Making waves in the world
NASA senior research scientist and principal investigator
and University of New Brunswick graduate Attila Komjathy is using GPS for an
entirely new application, which can track and monitor tsunamis.
The early days of his dissertation research at UNB,
specifically working with Professor Richard B. Langley, is what first
interested Komjathy in the research of different uses for GPS.
“My ultimate goal is to use GPS technology to detect
ionospheric signatures caused by tsunamis in real time so that people in
affected areas may be alerted even before the tsunami reaches populated areas,”
This technology can be immensely beneficial to coastal
communities in the path of the tsunami, he says.
Hungary for knowledge
After moving from Hungary, Komjathy says he chose UNB for
his Doctor of Philosophy work because of the reputation of its geodesy and
geomatics engineering program and its generous graduate student scholarships.
“Without the significant support of Prof. Langley, the
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (Canada’s granting agency for university
research) and UNB, I would not be conducting this interview today.”
Langley worked with Komjathy on several projects such as
helping to introduce GPS to the aviation community in Canada, in addition to
advising him on his PhD dissertation. He says Komjathy was a very dedicated and
“Some students are willing to forego partying every night
because they see the work as more fun or leading to eventual career
opportunities they might not have if they don’t put in the time,” says Langley.
“Attila was one of those guys. He eventually married and had children, so there
were home pressures. But to be able to balance home pressures and research work
at the same time, and do it successfully, that’s also an indication that this
guy is going to be a star, he is going to work out.”
Komjathy credits UNB and Prof.
Langley for helping him achieve success.
“UNB’s great facilities, student life, nurturing atmosphere,
and learning environment all contributed tremendously to achieve something
significant in my professional life. In addition, the breadth and quality of
research conducted by Prof. Langley and his group always amazed and inspired me
to reach higher,” says Komjathy.
Pushing the envelope
In addition to his strong work ethic, past accomplishments
and current research, Komjathy was the recipient of the Governor General’s Gold
Medal for Academic Excellence in Graduate Studies.
“It was the greatest honour that I ever received in my
research career,” he says. “Receiving the medal
from Her Honour, Marilyn Trenholme Counsell, the then Lieutenant-Governor of
New Brunswick on behalf of the Governor General has been one of the most
satisfying experiences for me. The beautiful certificate and gold medal are
part of my most treasured memories at UNB.”
With the variety of new satellite systems being developed by
Europe, China and Japan, Komjathy says he will continue to be inspired to come
up with innovative ideas.
“The next decade will be about designing even more complex
global navigation satellite system applications that will be expected to help
us in our daily lives,” he says. “I look forward to continue pushing the
envelope further. “
Contributed by Bronte’ James, Communications and Marketing. Made possibly by UNB Associated and Alumni.