People

From Space Science Theory Group

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Naoki Bessho

Research Scientist, Space Science Center of the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space, University of New Hampshire. Dr. Bessho received his Ph.D. in Science from Nagoya University, Japan, in 2001. His thesis was "Production of Ultrarelativistic Electrons by an Oblique Magnetosonic Shock Wave", which was a study of electron acceleration by particle-in-cell (PIC) simulation. His research interests are in a method of PIC simulation, particle acceleration in a shock wave, nonlinear wave theory, magnetic reconnection, and space plasmas.


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Amitava Bhattacharjee

Amitava Personal Page

Peter Paul Professor, Department of Physics and the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space, University of New Hampshire. Professor Bhattacharjee received his Ph.D. at Princeton University (1981) in theoretical plasma physics from the Department of Astrophysical Sciences. He and his students and postdoctoral colleagues have authored over 200 publications with broad applications to laboratory (including fusion), space and astrophysical plasmas. He has taught previously at Columbia University (1984-93) in the Department of Applied Physics, and at the University of Iowa (1993-2003) in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. At the University of Iowa, he received the James Van Allen Natural Sciences Fellowship (1996), the Faculty Scholar Award (1997-2000), and the Michael J. Brody Award (2003). He has served as Associate Editor of the Geophysical Research Letters and the Physics of Plasmas, as Founding Chair of the Topical Group in Plasma Astrophysics of the American Physical Society, and on various prize and fellowship committees. He is presently Chair of the Division of Plasma Physics of the American Physical Society and Senior Editor of the Journal of Geophysical Research – Space Physics. He was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 1993, and a Fellow of the American Association of Advancement of Science in 2000. Professor Bhattacharjee's research interests include: magnetic reconnection, turbulence and singularity formation, kinetic theory, free-electron lasers, and complex (or dusty) plasmas. He is presently the Director of CICART (Center for Integrated Computation and Analysis of Reconnection and Turbulence), a collaborative center with Dartmouth College, supported by the Department of Energy.


Sofiane Bourouaine

Dr. Sofiane Bourouaine, research Scientist, Physics Department and the Space Science Center of the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space, University of New Hampshire. He received his Ph.D. from Goettingen University, Germany in 2009. He worked as a researcher at Max-Planck Institute for Solar System Research between years 2006-2012. His main interests are plasma turbulence, heating of solar corona and solar wind. He has also worked on Mathematical Physics, e.g., on non-commutative space and Moyal Algebra applied to Quantum Physics.


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Ben Chandran

Professor Chandran received his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1997. His research is in the areas of theoretical plasma physics and theoretical astrophysics, particularly problems at the interface between these two fields. His main interests are plasma turbulence, the role of turbulence in the solar corona and other astrophysical settings, and the evolution of baryonic matter in clusters of galaxies. He has also worked on cosmic-ray propagation, particle acceleration at shocks, and the origin of astrophysical magnetic fields. His research program is supported by grants from NASA, NSF, and DOE, and offers research opportunities for undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral scholars.


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Li-Jen Chen

Research Assistant Professor, Physics Department and the Space Science Center of the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space, University of New Hampshire.

Li-Jen Chen received her Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Washington with a theoretical dissertation on electrostatic solitary waves in collisionless plasmas. She conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Iowa on the subjects of magnetospheric substorms, electrostatic solitary waves, and dispersive Alfven waves and their interaction with auroral electrons. She joined the Space Plasma Theory Group in December, 2005, and began to study magnetic reconnection. Her main interest in magnetic reconnection includes particle acceleration and structures of the diffusion region that affect the energy conversion rate and energy partition. In addition to reconnection, her current research interests include dynamics of electrostatic structures and how they influence plasma bulk properties at current layers, propagation of dispersive Alfven waves and field line resonances. She takes an approach that integrates theories, plasma simulations and laboratory experiments with space observations to address un-answered questions in her research areas of interest.


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Fatima Ebrahimi

Fatima Ebrahimi's Personal Page

Research Assistant Professor, Space Science Center of the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space, University of New Hampshire

Fatima Ebrahimi received her PhD in Plasma Physics at the University of Wisconsin--Madison in 2003. Her thesis project was nonlinear computation of AC helicity injection in the reversed field pinch, a laboratory fusion plasma experiment . After receiving her PhD, she was a research associate and then a research scientist with the Center for Magnetic Self-Organization in Laboratory and Astrophysical Plasmas (CMSO) at the university of Wisconsin--Madison. Her main research experience, stretching over the last ten years, is within the field of computational nonlinear magneto-hydrodynamics (MHD). She also does linear and quasilinear analytical theory to better understand, interpret, verify and validate the complex nonlinear MHD computational results. Momentum transport from current-driven reconnection and flow-driven magnetorotational instability with application to both fusion and astrophysical plasmas has been her primary research activity in the last couple of years. In the summer 2009, she joined the Space Science Center at the University of New Hampshire. Over the years, she has been closely collaborating with the fusion plasma experimentalist at the University of Wisconsin. In 2009 she also started modeling and simulating two astrophysically-relevant experiments, Plasma Dynamo and Couette Flow experiments newly funded by NSF.


