SHIELD Webinars

The SHIELD Webinar series invites researchers and leaders in the space physics community to share the story of their science journey and discuss the barriers and choices they faced. These informal talks include time for questions and discussion. Please join us for the upcoming webinars. You can also view the recordings of the past webinars below.

Upcoming Webinar

Monday, August 19th, 2pm ET

The Human Spirit Can Make
The ‘Impossible’ Possible:

What space exploration can learn about
passion, persistence, and resilience from a groundbreaking athlete.

A conversation between Diana Nyad
and Merav Opher

Any challenging human endeavor requires both passion, perseverance, and resilience.  This is true when both pushing the edges of the human body’s physical endurance, or the boundaries of our understanding of the universe.

Diana Nyad, a world renown marathon swimmer and a member of the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame, overcame extraordinary challenges to swim the open ocean from Cuba to Key West Florida. Her passion, perseverance and resilience were key to ultimately succeeding after multiple attempts at this extraordinary feat. 

Merav Opher, is a Professor of Astronomy at Boston University and a Harvard Radcliffe Fellow. She is the leader of the SHIELD DRIVE Science Research Center, one of the three NASA funded centers to tackle breakthrough science. SHIELD’s goal is to create a twin analog of the heliosphere, the bubble formed by the solar wind as it encounters the interstellar medium. It took passion,  perseverance, and resilience to build a multi-institution team composed of members who hold strong diverse opinions about the shape of our heliosphere and how to understand the science behind it. 

Join us in the webinar for a conversation between Diana Nyad and Prof. Opher as they explore the meaning and value of passion, perseverance, and resilience.

Registration link:

Diane Nyad and Merav Opher in conversation

Past Webinars

Friday, March 22nd, 2pm:
Panel Discussion on “Raising awareness on mental health in the heliophysics community”


  • Romina Nikoukar, JHU APL
  • Edward GonZales, NASA/GSFC
  • Kostas Dialynas, Academy of Athens

This panel discussion will be based on a paper of the same title, Nikoukar et. al., Front. Phys., 27 July 2023Sec. Space Physics Volume 11 – 2023 | 

View a Recording Here

Friday, Jan. 19th, 2pm:
Queer Eye for Space Physics:
Panel Discussion with LGBTQ+ Space Scientists

Watch Video Here

The value of diversity within a scientific team is well documented. Team members with different backgrounds and experiences bring different perspectives to the problems and challenges faced by the team. This webinar will bring together 3 space scientists who are also members of the LGBTQ+ community to discuss how being queer influenced their trajectory and made doing science a richer experience. We will discuss their personal trajectories, mentorships, and aspects such as – did being queer make them do or have a different approach to exploring scientific questions. As usual with our webinars, we will have an unguarded frank conversation and will be open to the audience for questions.


  • Merav Opher, (she/her), Prof. of Astronomy, Boston University
  • Edgard G. Rivera-Valentín (they/he), Senior Planetary Scientist, JHU/APL
  • Jaye Verniero (they/he), Research Astrophysicist, NASA GSFC

Nov. 17th: Lika Guhathakurta: “We are all Living Stars”

Watch the Video

Dr. Madhulika Guhathakurta is a Senior Advisor for New Initiatives, Heliophysics, for NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and a Program Scientist at NASA Headquarters. For the past two decades, Dr. Guhathakurta has enabled the development of Heliophysics as an integrated scientific discipline from which fundamental discoveries about our universe provide direct societal benefits. She was the lead for the Living With a Star (LWS) program for 16 years since its initiation in 2000 she made possible the flagship missions (e.g. the Solar Dynamics Observatory, Van Allen Probes, Solar Orbiter Collaboration with European Space Agency and Parker Solar Probe), many other missions, including STEREO that would revolutionize our understanding of how the Sun shapes space weather in the solar system.

To nurture the next generation of leaders in Heliophysics, she created the Jack Eddy Fellowship Program which has become an important channel for the professional growth of promising researchers. She is the recipient of many national and international awards, including India’s Most Powerful Women” for 2020, Business Today, India, Baron Marcel Nicolet Medal for Space Weather and Space Climate, 2020 and American Geophysical Union Ambassador Award, 2021.

