Earth System Science Center and Department of Atmospheric Science at The University of Alabama in Huntsville

Knupp Named UAH’s Top Researcher

This spring, you would want Kevin Knupp in your office PowerBall pool. It has been that kind of spring.

Earlier this spring the UA System trustees approved preliminary design specs for Knupp’s new $7 million Severe Weather Institute and Radar and Lightning Laboratory (SWIRLL), with final approval slated for June and groundbreaking soon after that.

In April, Knupp received the dean’s service award from UAH’s College of Science, in honor of his more than 25 years of contributions to the college’s teaching, research and service programs.

And in May? In May, Knupp was honored as UAHuntsville’s top researcher for the 2012-’13 academic year, an award that was presented at the university’s spring commencement ceremony. The distinguished research award is the highest research honor presented by the university.

A professor of atmospheric science, Knupp leads the university’s severe weather research group, studying lightning, tornadoes, thunderstorms, gust fronts, dry lines, land-falling hurricanes, topographic effects, blizzards and other such things.

Knupp received his Ph.D. in atmospheric science from Colorado State in 1985, the same year he came to UAH as a research scientist in what was then the Remote Sensing and Atmospheric Science Lab run by Dr. Dick McNider.

“It was a good hire,” says McNider. “I just remember that Kevin was chasing tornadoes before chasing tornadoes was cool.”

In the intervening years, Knupp has built a significant severe weather research operation at UAH. What began with a repurposed ambulance now includes several mobile pieces of state-of-the-art research hardware, including the Mobile Alabama X-band Radar (MAX), the Mobile Integrated Profiling System (MIPS) and a new boundary layer research platform (acronym to be named later).

“Alabama is fortunate to have a world class research unit looking at tornadoes and all things severe weather, and that research asset is here overwhelmingly because of Kevin’s efforts,” said Dr. John Christy, director of the Earth System Science Center.

A fellow of the American Meteorological Society, Knupp has advised and supported more than 20 graduate students to thesis or dissertation completion, has taught almost a dozen different courses and has won 38 research grants worth several millions of dollars from the National Science Foundation, NASA, NOAA and others.

“I have been impressed with Kevin’s strategic planning and leadership qualities,” said Dr. Sundar Christopher, chair of the Atmospheric Science Department. “His activities in no small way contributed to the atmospheric science academic and research program’s top ten ranking by the Chronicle of Higher Education in 2007. “

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