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 (Left to Right) Dr. Richard T. McNider, Kevin Doty, Dr. John Christy, and Peggy Kauffman, at Kevin Doty's and Peggy Kauffman's retirement party held in UAH's Cramer Hall on April 27th, 2023. Photo Courtesy: Liz Junod/UAH

In today’s world, it’s rare to hear employees remain at the same job more than 5 years. It speaks volumes about The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) Earth System Science Center when hearing of two employees retiring with 26 years of service on May 1, 2023.


Senior Program Coordinator Peggy Kauffman and Research Scientist Kevin Doty will miss walking into work every day, filled with people who they consider to be lifelong friends.


“I’ve seen students come in, get their degree, get married, and now have children of their own. The people I work with are family,” says Kauffman.


Denise Berendes, a UAH Earth System Science Center colleague can attest to Kauffman’s statement. Berendes has fond memories of working with both Doty and Kauffman over the past two decades.

“Kevin and I would joke about having to send a computer candy and flowers to make it function properly. And Peggy is just so open and friendly with everyone. I’ll miss them both dearly,” says Berendes.


Hired by Dr. Richard T. McNider, both Kauffman and Doty’s careers at UAH’s Earth System Science Center began in 1997. 

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Research Scientist Kevin Doty is retiring with 26 years of service to UAH’s Earth System Science Center. Photo Courtesy: Liz Junod/UAH

Doty was hired by Dr. McNider right out of graduate school with his degree in atmospheric science. His specialty lies in running numeric weather prediction models.


“Kevin is one of the hardest working people I ever hired. He could write thousands of lines of code when we had projects. I am thankful for the talented people like Kevin who came Huntsville often from far away and made it home,” says Dr. McNider.


Doty says the first project assigned to him by Dr. McNider is most memorable to him, as McNider always came up with great research ideas. 


“I worked on the Southern Appalachian Mountain Initiative, looking at the impact of air quality on the visibility of the Appalachian Mountains. The results allowed the project to give recommendations to the Environmental Protection Agency,” says Doty.


Doty’s weather modeling career at UAH’s Earth System Science Center evolved from air quality to most recently tackling projects that involved hydrology and irrigation.


“I collaborated with Dr. Lee Ellenburg and Dr. John Christy running hydrology and agricultural crop models. I particularly worked on hydrology modeling to see if we were to withdraw water from a stream, what would be the impact?” says Doty. 


“There’s something about facing a tough problem, taking it on, and attempting to solve it that UAH has allowed me to achieve in my career. I’ll miss that most,” says Doty.


Kauffman says accepting the offer to work at UAH’s Earth System Science Center to handle purchasing and travel authorizations was the best decision she ever made in her career.


“The atmospheric research scientists I worked with gave me the knowledge I needed to overcome my lifelong fear of thunderstorms,” says Kauffman. 


Kauffman says Dr. Kevin Knupp, the Director of UAH’s Earth System Science Center Severe Weather Institute for Research & Lightning Laboratories taught Kauffman how to track storms on the radar. 


“I finally have peace of mind when it comes to severe weather and if it would impact me no matter where I was located,” says Kauffman.

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Senior Program Coordinator Peggy Kauffman is retiring with 26 years of service to UAH’s Earth System Science Center. Photo Courtesy: Liz Junod/UAH

Dr. McNider considers Kauffman to be a part of the bedrock of UAH’s Earth System Science Center. 


“She made it look easy even with all the changing rules related to purchasing and travel,” says McNider.


One of the first purchases Kauffman completed for UAH’s Earth System Science Center was a 1999 van that is still used as a support vehicle by UAH’s Mobile Atmospheric Profiling Network facilities for tornado field campaigns. 


Kauffman wrote every option for the 1999 van by hand into a requisition form. Thankfully, everything nowadays is inputted through electronic forms.


“I really enjoy knowing everything I have purchased for UAH’s Earth System Science Center is being used by students, faculty, and staff to study severe weather to help protect lives,” says Kauffman. 


While both Kauffman and Doty will officially retire on May 1, 2023, both will be re-hired as part-time, on-call employees.


“There are people from UAH’s Earth System Science Center that I will remain lifelong friends with even after retirement and I’ll still be able to see them in the building from time to time,” says Doty. 


“I’m looking forward to having the time to retire, but not be completely out of the picture. I can’t walk away from the people I call family. I am always happy to help this great research center when needed,” says Kauffman.