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Terry Forbes

Research Professor, Physics Department and the Space Science Center of the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space. Prior to joining UNH in 1984, Dr. Forbes worked as a research fellow in the Department of Applied Mathematics at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and before that he held a postdoctoral appointment at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. He has also worked as a visiting scientist at the Meudon Observatory in France, the Isaac Newton Institute of Cambridge University in England, and the Institute for Theoretical Physics of the University of California at Santa Barbara. He is a member of the American Astronomical Society, the Royal Astronomical Society (UK), the American Geophysical Union, the European Geophysical Society, and the International Astronomical Union. Dr. Forbes' research interests are primarily in the areas of magnetic reconnection, coronal mass ejections, and solar flares. He is co-author with E.R. Priest of "Magnetic Reconnection - MHD Theory and Applications" published by Cambridge University Press. Dr. Forbes has authored, or co-authored, over 100 articles, and he currently serves as associate editor for the journals "Solar Physics" and "Journal of Geophysical Research".


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William Fox

Will Fox's Personal Page

Research Scientist, Space Science Center of the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space, University of New Hampshire. Will recently joined Prof. Bhattacharjee’s group in the Space Science Center after receiving his Ph.D. in Plasma Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2009. His thesis advisor was Prof. Miklos Porkolab and his thesis consisted of experimental observation and identification of plasma instabilities arising during reconnection in the Versatile Toroidal Facility at MIT.


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Yasong Ge

Research Scientist, Space Science Center of the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space, University of New Hampshire. Yasong Ge obtained his B.S. and M.S. from the University of Science and Technology of China and Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles. During this time he worked on terrestrial and Jovian substorm dynamics. After finishing his Ph.D., he moved to the University of New Hampshire and joined the Space Plasma theory group in Feburary 2009. Presently he is working with Prof. Raeder on the global MHD simulation of terrestrial substorms.


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Kai Germaschewski

Assistant Professor, Space Science Center of the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space, University of New Hampshire. Kai Germaschewski received his Ph.D. in Computational Plasma Physics from the University of Duesseldorf, Germany in 2001. His advisor was Rainer Grauer and his thesis is titled "Pulse propagation in media with anistroptic dispersion". After working one year as a post-doc at the Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany he joined Amitava Bhattacharjee's Center for Magnetic Reconnection Studies (CMRS) at the University of Iowa in 2002, working on Hall-MHD simulation codes employing Adaptive Mesh Refinement. He moved together with the group to the University of New Hampshire in summer 2003.

His research aims to gain a better understanding of fast reconnection processes in two-fluid systems, applicable to laboratory as well as space plasmas. The focus of his work is on sophisticated, high performance, massively parallel numerical methods, in particular block-structured adaptive mesh refinement to efficiently resolve a large range of spatial scales and implicit Newton-Krylov-Schwarz based methods to overcomestability limitations present in explicit numerical schemes.

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Matt Gilson


Research Scientist. Matthew Gilson received his B.S. in Applied Physics at Grove City College in 2007. His main research interests include solar and terrestrial plasmas and computational physics. His current research focus is on calculating the position and energy flux of the proton aurora using OpenGGCM.


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Joe Hollweg, Vita

Professor Emeritus, Physics Department and the Space Science Center of the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space, University of New Hampshire.

Office phone: 603-862-3869. Email: joe.hollweg@unh.edu

Research Interests: Dynamics of the solar atmosphere and solar wind, waves in plasmas.

The Sun's atmosphere exhibits a wide range of complex dynamic phenomena. At any instant of time there are about one million high-speed jets of gas, called spicules, on the Sun. There is a continual outflow, called the solar wind, of solar plasma into interplanetary space. The region just below the Sun's visible surface is filled with sound waves. The solar corona and the underlying chromosphere are constantly in motion. And there are frequent impulsive releases of energy, such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections. The solar atmosphere contains complex configurations of magnetic field which are also in a constant state of agitation. The magnetic and kinetic energy in the Sun's atmosphere is continually being converted into heat. The corona is heated to several million Kelvins, and some of this thermal energy enables the solar wind to be accelerated to high speeds and escape the Sun's gravity. The chromosphere and spicules are also heated to more modest temperatures. But the details of these processes are not understood.

