows, and in the atmosphere in particular.

Lee-Or joined the Faculty of Mathematics at Technion in 1976, and was promoted to Full-Professor in 1988.

During the years 1983-85 he served as Chairman of the Interdisciplinary Committee on Applied Mathematics at Technion. He was a Visiting Scientist at the Universities of MIT and Brown and at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey.

Lee-Or's research centered on hydrodynamic stability of rotating flows in the atmosphere and on rotating flows past obstacles. He was famous for his analysis of convective and absolute instabilities in baroclinic and barotropic flows. His last research on the instability of weakly non-parallel flows, with applications to the Jet Stream, was the subject of prolonged discussions in the 1989 IUTAM meeting. This last work is particularly exciting as it introduces a completely new possible mechanism for the creation of instabilities in atmospheric flows.

Professor Merkine was on the Editional Board of one of the leading Journals in his field; Geophysical and Astrophysical Fluid Dynamics. The Journal issued a special issue in his memory (GAFD, 58, 1-320, 1991).

Lee-Or was a gifted analyst and a born scholar, firmly dedicated to his chosen field. He was a wise and honest man. He demanded from himself, his students and colleagues high standards and would not compromise. He was a true champion of pure, sharply focused precise research and of Science. He made no bones about his opinions, but did it with true conviction in his way, and we all respected him immensely for it.

He was a true friend.

It was extremely hard for us to learn that at the peak of his career he was struck down. He had just been promoted to Full Professor, and was informed by the Naval Postgraduate School at Monterey that he would be the holder of the H.G. Haltinar Chair in Atmospheric Sciences, as Researcher Professor, for 1988/89. Lee-Or left for Monterey, but had to return shortly after to be treated at Hadassa Hospital.

Lee-Or and his wife Etti, are for us a shining example of valor, courage and devotion. His untimely death is a great loss to all of us and especially to me, for whom he was my closest friend.

He is survived by his wife, Etti, his children Rahaf and Vered, his parents and his sister.

Nadav Liron