One CIMMS: Q&A with Alexander Ryzhkov

Alexander Ryzhkov.
Alexander Ryzhkov.

For the month of February, the Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies at the University of Oklahoma is publishing a series of stories highlighting CIMMS’s past, present and future by highlighting its employees. CIMMS is diverse because of its employees — who represent a variety of entities and areas of research. One Q&A segment will be published each Monday and Thursday in February.

Alexander Ryzhkov is a senior research scientist supporting NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory and a University of Oklahoma School of Meteorology adjunct professor who has worked at CIMMS for more than 20 years. Ryzhkov develops algorithms for operational weather radars and microphysical retrieval techniques to improve the performance of the Numerical Weather Prediction models. Recently Ryzhkov was awarded the prestigious honor of American Meteorological Society Fellow and in 2007 he was awarded an AMS Editor’s Award for the Journal of Applied Meteorology.

Q: How did you get into your field?
A: By a chance. I was trained in the field of mathematical physics and never thought about a professional career in radar meteorology.

Q: Describe the path leading up to your current job.
A: I attended St. Petersburg University in Russia then worked at the Main Geophysical Observatory in St. Petersburg, National Research Council /NOAA NSSL and then CIMMS.

Alexander Ryzhkov and a student standing in front of a weather radar.
Alexander Ryzhkov and a 2003 Research Experiences for Undergraduates, REU program, student in front of the KOUN dual-polarized Doppler radar.

Q: What are you most proud of during your time at CIMMS or what is the most significant achievement of your career?
A: NOAA NSSL Senior Research Scientist Dusan Zrnic and I are finishing a monograph on weather radar polarimetry, which summarizes our research findings for the last 25 years.

Q: What is it about your job that interests and/or engages you?
A: Radar meteorology is at the crossroads of different disciplines: radar engineering, wave propagation, scattering theory, signal processing, cloud physics, artificial intelligence, hydrology, etc. I am really attracted by the breadth of research and the opportunity to collaborate with the most brilliant scientists around the globe.

Q: What is the most significant advancement in your field during your time at CIMMS?
A: Sure, it is the development of the polarimetric weather radar technology from a research idea to the successful implementation on the operational weather

Ryzhkov in the mid 1970s.
Ryzhkov in the mid 1970s. (Photo provided.)

radar network in the US and around the world. This is a classic example of research-to-operations.

Q: What is something you never expected in your field of research, career or CIMMS but it happened?
A: Moving to the United States and working at NOAA NSSL/CIMMS.

Q: Where is your favorite place to be?
A: St. Petersburg, Russia.

Q: What advice would you give your younger self? Or What would you most like to tell your younger self?
A: Set your goals as high as possible, find the best advisor, and try to reach the most intelligent people in their areas of expertise.

Q: What is the best book you’ve ever read?
A: “War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy.

Alexander Ryzhkov with his Fellow award.
Alexander Ryzhkov receiving Fellow from AMS’ at the January annual meeting in 2018. (Photo by AMS.)