Sept. 22nd: Cherilynn Morrow: “Outreach Activities for Your Eclipse Events”

Wacth this talk

Dr. Cherilynn Morrow, is the director of the Public Engagement (or Outreach) program embedded in NASA’s PUNCH mission. PUNCH (Polarimeter to UNify the Corona and Heliosphere) is designed to study the Sun’s outer corona and the space weather of the entire inner heliosphere as a unified system. Our multi-institutional public engagement team aligns all of its activities and events with an Ancient & Modern Sun-watching theme to make NASA heliophysics more personally and culturally relevant to a broader diversity of people.  The theme portrays NASA’s exploration of the Sun as a natural extension of ancient Sun-watching as exemplified in Chaco Canyon and all over the world. Our activities are developed and field-tested via collaborations with mission team members, blind and low vision learners, Native and Hispanic youth and families, and girls in STEM. These collaborations have led us to develop multi-sensory, multicultural, arts-integrated activities of benefit to all people.  Dr. Morrow’s seminar shares a subset of these activities, emphasizing those that can be used in your eclipse event, whether celebrating with your family or contributing to a larger event.  These activities are effective ways to engage participants whether you are on or off the path of totality or for any event featuring the Sun, whether or not an eclipse is in play.  Please see our website for the latest published versions of all our activities:

Sept. 1st: Sarah Gibson: “Galloping to the Sun”

Dr. Sarah Gibson is a Senior Scientist of the High Altitude Observatory (HAO) at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Dr. Gibson received her Bachelor’s Degree in Physics from Stanford University, and her Masters and Doctoral Degrees in Astrophysics from the University of Colorado. At HAO, she has served as Solar Section Head, Deputy Director, and Interim HAO Director. She is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and was the recipient of the American Astronomical Society – Solar Physics Division Karen Harvey Prize in 2005.  Dr. Gibson is the Project Scientist on the PUNCH Mission to observe the Sun.  Dr. Gibson is also committed to education and public outreach.

Watch Recording 

“What drives you forward?
Connecting School, Teams, and a Robotic Exploration to Outer Space”

Lindy Elkins-Tanton, PI of NASA Psyche Mission

Friday May 19th 2023 – watch recorded video

Sometimes people think scientists always knew what they wanted to do, and went straight at it from the age of five. My path was far curvier, and had as many downs as ups, on my way to leading a robotic NASA mission to a metal asteroid. Maybe it’s clearer in hindsight than it was moving forward, but I see now how my wish to work in teams where every person can succeed has driven most of my career choices. I’ll talk about my path from single mother to scientific leader. 

Lindy Elkins-Tanton is a planetary scientist, the Principal Investigator of the NASA Psyche mission, and Arizona State University Vice President of the Interplanetary Initiative. Her research concerns the formation and subsequent evolution of rocky planets, and processes of education for the future of society. She has led four field expeditions in Siberia. Asteroid (8252) Elkins-Tanton is named for her, as is the mineral elkinstantonite. In 2018 she was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, in 2021 she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, and in 2022 William Morrow published her memoir, A Portrait of the Scientist as a Young Woman. Elkins-Tanton received her B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. from MIT.


“Surfing Atmospheric Waves: How A Little Girl Who Was Good At Math Discovered A Career In Space Physics.”

Prof. Maura Hagan

Friday, March 17th, 2023 at 2pm ET, watch recorded video.

MAURA HAGAN is Professor Emerita of Physics at Utah State University (USU) and Senior Scientist Emerita at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Her research expertise is focused on the effects of space weather, meteorological disturbances, and global change on Earth’s upper atmosphere, including chemical/dynamical coupling, electrodynamic coupling between ionospheric plasma and the neutral thermosphere. Hagan earned her doctoral degree in physics at Boston College. She previously served in several NCAR leadership roles and as the USU Dean of the College of Science. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of both the American Geophysical Union and the American Meteorological Society.

The Road Taken: My Journey in Space Physics from IGY (1957) to the Present

Speaker: Peggy Shea

Friday, Jan. 20th, 2023 at 2pm ET, watch it here

Join us as Dr. Shea shares her journey from childhood to now. An avid fan of science, she was one of just three women to sign up for the College of Technology in 1954 at the University of New Hampshire. Overcoming many systematic barriers, she became the first woman to earn an advanced degree in physics from UNH.

Hired as an undergraduate to help with research monitoring cosmic rays on Mt. Washington and in Durham, she gained a wealth of knowledge, material for a thesis, and an entree into a field where she forged a 50-year career researching the interplay between cosmic rays and the Earth’s magnetic field. She has published more than 300 scientific papers, edited the journal Advances in Space Research, and won numerous awards.

