Meteorologist Carl-Gustaf Rossby is examined as a mentor. In order to evaluate him, the mentor–protégé concept is discussed with the benefit of existing literature on the subject and key examples from the recent history of science. In addition to standard source material, oral histories and letters of reminiscence from approximately 25 former students and associates have been used.
The study indicates that Rossby expected an unusually high degree of independence on the part of his protégés, but that he was exceptional in his ability to engage the protégés on an intellectual basis—to scientifically excite them on issues of importance to him. Once they were entrained, however, Rossby was not inclined to follow their work closely.
He surrounded himself with a cadre of exceptional teachers who complemented his own heuristic style, and he further used his influence to establish a steady stream of first-rate visitors to the institutes. In this environment that bristled with ideas and discourse, the protégés thrived.
A list of Rossby's protégés and the titles of their doctoral dissertations are also included.