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Keith F. Brill ('77)
Meteorologist, National Weather Service
Asked to describe what inspired his interest in meteorology as a child, Keith sums it up in a word — excitement. While the dynamic aspect of changing weather, particularly storms, fascinated him as a kid, he entered JMU as a mathematics major, then added physics as a second major. "Faculty members advised me to complete the double major and pursue meteorology at the graduate level," he says. "Taking that advice worked out very well." Well, indeed. Graduate school and positions at NASA and finally the National Weather Service followed, giving Keith the challenge he enjoys most — combining mathematics, physics and computing technology in various ways to support operational weather forecasting. His work in forecasting was recognized by the NWS with the Isaac M. Cline Award, the agency's highest recognition for operational excellence. Outside of his career, an interest in human rights serves as his motivation. A long-time member of Amnesty International, Keith supports human rights movements, especially rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons. For Keith, progress is the reward of patient, careful and persistent effort.
"Returning to JMU in fall 2006 to deliver the Alumnus of the Year lecture in the physics department was both an honor and a reminder of the value of the university to its students and the greater community. Only with the light of knowledge and clear thinking can the perpetual challenge from the darkness of ignorance, fear and superstition be held at bay."