January 2023 webinar
From stars to Einsteins Waves webinar

From Stars to Einstein’s Waves

An improbable path to a breakthrough discovery

Vicky Kalogera, Daniel I. Linzer Distinguished University Professor, Director of CIERA

Friday, November 18th, 2022 – watch it here: Video

Dr. Kalogera will speak about her experience in the leadership of the LIGO project which detected gravity waves.  She is also the author of the essay, “Not Taking ‘No’ for an Answer: Learning How to Persist and Persevere with a Smile”.

The Voyager Mission: 45 Years of Discovery

Aug. 19th 2022 – watch the Video


  • Dr. Nicola Fox – Heliophysics Division Director, SMD/NASA
  • Dr. Linda Spilker – Voyager Deputy Project Scientist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Prof. Merav Opher – Director of the NASA SHIELD DRIVE Science Centers; Professor of Astronomy, Boston University

Join us for this panel discussion to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the launch of Voyager as well as 20 years of exploration outside of the Heliopause. This panel will reflect on how the past discoveries of Voyager have shaped humanity’s understandings of the outer regions of the Solar System as well as the current and future observations in the Interstellar Medium influenced by the Heliosphere. Panelists will also highlight connections with current missions, such as IBEX and New Horizons, and future missions such as IMAP.  The panelists will reflect on the outstanding scientific puzzles that scientists are looking to solve through the future of exploration, and then conclude with a Q and A session.

The Voyager Mission: 45 Years of Discovery
Panelists Biographies

Dr. Nicola Fox is the Heliophysics Division Director in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC. Heliophysics is not only vital to understanding Earth’s most important and life-sustaining star, but the study of key space phenomena and processes supports situational awareness to better protect astronauts, satellites, and robotic missions exploring the solar system and beyond. Prior to her current role, Dr. Fox was the chief scientist for Heliophysics and the project scientist for NASA’s Parker Solar Probe – humanity’s first mission to a star.

Nicola Fox, Director of Heliophysics Division, SMD/NASA
Nicola Fox, Director of Heliophysics Division, SMD/NASA
Dr. Linda Spilker, Voyager Deputy Project Scientist, JPL
Dr. Linda Spilker, Voyager Deputy Project Scientist, JPL

Dr. Linda Spilker is a senior research scientist and Fellow at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory who has participated in NASA and international planetary missions at JPL for 45 years, including both the Voyager and Cassini missions, and studies of future mission concepts. Spilker’s mission roles include mission leadership as well as design, planning, operation and scientific data analysis. She is currently the Voyager Deputy Project Scientist, after serving for a decade as Cassini Project Scientist through the end of the mission. She worked in a science role on the Cassini project for 30 years and was a Co-I with the Cassini Composite Infrared Spectrometer team for almost 30 years. She also conducts independent research on the origin and evolution of planetary ring systems. She received her Ph.D. from UCLA.

Prof. Merav Opher is a Professor in the Astronomy Department at Boston University. Recently she was awarded the Radcliffe Fellowship 2021-2022 from Harvard Radcliffe Institute. She was recently awarded, as a Principal Investigator, one of the largest NASA DRIVE Science Centers called SHIELD. SHIELD is a multi-institutional effort with more than 40 leading scientists across a dozen institutions whose goal is to develop a new predictive global model for the heliosphere. She is actively involved in several space physics society leadership activities, such as being currently the Editor of Geophysical Research Letters.

Prof. of Astronomy, Boston University Director, NASA SHIELD DRIVE Center
Prof. of Astronomy, Boston University Director, NASA SHIELD DRIVE Center

Date: Friday, Nov. 12th, 2021 – 2:00 pm EST

Title: A Perspective on the James Webb Space Telescope

Speaker: Greg Robinson

Greg Robinson has over 30 years of experience with engineering, program and project management, and senior executive leadership at NASA. As Program Director of the James Webb Space Telescope (Webb), his focus is development efficiency, management processes, contractor performance, and mission success. Greg will share his perspective on the development of this latest NASA achievement and the potential scientific discoveries that it will reveal

Watch here

Greg Robinson
Greg Robinson

Date: Friday, Oct. 8th, 2021 – 2:00 pm EST

Title: Enabling Scientific Discovery

Speaker: Andrea I. Razzaghi

Andrea will share her journey from African American girl growing up in Washington, DC to senior NASA leader immersed in science, technology, and engineering. She will talk about the interplay between science and engineering in making the unknown known. Andrea will share exhilarating highlights from past missions where she played a significant role in enabling scientific discovery and will provide of preview of some exciting missions to come.

