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DEKALB, Ill. – NIU’s Department of Geographic and Atmospheric Sciences has snagged a new faculty member who has been highly visible in the world of leading-edge weather research, particularly on tornadoes.
And the new addition also happens to be a familiar face around campus.
Victor Gensini joined the NIU faculty in August. In the spring of 2016, he gained national media attention for his research predicting the likelihood of tornadoes two or three weeks in advance, and he has since become a go-to expert source for the news media on weather and climate.
Less than a decade ago, Gensini was an NIU student, working closely with his advisor, Professor Walker Ashley, whose weather research also has attracted widespread press attention.
Gensini earned his bachelor’s degree in meteorology and master’s degree in geography from NIU. He later earned his Ph.D. from the University of Georgia, and most recently taught at the College of DuPage. He continued to maintain ties to his alma mater, however, co-authoring the 2016 tornado research with then-NIU graduate student Alan Marinaro.
Now Gensini has an adjoining office with former mentor Ashley, and the two will be pairing up on more weather- and climate-related research. Already they have been named co-principal investigators on a National Science Foundation grant of more than $400,000 to track historically large thunderstorm complexes and try to understand how storms may change in the future under potential climate-change scenarios.
“We are specifically interested in the projections across the Great Plains, where precipitation for aquifer recharge and agriculture is particularly important,” says Gensini, who’s also developing a grant proposal to expand his work on tornado forecasting.
In the classroom, Gensini is teaching an upper-level geography course this semester, as well as “Weather, Climate and You,” a general education course that introduces students to the world of weather and climate and their influences on society.
“Victor’s addition to the department is huge,” said David Changnon, chair of geographic and atmospheric sciences. “I believe he will positively influence student recruitment and retention through his engaging style and desire to include students in his various projects. I am very excited to have him back on campus.”
Begun in 1980, NIU’s undergraduate program in meteorology is the oldest undergraduate program of its kind in Illinois and one of the largest undergraduate-only meteorology programs in North America. Its graduates have successfully established careers in such areas as weather forecasting, broadcast meteorology, research meteorology, air pollution control, climatology, industry consulting, natural hazards mitigation, risk assessment and water supply management.
Gensini’s hiring isn’t the only highlight coming out of the department this summer. Morgan Kolkmeyer, a 2013 graduate of the meteorology program, recently joined “WGN Morning News” as the early-morning meteorologist.