I was born to my parents, Alexander and Susonya Vigh, on August 12, 1977 in Tappahannock, Virginia. I was delivered by my father, who happens to be an obstetrician. After spending seven months there, none of which I remember, my family and I moved to Lexington, Kentucky. It was in the 60's the day we moved, but a blizzard hit the next day (Jan. 1978), dropping a foot of snow, initiating my family into the vagaries of Kentucky weather. Our family was enlarged a year and a half later when my sister, Andrea, was born on Nov. 10, 1978.
These are my parents riding the subway in Buffalo in 2001. They look quite thrilled to be riding the subway.
Shortly after turning 7, I attended Lexington Junior Academy for my elementary education, being taught by Judy Shull for grades 1-4, Pete Black for grade 5, and David Hack for grades 6, 7, and 8, which I compressed into two years. I finished my elementary education at the age of 12. In 1990, at the age of 13, I started my high school education at Little Creek Academy, a self-supporting school on the outskirts of Knoxville, Tennessee. With a rigorous academic prep program, a varied work program, and vocational instruction, my academic career flourished while I learned the value of hard work. My work experience included working in the extensive garden (tomatoes, string beans, peppers, potatoes, kale, etc.) that covered about one hundred acres, large crop farming (corn, hay, etc.), greenhouse operations (growing flowers and tomatoes from seed), dairy farming (milking and silage), janitorial duties in a nursing home, food preparation in the school cafeteria as well as the nursing home kitchen, and finally I spent a year going door-to-door selling (as a colporteur) Christian, children's, and healthy cooking books throughout Knoxville and surroundings.
The western suburbs of western Knoxville were growing rapidly, and the school's 600 acre campus was in the process of being surrounded by expensive homes. Property values had skyrocketed, so the school sold all but the core campus and nursing home and purchased 2000 acres about 15 miles northwest of Crossville, about an hour and half's drive away up on the Cumberland Plateau. During the summer between my Junior and Senior years, the school moved to the new campus. Along with the new campus, which the students helped to build, the school received a new name: Heritage Academy. In addition to 1000+ acre farming operation, the school started several new industries including a bakery, truck farming, and a country store. My senior year, I worked in construction, a commercial rock operation, a logging operation, and as a reader and lab assistant for four different classes including chemistry. I graduated with a 4.0 GPA in May of 1995.
Here is a picture of my family at our home in Lexington. This was probably taken around 1995, when I was about 18 years old.
I attended Southern Adventist University (home of Little Debbie Snacks, America's #1 snack cake) in Collegedale, TN, near Chattanooga. I took a double major in math and physics from the Physics Department and the Department of Mathematics in order to expand my mind in preparation for the rigors of meteorology and atmospheric science. After completing my sophomore year, I took a year off to go to the Federated States of Micronesia, a far flung island nation out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean (Map). I lived on Moen, the main commercial island of Chuuk State, which is 630 miles southeast of the U.S. Territory of Guam. There I taught eight high school classes at the Chuuk Seventh-day Adventist School: Pre-Algebra, Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Earth Science, Geography, Physics, and Physical Education. Needless to say, teaching eight classes in a row was quite exhausting! Thankfully, in December, two more teachers came, and my class load was reduced by a couple classes. Living on a small island in a developing country was an eye-opening experience. I will be posting many more details and pictures about my experience in Chuuk as I have time.
This is what I looked like after having spent a year in the tropics. Note how sun bleached my hair was!
The beautiful girl standing beside me is my sister, Andrea.
After coming back to the United States (the culture shock upon return was worse than going to Chuuk!), I attended The Pennsylvania State University for my Junior and Senior years. Transferring to such an enormous school (42,000 students) was quite an intimidating experience, but under the tutelage of some excellent teachers in the Department or Meteorology, I thrived academically. Enjoying the classes immensely, I also spent two semesters teaching an undergraduate service course, Intro to Meteorology Lab, and participated in the Campus Weather Service, a student-run organization that provides on-air weather forecasts to radio stations around Pennsylvania, as well as forecasts on the Internet. I graduated summa cum laude (4.0 GPA) in May of 2000.
This is my family at the time of my graduation from Penn State University in 2000.
During the summers of my Junior and Senior years at Penn State, I participated in the Significant Opportunities in Research and Science (SOARS) program at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, CO. This awesome program is open to college students from groups that have been traditionally underrepresented in the atmospheric sciences (Native American, African American, Chicano-Latina, and women). Students interested in a career in the atmospheric and associated sciences spend 10 weeks of their summer doing a research project under the guidance of research, writing, and community mentors from the NCAR scientific community. Protégés participate in a writing workshop, interface with scientists, and get to enjoy living in Boulder, CO. At the end of the summer, they give a presentation of their research to their peers and the scientific community, and submit a written report. I would have to say that I count these two summers as some of the best times of my life. See the Work section of my home page for details on what I did those two summers. (You can also click for My SOARS profile page).
I defended my Master's Thesis atmospheric science) on April 22, 2004. My thesis was about predicting hurricane tracks using a kilo-member ensemble. I turned my thesis in later that summer and received my M.S. degree from the Department of Atmospheric Science Graduate School in the College of Engineering at Colorado State University. This summer, I was interviewed about my Masters research as part of an effort to create videos about graduate students in the College of Engineering. You may view that interview here.
Now I am working on my Doctor of Philosophy Degree at CSU. My topic is not completely decided yet, but it will likely revolve around hurricanes, understanding the dynamics of their inner cores, and studying the processes which lead to intensity change. For more information, see the Work section.
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