Andrea I. Razzaghi
Andrea I. Razzaghi

Date: Friday, Sept. 10th, 2021 – 2:00 pm EST

Title: Sonar, Esforzarse y Lograr: Reach, Strive, Achieve –From Costa Rica to Mars

Speaker: Sandra Cauffman, Director of the Earth Science Division, SMD, NASA

Mrs. Cauffman serves as the Deputy Director of the Earth Science Division, in the Science Mission Directorate at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Headquarters since May 2016. From February 2019 to June 2020 she served as the Acting Director of the Earth Science Division. She provides executive leadership, strategic direction, and overall management for the entire agency’s multi-billion Earth Science portfolio, from technology development, applied science, research, mission implementation, and operation.

Prior to joining NASA HQ, Mrs. Cauffman worked at the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) for 25 years as a civil servant (CS) and 3 years as a contractor prior to becoming a CS. Mrs. Cauffman joined NASA in February 1991, when she started as the Ground Systems Manager for the Satellite Servicing Project, where she supported missions such as Hubble Space Telescope (HST) First Servicing Mission, Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS), and Explorers Platform (EP)/Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer (EUVE).

Since then she has served in a number of roles: GOES I/M and N/P Instrument Manager, Project Formulation Office (PFO) Office Chief, Instrument Systems Manager for GOES-R, Deputy Project Manager for GOES-R, Assistant Director for the Flight Projects Directorate (code 400), Project Manager (PM) for the Gravity and Extreme Magnetism Small Explorer (SMEX) (GEMS), Deputy Project Manager for the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) Mission, and Deputy Systems Program Director for the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES)-R Series before moving to HQ.

Mrs. Cauffman has been awarded the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal and she is a two-time recipient of the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal. She is also a four times recipient of the NASA Acquisition Improvement Award, and numerous GSFC and HQ awards. She is a Senior Fellow on the Council for Excellence in Government. She is an Honorary Member of the National Academy of Sciences, Costa Rica. She is also an Honorary Member of the Colegio Federado de Ingenieros y de Arquitectos in Costa Rica. She received a B.S. in Physics, a B.S in Electrical Engineering and a M.S. in Electrical Engineering, all from George Mason University. Her profile has been highlighted by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women for being a positive example for women, especially, youth and children. Due to her extensive work in outreach and STEM in Costa Rica and Latin America, the Government of Costa Rica issued a stamp in her honor in 2017.

Watch it here

Sandra Cauffman, Director of the Earth Science Division, SMD, NASA
Sandra Cauffman, Director of the Earth Science Division, SMD, NASA

Date: July 9, 2021 – 2:00pm EST

Title: From Puerto Rico to Outer Space

Speaker: Mayra Natalia Hernandez Montrose

Ms. Mayra Montrose is Assistant Deputy Associate Administrator for Programs in the Science Mission Directorate (SMD) of NASA since December 2018. She served as Acting Deputy Associate Administrator for Programs from December 2019 to August 2020.
From 2015 to 2018 she was Program Executive for Earth Science Flight Missions in SMD, where she managed five spaceflight projects: monitoring solar irradiance (TSIS-1 on ISS), methane and carbon (GeoCarb), polar radiant energy (PREFIRE), surface mineralogy, and dust sources (EMIT) and plant health (ECOSTRESS).
She worked at the National Science Foundation (NSF) from 2006 to 2015, where she served as Manager of the Presidential National Medal of Science and the NSF Alan T. Waterman Award. She was also the Executive Secretary of the Committee on Science of the White House National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) that coordinates science policy for the U.S. Federal Government, and of the Committee on STEM Education of the NSTC.
Ms. Montrose began her professional career at NASA, where she managed programs, such as the Energy and Water National Applications in the Applied Sciences Program in SMD, the Education Program in the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, and the Life Sciences Small Payloads program in the Office of Life and Microgravity Sciences and Applications. Ms. Montrose worked for five years as Executive Officer to the NASA Chief Scientist. Ms. Montrose’s first job with NASA was at the Kennedy Space Center, where she worked as an experiment engineer. She has received numerous achievement awards acknowledging her significant contributions, including two from the European Space Agency and the German Space Agency, and the NASA Cooperative External Achievement Award for her efforts in serving as an interface with new prospective commercial partners of NASA.
She earned Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in Computer Engineering at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Ms. Montrose was born and raised in Puerto Rico.

