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“When I was 4 years old I was at a baseball game in my hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. It was a sellout crowd, the Atlanta Braves were playing the Southern League All-Stars in an exhibition game… My brother’s favorite baseball player was at bat. The winds came up, blew chairs off the roof and lightning hit the transformer just past center field… All the lights went out. The crowd of 10,000 was gasping, and nobody knew what to do. This was a severe thunderstorm. It was reported there was a funnel cloud. I don’t think there was any touchdown of a tornado, but there was a funnel cloud… My mom told me, ‘John, hide under your seat.’ I hid under the seat so far they couldn’t find me. That experience at Rickwood Field when I was 4 really, really stuck with me.

“One year later, probably partly because of all that, my aunt sent me a book on the weather, and I announced to my family that I’m going to be a meteorologist—to a family that had no scientists that we knew of. As my classmates will tell you, all the way through school that was my plan. I never deviated.”

—John Knox on how he first became interested in studying the weather. He is shown here with a rotating fluid dynamics tank, which he uses when teaching to simulate how the Earth’s rotation affects the large-scale movement of the atmosphere and the ocean. Knox is dressed as Ben Franklin to champion the university’s connection to Franklin, for whom the College of Arts and Sciences was named.

John Knox

Associate professor and undergraduate coordinator, geography,

Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

B.S., mathematics,

University of Alabama at Birmingham

Ph.D., atmospheric sciences,

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Richard B. Russell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, 2013 Sandy Beaver Excellence in Teaching Award, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, 2011 T. Theodore Fujita Research Achievement Award, National Weather Association, 2010

Photo shot by Peter Frey in the Geography/Geology Building.