I am a senior lecturer in the Blackett laboratory and a member of the space and atmospheric physics research group. Previously, I worked at the University of California, Berkeley, and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt MD where I held a National Research Council Resident Research Associateship. From 2010-2014 I held an STFC Advanced Fellowship at Imperial. In 2012 I was awarded the COSPAR Zeldovich Medal (Commission D).
I conduct research into space plasma physics and space weather. I am particularly interested in a phenomenon known as magnetic reconnection which occurs in the boundaries between different space plasmas. As well as changing the topology of the magnetic field in space, it also rapidly releases energy stored in the magnetic field, creating jets of hot plasma. Whilst reconnection occurs in a wide variety of circumstances (e.g. solar and stellar atmospheres, accretion disks, tokamak sawtooth crashes), in the Earth’s magnetosphere it causes geomagnetic storms, an example of space weather. Space weather is on the national risk register because it represents a very significant threat to infrastructure resilience (e.g. power blackouts, loss of GPS, satellite damage).
I combine blue sky research into fundamental space plasma physics (magnetic reconnection) with the development of new cutting-edge simulations for space weather modelling and prediction. This is underpinned by multiple space hardware projects, both current and planned, in which I play a leading role.
I am a member of several operating science missions including Cluster (ESA), THEMIS/ARTEMIS (NASA), STEREO (NASA), and most recently Magnetospheric Multi-Scale (NASA). I am also a Co-Investigator on Solar Orbiter (ESA) and JUICE (ESA), both of which are currently in development.
I lead space weather research within the group. One line of research, in partnership with the plasma physics group, is dedicated to developing new cutting-edge simulations for space weather modelling and prediction.
A second line of space weather research concerns the development of new space instrumentation for both space plasma physics and space weather. This builds on the space and atmospheric physics group's considerable heritage and experience in space magnetometry. In particular I am leading Imperial's involvement in the space weather RADCUBE project which will launch in 2019. I am also leading Imperial's involvement in the European Space Agency Lagrange space weather mission, planned for launch in the mid-2020's.