Mayra Natalia Hernandez Montrose
Mayra Natalia Hernandez Montrose

Speaker: Laura Delgado López

Laura Delgado López is a Policy Analyst at the Policy Branch of the NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD). She is part of a team focused on providing policy support to SMD’s 90+ missions that span Astrophysics, Earth Science, Heliophysics, Planetary Science, as well as reimbursable projects for other agencies.
From July 2016 to November 2018, she was at Harris Corporation’s Space and Intelligence Systems Segment. As an advocacy lead she supported the business activities of the international, and environmental solutions teams. In addition to guiding the development of relationships with key customers, partners, and influencers, she provided the leadership team with analysis and advice of the relevant budgetary, policy, and regulatory developments that could impact current and future business activities.
Before joining Harris, Ms. Delgado López spent five years in the non-profit sector. She was a Project Manager at the Secure World Foundation (SWF), where she led the SWF Human and Environmental Security initiative as well as engagement with the Latin American space community. Of note are her recent positions as Earth Observations Associate at the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, and as a correspondent for Ms. Delgado López is a former Editor-in-Chief of Elsevier’s Space Policy journal, the premier peer-reviewed publication for the interdisciplinary study of space policy. In this role, she managed the timely coordination of the review and editing process of submitted manuscripts and worked with the publisher to guide the direction of the journal, identifying relevant policy issues for research and debate. She currently serves on the SWF Advisory Committee, providing input to the President and Executive Director concerning SWF’s mission and strategy and providing subject matter expertise to SWF leadership and staff.
Ms. Delgado López’s research has focused on issues related to Earth observations, space politics and policy, international cooperation, and public opinion. Her work has been featured in publications such as Space Policy, Astropolitics, Space News, among others, and has led to media appearances in major Spanish-speaking media outlets, including CNN en Español.
She holds a Master of Arts in international science and technology with a focus on space policy from the George Washington University. She was a 2009 Truman Scholar and a 2009-2010 Northrop Grumman Fellow at GWU’s Space Policy Institute. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Puerto Rico.

Watch it here

Laura Delgado López
Laura Delgado López

June 11, 2021 – 2:00pm EST

Title: Young Voices: Effects of distribution structure on predictions of plasma behavior in marginally unstable plasms.

Speaker: Dr. Emily Lichko

Dr. Lichko’s research focuses on kinetic plasma physics processes in space and astrophysical plasmas, in particular as they relate to questions of particle heating and nonlinear processes that affect the evolution of collisionless, anisotropic plasmas. She received her B.S. in Physics and Applied Mathematics from the University of Michigan in 2013 and her Ph.D. in 2020 from the University of Wisconsin –Madison, working under the supervision of Professor Jan Egedal. Dr. Lichko is currently an NSF AGS Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Arizona, working with Prof. Kristopher Klein on the effects of linear and nonlinearities physics on the onset and evolution of microinstabilities in space–relevant plasmas

Watch it here.

Dr. Emily Lichko
Dr. Emily Lichko

May 14, 2021 – 2:00pm EST

Title: A Path Towards Creating Effective Scientific Presentations

Speaker: Heather Elliott

This webinar is designed to set you on a path towards creating effective presentations. Presentations are a key way of advertising your work and an integral part of establishing collaborations. We go over general advice for making scientific presentations at conferences, and more formal presentations to clients and government agencies (e.g. NASA Preliminary
Design Reviews and Critical Design Reviews). The advice includes how to prepare presentations, and how to give presentations. We provide some advice for dealing with common problems encountered during presentations.
Additional links and references are provided to guide your journey towards being an effective presenter.

Dr. Elliott’s research focuses on the plasma properties of large‐scale solar wind structures, and Interplanetary Coronal Mass Ejections. Her work with ACE, Ulysses, New Horizons, OMNI, and Polar data has spanned a wide range of topics: solar wind, interstellar pickup ions, Jupiter’s magnetotail, ion outflow in Earth’s magnetosphere, comet tails, forecasting the Kp Index, and solar wind interaction with Pluto. Currently, she is the Deputy PI for the Solar Wind Around Pluto (SWAP) instrument on the New Horizons spacecraft. She is a Co‐I on the Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP) mission, the Polarimeter to UNify the Corona and Heliosphere (PUNCH) mission, and the SHIELD DRIVE Data Center. As an undergraduate, she was a summer student at Arecibo Observatory assisting with
ionospheric research, and her master’s work compared simulation results to thermospheric observations. Her Ph.D. dissertation examined how the solar wind affects the cold ion outflow that escapes from the ionosphere into the high altitude polar magnetosphere.

Watch it here

Heather Elliott
Heather Elliott

April 9, 2021 – 2:00pm EST

Title: Young Voices

Speaker: Parisa Mostafavi

Heliospheric shocks Propagating Beyond the Heliosphere: How Far Does the Sun’s Influence Extend into the Interstellar Medium?