Our research is concerned with developing theoretical models for the sources of momentum and energy that are required to explain the observed motions and heating. We have emphasized the roles of waves, which transport both momentum and energy and can therefore accelerate and heat the solar plasma. Understanding the physics of waves in the solar atmosphere is challenging. The waves propagate in a very structured medium, and they undergo complicated nonlinear interactions leading to shock formation, instabilities, and turbulence.

Our program has been supported by grants from NASA and the NSF . Hollweg has also been involved with experimental programs on the SOHO mission.

Hollweg was awarded the 1992 James Arthur Prize for Solar Physics by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and in 2002 he was elected Fellow of the American Geophysical Union "for outstanding research on topics throughout the corona and solar wind and for consistently clear elucidation of the fundamental physical processes involved". He officially retired in 2006, but still maintains an office at UNH and continues his research projects and collaborations.


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Yi-Min Huang

Yi-Min's Personal Page

Research Scientist, Space Science Center of the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space, University of New Hampshire. Yi-Min completed his Ph.D. in plasma physics at the University of Maryland in 2004. After that he joined the Center for Magnetic Self-Organization in the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He joined the Space Science Center in 2008. His research interests include MHD and shear flow stability, magnetic reconnection, and current sheet formation.


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Phil Isenberg

Research Professor, Physics Department and the Space Science Center of the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space, University of New Hampshire. Professor Isenberg received his S.B. in Physics from MIT in 1971, and his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Chicago in 1976. Following postdoc appointments at the University of Arizona and UCSD, he joined the Theory Group in the Space Science Center at UNH in 1981 to work on the acceleration of the solar wind. His current research interests still include solar wind heating and acceleration, as well as theoretical modeling of solar prominance eruptions, kinetic wave-particle interactions, and the dynamics of interstellar pickup ions.


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Martin Lee

Professor, Space Science Center and Dept. of Physics, University of New Hampshire. Prof. Lee received his PhD. from the University of Chicago (1971) in theoretical space plasma physics. He is the author of over 150 publications in refereed journals and conference proceedings. He has served as associate editor of JGR-Space Physics and Reviews of Geophysics, and on numerous NASA, National Research Council and NSF panels and committees. He was a long time coinvestigator in the NASA sun earth connection theory program. He is a coinvestigator or associate scientist on three spacecraft experiments: CELIAS/SOHO, PLASTIC/STEREO AND IBEX. In 1998, he was elected a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union. Professor Lee's research interests are focused on the transport and acceleration of energetic particles in the heliosphere and include the process of diffusive shock acceleration, plasma instabilities, and the solar modulation of galactic cosmic rays.


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Wenhui Li

Research Scientist, Space Science Center of the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space, University of New Hampshire. Wenhui Li received his PhD in space physics from University of New Hampshire in 2007. His advisor was Jimmy Raeder and his thesis is titled "Solar wind entry into the magnetosphere under northward IMF conditions". He focuses on studying the solar wind effects on the magnetosphere, ionosphere, and thermosphere using OpenGGCM-CTIM and in-situ data from space.


LiWei Lin

Research Scientist, Physics Department and the Space Science Center of the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space, University of New Hampshire.


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Jean C. Perez

Research Scientist, Space Science Center of the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space, University of New Hampshire

Jean C. Perez obtained his Ph.D. in Plasma Physics from the University of Texas at Austin in 2006. His doctoral research focused on theoretical and numerical modeling of shear flows and drift waves in two university-sized plasma experiments: the Helimak at UT-Austin and the Large Plasma Device (LAPD) at UCLA. After his Ph.D., he became a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. During this time he worked on the structure of strongly magnetized, steadily driven, homogeneous Magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) turbulence by means of numerical simulations on massively parallel computers. In the fall of 2009, he joined the Space Science Center at the University of New Hampshire as a Research Scientist, to continue working on more realistic numerical simulations of inhomogeneous imbalanced MHD turbulence in the solar wind driven by non-WKB reflections of Alfven waves, associated to the non-uniform solar wind background plasma.


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Jimmy Raeder

Associate Professor, Research interests: Space physics, space weather solar-terrestrial relationships, plasmas and magnetic fields in space, solar wind - magnetosphere - ionosphere - thermosphere coupling, geomagnetic activity, geomagnetic storms and substorms, solar induced effects on climate, large scale modeling of magnetospheres, data assimilation, cometary physics, computational fluid dynamics, numerical methods, high performance computing.

