On the left as a child, Perlaky stands beside a Doppler On Wheels mobile radar truck during the truck’s tour with the Tornado Alley film. On the right in 2023, Perlaky recreates the moment next to a DOW while on a field research campaign.

Nicolas Perlaky, a senior undergraduate student in the College of Science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), a part of the University of Alabama System, is making remarkable strides in research and innovation. His focus is primarily centered on advancing soil moisture monitoring technology, and his contributions are nothing short of inspiring. Nicolas is a standout student in the Department of Atmospheric and Earth Science (AES), where his passion and dedication shine through in his groundbreaking work.

His journey into atmospheric science was sparked by his childhood fascination with storm chasers and the specialized instruments they used. However, as he delved deeper into the world of scientific instruments and radar trucks employed in weather phenomena research, his interests expanded far beyond storm chasing.

Perlaky's decision to join UAH was influenced by the university's renowned reputation for groundbreaking research, its proximity to his hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and his genuine affinity for weather trucks. Initially embarking on a path in electrical engineering, drawn by his enduring passion for electronics, he later transitioned to atmospheric and earth science. Nevertheless, his fascination with electronics remained steadfast and continued to drive his exploration of sensor technology, particularly in the context of weather monitoring.

Under the expert guidance of Dr. Lee Ellenberg, an Associate State Climatologist and Research Engineer III and a part-time lecturer at the AES Department, Perlaky has actively participated in several small sensor projects. One standout initiative is the development of cost-effective soil moisture monitoring stations, priced at an affordable $600 each, in tremendous contrast to commercial alternatives that can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

This groundbreaking initiative has garnered substantial attention, with numerous individuals and organizations across the state expressing keen interest in acquiring these innovative devices. Notably, despite their lower cost, these stations maintain a level of accuracy on par with their high-priced counterparts, providing valuable support to researchers and facilitating informed decisions related to prescribed fires.

As Perlaky approaches graduation, he looks forward to his upcoming wildfire weather research at San Jose State University. His strong passion for research and technology, along with his hands-on experience, make him a valuable addition to the atmospheric science field.