Current spacecraft have identified many interesting discoveries about shocks’ structure in the outer heliosphere and the very local interstellar medium (VLISM). In this talk, I summarize how the structure of heliospheric shock waves changes with distance from the Sun. A two-fluid (thermal gas and nonthermal energetic particles) model has been used to study the shock structures observed in these regions. We show that a small percentage of the solar wind flow energy at the upstream of the heliospheric termination shock (HTS) is converted to downstream thermal heating, as it was observed by Voyager 2 and nonthermal energetic particles called pickup ions (PUIs) provide almost all the dissipative heating of the bulk flow energy at the HTS. Next, we study the inner heliosheath (IHS) medium and show that the IHS temperature mediation due to the presence of many shocks results in the more effective production of energetic neutral atoms (ENAs). The predicted ENA flux matches the observed IBEX ENA flux more closely when shock waves are present in the IHS. Voyager 1 and 2 crossed the heliopause in 2012 and 2018, respectively, and are both continue to make in-situ measurements of the VLISM for the first time. The first observed VLISM shock by Voyager 1 was extremely broad, exhibiting properties very different from those shocks in the heliosphere. We find that the VLISM is collisional with respect to the thermal plasma (unlike the collisionless heliosphere), and the broad VLISM shock structure is due to thermal particle collisions. Many interesting questions have been raised about shocks propagation by Voyager 1 and 2 traveling into the ISM. However, they were not instrumented properly to elucidate the physics of shocks in a completely different medium, and thus a dedicated spacecraft is needed. A future interstellar probe is the first deliberate mission to the interstellar medium through the outer heliosphere with the dedicated set of observations to answer the most debated questions about the heliosphere and discover our local interstellar neighborhood.

Speaker: Elena Provornikova

Interstellar Probe: a future mission to unravel mysteries of the heliosphere and its interstellar neighborhood

An Interstellar Probe mission to the local interstellar medium would bring new discoveries of physical mechanisms shaping our vast heliosphere and directly sample the unexplored Local Interstellar Cloud that our Sun is traveling through. Interstellar Probe would enable for the first time to explore the heliosphere edge with dedicated instrumentation, to take the image of the global heliosphere by looking back and explore in-situ the Sun`s interstellar neighborhood. The Interstellar Probe would represent Humanity’s first explicit step into the galaxy. In this presentation, I will give an overview of heliophysics science for the mission and discuss the compelling discoveries that await on the journey up to 1000 AU from the Sun.

Watch it here

Parisa Mostafavi
Parisa Mostafavi
Elena Provornikova
Elena Provornikova

March 12, 2021 – 2:00pm EST

Title: Experiences from the Voyager Interstellar Mission

Speaker: Charles Kohlhase

Charles Kohlhase led the design of many deep-space missions during his extended career, including Mariner, Viking, Voyager, and Cassini missions. For his sustained robotic exploration contributions over the last 40 years of the 20th century and solid success record, he received the NASA Distinguished Service Medal and has an asteroid, 13801 Kohlhase, named in his honor. The official naming citation was published by the Minor Planet Center on January 6, 2003 (M.P.C. 47300). He managed and guided the team which designed the epic Voyager Grand Tour mission to the outer planets and their moons and rings. After Voyager, Kohlhase became the science and mission design manager for the international Cassini–Huygens mission to Saturn and Titan. Following the launch, cruise, and Saturn orbit phases of Cassini, he has continued to advise NASA/JPL on numerous missions to Mars and to other worlds. In addition to his counsel on various review boards, Kohlhase has chaired the Mars Program Systems Engineering Team, composed of many senior experts spanning diverse disciplines. He is also a member of the Advisory Council for The Planetary Society.

Speaker: Suzanne Dodd

Suzanne Dodd is the Project Manager for the Voyager Interstellar Mission and Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Director for the Interplanetary Network Directorate. She became the Voyager Project Manager in 2010, returning to the project she first worked on after her college graduation. The Interplanetary Network Directorate oversees NASA’s Deep Space Network and Advanced Multi-Mission Operations System. She has over 30 years of experience in spacecraft operations, including project manager roles on the Spitzer Space Telescope and the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array. Suzanne worked at Caltech for 11 years as the Spitzer Space Telescope Science Center Manager and the Manager of the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center, NASA’s multi-mission center of expertise for long-wavelength astrophysics. Suzanne has also worked in the area of mission planning and uplink on the Cassini Mission to Saturn, the Mars Observer Project, and the Voyager Uranus and Neptune Missions.
Suzanne has a BS degree in Engineering and Applied Science from Caltech, a BA degree in Math/Physics from Whitman College, and an MS degree from the University of Southern California in Aerospace Engineering. She is the recipient of a NASA Exceptional Service Medal, NASA Public Service Medal, NASA Silver Achievement Medal, and NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal. She also has an honorary Ph.D. from New York University for her role in the Voyager Interstellar Mission.

