I am currently a space physics researcher at Dartmouth College working with the BARREL mission. I started researching waves in Earth's magnetosphere as an undergraduate at Augsburg College with Mark Engebretson using ground based magnetometers in the Arctic and Antarctic. I moved away from waves to focus on geomagnetic storms and substorms during my masters at the University of Colorado Boulder with Dan Baker but returned once more to waves with my PhD at University of Newcastle NSW Australia working under Brian Fraser. My PhD thesis was on Electromagnetic Ion Cyclotron (EMIC) waves during the CRRES mission and their relationship to the plasmasphere and radiation belts. With the BARREL mission I have moved down the field line (from a space perspective) and now look at the population of particles lost due to these interactions.
What is space physics and why you should care?Space physics is only the most awesome, exciting, interesting, and all around best area of study... but I might be biased. Besides just being cool, it has many practical applications. As we move further into space and more dependent on the technologies that can be affected by space weather, understanding and predicting it becomes increasingly important.
Although we've been looking at space for thousands of years, we've only been able to look in space for less than a century. We've made huge strides in our understanding of this new environment, but there is still a long way to go. We are still trying to fully understand this region of our environment and the types of activity which can have large impacts on our society. This is what makes studying space physics fun and interesting. Some physicist work on the edge of our physical understanding, pushing the bounds of the standard theory, but we work at the edge of space just trying to figure out what all is out there, how it works, how it all fits together, and how we can live in and with it. It's an adventure every day and each new data set holds a new mystery!