(L-R) Georgios Priftis, Ankur Kumar, Dr. Udaysankar Nair, and Dr. Sujit Roy discussing the precipitation patterns from the hurricane Harvey (2017)
(L-R) Georgios Priftis, Ankur Kumar, Dr. Udaysankar Nair, and Dr. Sujit Roy discussing the precipitation patterns from the hurricane Harvey (2017)

Ankur Kumar, a Ph.D. student in the Atmospheric and Earth Science Department at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), part of the University of Alabama System, and a graduate research assistant at the NASA Interagency Implementation and Advanced Concepts Team (IMPACT) has won a prize for the 2023 American Geophysical Union (AGU) Michael H. Freilich Student Visualization Competition.

Originally from India, Kumar embarked on his academic journey by completing his undergraduate in mathematics and master's degrees in atmospheric science. While working with a professor in his home country, Kumar ventured to the United States in March 2019, initially spending time as a visiting scholar at Purdue University in Indianapolis before joining UAH as a Ph.D. student and NASA-IMPACT as a GRA.

Specializing in hurricane research, Kumar's work focuses on understanding the impact of urbanization on the post-landfall of hurricanes using traditional numerical and artificial intelligence (AI) models, notably working with NASA's IMPACT Team on the AI Foundation Model for weather applications.

Kumar’s recent award, the AGU Michael H. Freilich Student Visualization Competition, is a collaborative effort involving individuals from the Department of Atmospheric and Earth Science and the Department of Computer Science. The winning project revolves around a tool named “Hurricane eXplorer (HurrX),” which he conceptualized to visualize hurricane dynamics using various data sources, enhancing the understanding and application of hurricane research.

Scheduled for presentation at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) conference in San Francisco from December 11th to 17th, his work will be showcased on the NASA HyperWall. The award-winning tool aims to consolidate diverse data sets into a user-friendly interface, benefiting researchers, professors, and students interested in atmospheric science.

Acknowledging the collaborative nature of the award, Kumar credits his advisor, Dr. Udaysankar Nair, for guiding him over the past four years in working on his thesis. He also expresses gratitude to Sujit Roy and Iksha Gurung from NASA IMPACT for their contributions to the data sets and for ensuring the tool's wider accessibility. He acknowledges the contribution of Georgios Priftis, Anish Bhusal, Paridhi Parajuli, and Raj Dangol for their contribution in building the tool.

As Kumar looks ahead to completing his Ph.D. in Fall 2024, he encourages students to chase their dreams and venture down unconventional paths. Stressing the significance of setting realistic goals and maintaining persistent effort. He also expresses gratitude for the United States' hospitality towards international students, highlighting the abundant research resources and collaborations available at UAH, shaping his academic pursuits and fostering connections with professionals in his field.