Watch it here

Charles Kohlhase
Charles Kohlhase
Suzanne Dodd
Suzanne Dodd

February 12, 2021 – 2:00pm EST

Title: How discoveries are made: Finding the needle in a haystack

Speaker: Nancy Crooker, Boston University

Nancy U. Crooker is an American physicist and professor emerita of space physics at Boston University, Massachusetts. She has made major contributions to the understanding of geomagnetism in the Earth’s magnetosphere and the heliosphere, particularly through the study of interplanetary electrons and magnetic reconnection. Crooker has published 207 peer–reviewed articles across a range of topics within space physics. Her early career was as a postdoctoral researcher at Cornell University and then the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1970s. There, together with Joan Feynman in their seminal Nature paper, she was one of the first physicists to use geomagnetic data as a way to reconstruct solar activity prior to the space age. Crooker then developed the concept of anti–parallel merging of magnetic field lines in Earth’s magnetosphere published in Journal of Geophysical Research in 1979. In 1990, she returned to UCLA as an adjunct professor before making her final move to Boston University as a research professor in 1994. Around this time, Crooker switched focus from the magnetosphere to the heliosphere, in particular the interplanetary manifestations of coronal mass ejections. In 1997, she co–edited a monograph on coronal mass ejections. In 2002, she coined the term “interchange reconnection” for describing the dynamic process by which heliospheric magnetic flux introduced by coronal mass ejections is subsequently removed, a term which has been comprehensively adopted in the field. Crooker is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), where the fellowship program recognizes AGU members who have made exceptional contributions to Earth and space science through a breakthrough, discovery, or innovation in their field. She also received the prestigious Eugene Parker Lecture award from the AGU in 2013, only the third woman to do so. Crooker was president of the AGU Space Physics & Aeronomy Section from 2004 to 2006 and served on the AGU Board of Directors from 2010 to 2012.

Speaker: Dr Fran Bagenal

Dr. Fran Bagenal was born and grew up in England. She studied Physics and Geophysics at the University of Lancaster. In 1976, inspired by NASA’s missions to Mars and the prospect of the Voyager mission, she moved to the US for graduate study at MIT. Her 1981 Ph.D. thesis involved analysis of data from the Voyager Plasma Science experiment in Jupiter’s giant magnetosphere. She spent 1982–1987 as a post–doctoral researcher in space physics at Imperial College, London. Voyager flybys of Uranus and Neptune brought her back to the US and she joined the faculty at the University of Colorado, Boulder in 1989. She was a professor of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences until 2015 when she chose to focus on NASA’s New Horizons and Juno missions. She remains a research Scientist at the Laboratory of Atmospheric and Space Physics. In addition to the Voyager mission, Dr. Bagenal has been on the science teams of the Galileo mission to Jupiter and the Deep Space 1 mission to Comet Borrelly. She edited Jupiter Planet, Satellites, and Magnetosphere (Cambridge University Press, 2004). She’s on the plasma teams of the first two New Frontiers missions: the New Horizons mission that–after a 9.5–year flight –flew past Pluto on July 14, 2015 and Juno that went into orbit over the poles of Jupiter in 2016.

Watch it here

Nancy Crooker
Nancy Crooker
Dr Fran Bagenal
Dr Fran Bagenal

January 8, 2021 – 2:00pm EST

Title: Coming From Far Away Lands: How different backgrounds shape their careers

Speaker: Stamatios Krimigis

Dr. Stamatios Krimigis is Emeritus Head of the Space Exploration Sector at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), has built instruments that have flown to all 9 classical planets beginning with Mariner 4 to Mars in 1965, and is Principal Investigator on NASA’s Voyager 1, 2. Among his most recent awards are the National Air and Space Museum Trophy for Lifetime Achievement (2015), the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal (2016), and the Theodore von Karman Award (2017) of the International Academy of Astronautics. He has published more than 630 papers in peer–reviewed journals and books and is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), American Physical Society (APS), American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), and American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

