The Team

Project Leadership

gregg kopp

Greg Kopp

Dr. Greg Kopp is the ImpactWx Chair in Severe Storms Engineering and a professor in Western University’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He received a B.Sc.M.E. from the University of Manitoba in 1989, a M.Eng. from McMaster University in 1991 and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Toronto in 1995. His expertise and research relate to mitigating damage to structures during extreme wind storms such as tornadoes and hurricanes.

He works actively to implement research findings into practice, currently serving as Chair of the ASCE 49 Standards Committee on Wind Tunnel Testing For Buildings and other Structures, and as a member of various other Building Code committees. A former Canada Research Chair in Wind Engineering, he is also the lead researcher for the Three Little Pigs Project at The Insurance Research Lab for Better Homes.

david sills

David Sills

Dr. David Sills is Executive Director of the Northern Tornadoes Project. He received a BSc in Atmospheric Science and Certificate in Meteorology from York University in 1993, as well as a PhD in Atmospheric Science from York University in 1998. He worked for more than 20 years as a severe weather scientist with Environment Canada, conducting research on Canadian tornadoes, severe weather nowcasting and mesoscale meteorology. He was awarded the CMOS Rube Hornstein Medal in Operational Meteorology and the Geoff Howell Citation of Excellence for Innovation. Dr. Sills serves as Associate Editor for the journals Atmosphere-Ocean and Monthly Weather Review.

When not investigating the latest tornado, he also writes/performs indie folk-rock, is an avid photographer, and sails the Great Lakes with his wife Heather.

Project Staff

lesley elliot

Lesley Elliot

Lesley Elliott is a Research Meteorologist for the Northern Tornadoes Project. She received a BSc (Hons) in Atmospheric Science in 2004 and an MSc in Earth and Atmospheric Science in 2006, both from the University of Alberta. She has developed her research skills in both academic and public environments through her involvement in several research projects, including studies focusing on thunderstorm initiation in southern Ontario, as well as along the foothills of Alberta.


emilio hong

Emilio Hong

Emilio Hong is a PhD student and part-time research engineer for the Northern Tornadoes Project. He started at Western University in 2011, completing his BESc in Civil and Environmental Engineering in 2015. During that time, he completed an undergraduate thesis with Dr. Greg Kopp that he would continue for his Masters in Wind Engineering, studying wall pressure coefficients in low-rise to high-rise buildings. In 2017, Emilio started on the pilot project for the Northern Tornadoes Project, working full time as a research engineer, before starting a PhD with Dr. Kopp, studying the effects of tornadoes on forests. During this period, Emilio has worked in the Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel Laboratory and surveyed tornadoes in Angus, Ottawa and Quebec, and assisted in surveying Hurricane Irma.


Aaron Jaffe

Aaron Jaffe

Aaron Jaffe is a full-time research engineer for the Northern Tornadoes Project. He received a BESc in civil/structural engineering in 2017, and is currently finishing an MESc in wind engineering, both at Western University. He has been part of Dr. Greg Kopp’s research group since 2015, studying the effects of tornadoes on residential buildings, among other structures, and conducting extreme wind damage surveys in the field. His graduate work focusses on the effects of tornado-induced internal pressures in residential structures. His roles for the Northern Tornadoes Project include conducting damage surveys, offering engineering expertise and analysis, conducting aerial imagery analysis, and writing tornado event reports.


Joanne Kunkel

Joanne Kunkel

Joanne Kunkel is a Research Meteorologist for the Northern Tornadoes Project. She received an Honours BSc in Atmospheric Science and Certificate in Meteorology from York University in 2012, as well as an MSc in Atmospheric Science from York University in 2016. Her MSc thesis investigated the initiating mechanisms of eyewall replacement cycles that occur in hurricanes. She is also an artist, and enjoys sketching and painting in her spare time.


Connell Miller

Connell Miller


sarah stevenson

Sarah Stevenson

Sarah Stevenson is a Vanier Scholar and PhD candidate in Structural Engineering. She received a BSc in Civil Engineering from the University of Manitoba in 2015, and a MESc in Wind Engineering from Western in 2017. Sarah’s research focuses on improving construction practice for non-engineered residential structures. To gain a practical understanding of house construction, she has participated in two humanitarian trips to re-construct houses in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. There, Sarah led the engineering design of wind-resistant wood roofs and contributed to construction tasks. Her PhD research includes a collaborative project with the University of Holguin, Cuba, where she will work towards applying Western’s wind expertise to address international housing problems.

Sarah’s involvement in the Northern Tornadoes Project is to provide structural assessment of damaged buildings and assist with data collection during damage surveys.