I received a B.S. in Geophysics and Applied Mathematics (a.k.a. as Diplom Geophysiker in German) from the University of Cologne (West Germany, back then) in 1985. Subsequently I joined Professor F. M. Neubauer's GIOTTO magnetometer team at the University of Cologne as a graduate student. The GIOTTO satellite was launched in July 1985 and encountered comet P/Halley in March of 1986. It was the first spacecraft ever to come close enough to a cometary nucleus to take images and it was the first and only spacecraft so far to enter the magnetic field free inner coma of a comet. A recent NASA follow-up called CONTOUR unfortunately exploded in space, so GIOTTO will keep that distinction for a while. I completed my thesis on cometary physics and received my Ph.D. in 1989. In 1990 I joined M. Ashour-Abdalla's group at UCLA to start with magnetospheric modeling. I devoleped a new magnetosphere - ionosphere model from scratch. It was the first magnetosphere model that was parallelized for the new class of message passing massive parallel machines (which was at that time a 32 node Intel IPSC860 machine with 8MB memory per node) which allowed for simulations of much larger scale than previously possible. I used the model for the first modeling studies of the distant magnetotail and the first model comparisons with Geotail in situ data. In 1999 I coupled the model with Tim Fuller-Rowell's (NOAA/SEC) CTIM model of the ionosphere - thermosphere system. It so became the first Geospace model with complete coverage from the magnetosphere to the upper atmosphere and it was used extensively for the study of geomagnetic storms. The coupled model, which is also knowm as the 'UCLA/NOAA magnetosphere - ionosphere - thermosphere model' was introduced into the Community Coordinated Modeling Center ( CCMC ) in 2001, where it is available for the science community for model runs on demand. In 2003 I accepted a joint EOS/Physics faculty position at UNH. The development of the geospace model continues and it will now become the 'OpenGGCM', which stands for 'Open Geospace General Circulation Model'. I believe that best progress in understanding geospace can be made by combining observations with modeling. Towards that end I am part of NASA's Science and Technology Mission Definition Team for a Magnetospheric Constellation ( MC ) mission, which will for the first time provide a global coverage of at least part of the magnetosphere. Leading up to MC, which will not be launched before a decade hence, is the THEMIS mission, led by V. Angelopoulos (UC Berkeley), of which I am a Co-I. Of course, combining the data from multi satellite missions optimally with global models requires the use of data assimilation techniques, which has now become an active research topic in magnetospheric modeling and which is also pursued in my group. Besides studying the magnetosphere I am also interested in understanding how the sun influences Earth's climate by modulating the cosmic ray flux and thus cloud formation.


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Aveek Sarkar

Research Scientist. Physics Department and the Space Science Center of the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space, University of New Hampshire. Aveek Sarkar obtained his Ph.D from the University of Goettingen, Germany. During this time he worked on numerical methods and the dynamo theory. Soon after finishing his Ph.D., he moved to the University of Central Lancashire, United Kingdom, where he worked on the solar corona and the coronal heating problem. He joined the Space Plasma theory group in March 2009 and presently he is working on solar wind and magnetohydrodynamic turbulence.

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Bernard J. Vasquez

Bernard J. Vasquez Research Associate Professor, Space Science Center and Department of Physics, University of New Hamsphire and member of the UNH Solar Terrestrial Theory Group. Dr. Vasquez completed his dissertation in Astronomy entitled "Nonlinear Wave Evolution in a Dispersive Plasma: Application to Rotational Discontinuities" at the University of Maryland, College Park with Prof. K. Papadopoulos and Prof. P. Cargill in 1992. He joined UNH in 1993 as a post-doctoral researcher. Vasquez's research interest are primarily in the area of solar wind, magnetopause, magnetic clouds, waves, discontinuities, ion kinetics, reconnection, and numerical simulations. He has authored or co-authered over 20 published papers.

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Daniel Verscharen

Daniel Verscharen's Personal Page

Research Scientist, Space Science Center of the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space, University of New Hampshire. Daniel Verscharen received his MSc. in Physics (German: Diplom-Physiker) from the University of Bonn in 2007. His master's thesis investigated kinetic physics of parallel shock waves in astrophysical plasmas and was supervised by Hans Fahr. In 2009, he began his doctoral studies at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany under supervision of Eckart Marsch in collaboration with the Technical University Braunschweig (TUB) under supervision of Uwe Motschmann. The title of his PhD thesis is "On convected wave structures and spectral transfer in space plasmas - applications to solar corona and solar wind". He received his PhD from TUB in 2012.

In summer 2012, he joined the research group of Benjamin Chandran at the UNH Space Science Center. His work focuses on microphysical processes related to alpha particles in the solar wind. He is studying streaming instabilities, wave excitation, turbulence generation, and effects on energetic particles by means of analytical theory and hybrid simulations.