Speaker: Parisa Mostafavi

Parisa Mostafavi is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory interested in investigating the structure and properties of the solar wind plasma both in the heliosphere and the interstellar medium. Parisa is from Iran and she graduated from Science and research university in Tehran with a BS in Engineering Physics (minor in plasma). Parisa got an MS in Plasma Engineering from Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran. Then she immigrated to the USA in 2014 to follow her dreams of a space science major. She got an MS in Space Science from the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). She was awarded her Ph.D. in Space Science, supported by the NASA Earth and Space Sciences Graduate Research Fellowship, at UAH under the advisement of Prof. GaryZank.Parisa received numerous awards and recognitions during the past years. She was recognized by the Dean of graduate studies at UAH for the Academic Excellence Award every year from 2015 to 2019. She also received the UAH College of Science Graduate Research Award in 2019. Recently, Parisa received the prestigious Fred L. Scarf Award which is given annually to one honoree in recognition of an outstanding dissertation that contributes directly to solar–planetary science. She is an honorary member of Phi–Kappa–Phi. She spent the last year of her Ph.D. working with Prof. Dave McComas at Princeton University where she was awarded the Visiting Student Research Collaborator position. She continued her collaboration with the Space Physics group at Princeton as a Visiting Research Collaborator. Her work focused on shock waves mediated by energetic particles. She developed a theoretical model and a numerical code to investigate the structure of the shock waves in the presence of the energetic particles in the heliosphere and the very local interstellar medium. Parisa Mostafavi has started working at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory as a Postdoctoral Fellow in 2019. She is currently working on many interesting projects such as modeling the inner heliosphere, analyzing the Parker Solar Probe data, and working on the future Interstellar Probe mission.

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Stamatios Krimigis
Stamatios Krimigis
Parisa Mostafavi
Parisa Mostafavi

November 20, 2020 – 1:30pm EST

Title: The Rewards of a Career in Space Physics: Opportunities and Choices

Speaker: Margaret Kivelson, UCLA and University of Michigan

Margaret Galland Kivelson is a Distinguished Research Professor of Space Physics at UCLA and a Research Professor at the University of Michigan. She received multiple degrees (A.B., M.A., and Ph.D.) from Radcliffe College, Harvard University, where her dissertation in Quantum Electrodynamics was supervised by Julian Schwinger. After a decade as a Consultant to the Rand Corporation in Santa Monica, CA, she redirected her interests to Space Physics, joining an active group at UCLA. She has contributed to the field as a theorist, as author of a widely used text book, and as an instrument Principal Investigator, most recently having joined the Europa Clipper mission as Team Leader for the Magnetometer investigation. Her honors include being an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, a Foreign Member of the Royal Society, recipient of the Alfvén and the Cassini medals of the European Geophysical Union, the Fleming medal of the American Geophysical Union, the Kuiper medal of the American Astronomical Society, and the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Speaker: Nicola Fox, NASA Headquarters

Nicola Fox is the Heliophysics Division Director in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC. Heliophysics is not only vital to understanding Earth’s most important and life-sustaining  star, but the study of key space phenomena and processes supports  situational awareness to better protect astronauts, satellites, and robotic missions exploring the solar system and beyond. Until August 2018, Fox worked at the Applied Physics Lab at the Johns Hopkins University in Laurel, Maryland, where she was the chief scientist for Heliophysics and the project scientist for NASA’s Parker Solar Probe –humanity’s first mission to a star. Fox is a proven leader with extensive project, program and supervisory experience, having served as the deputy project scientist for the Van Allen Probes, and the operations scientist for the International Solar Terrestrial Physics program. She has authored numerous scientific articles and papers in addition to delivering science presentations worldwide. In addition to her research, she is also keenly involved with science education and outreach activities. Fox was born in Hitchin, Hertfordshire in England. She graduated from The Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine in London with a BS in Physics. She received an MS in Telematics and Satellite Communications from the University of Surrey. She then returned to Imperial College to complete a PhD in Space and Atmospheric Physics. She has also previously worked at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, receiving a number of agency awards for outstanding performance.

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Margaret Kivelson
Margaret Kivelson
Nicola Fox
Nicola Fox

October 16, 2020 – 2pm EST

Title: A Path to Improving Writing Skills: Things I Didn’t Learn In School

SpeakerHeather Elliottt, Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio TX, and University of Texas-San Antonio, 

In this webinar, you will learn about:

  • psychology that hinders writing skills, and ways to overcome it
  • how to identify problematic aspects of your writing
  • how to write concisely for paged limited writing such as proposals
  • ways to organize your material while reducing repetition and having coherence, precision, and cohesion
  • key references for low-cost books that focus on improving writing and editing

Watch it here

Heather Elliott
Heather Elliott