NASA Jack Eddy Scholar

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Natsuha Kuroda, NASA Jack Eddy Fellow.

One of the postdoctoral programs that CPAESS manages is NASA’s Jack Eddy “Living With a Star” Fellowship. The program matches early career PhDs with experienced scientists at U.S. research institutions. Hosting scientists mentor the postdoctorates during their two-year fellowships. The goal of the program is to train the next generation of researchers needed for the emerging field of Heliophysics.

Heliophysics embraces all science aspects of the Sun-Earth connection, and includes many of the basic physical processes that are found in our solar system, the laboratory, and throughout the universe. The study of heliophysics informs many critical and practical applications such as space weather impacts on earth weather and GPS signal interference.

One of our Class of 2018 students is Natsuha Kuroda who received her PhD from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. For her fellowship she chose to work with Dr. Martin Laming at the United States Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C. Dr. Kuroda’s project was on the Evaluation of the Magnetic Null Points as The Locations of The Solar Energetic Particle Seed Population Production.

 

To get a better idea of who she is and what she accomplished with her fellowship, Natsuha was kind enough to answer some questions.

 

What is your PhD in and what inspired you to study this field?

My PhD is in applied physics, specifically in solar physics. I had always some interest in space, and learned the fun of physics during my high school. When I was a physics major undergraduate, I learned about “space weather” and got specifically interested in what I am doing right now. I was hooked by the fact that things happening in the vast empty space outside of Earth’s atmosphere is changing every day and affecting our daily lives.

 

What did you hope to discover with your postdoctoral work?

I hoped to develop the method to predict the “seed population” of the harmful Solar Energetic Particles from the routine observation of the Sun. Currently, there is no direct observation of these “seed” particles, but they are thought to be extremely important in determining the severity of space weather events. I hoped to use my background knowledge I gained in radio and X-ray solar physics during my PhD to develop the new method in predicting these seed particles.

 

What did you end up discovering with your postdoctoral work?

My work is unfinished, and I am planning to continue the project at where I was hosted. I discovered though that the energetic electrons, which can be observed in radio wavelength, has still a lot more to be explored at the space where it wasn’t really focused before – at some height away from the vicinity of sunspot where “everything” has been thought to happen when events such as solar flares occur.  

 

Is there a pragmatic application to this sort of discovery?

Yes, the Solar Energetic Particles is one of the most harmful of space weather events as it can break the satellites in orbits and harm the astronauts. So its forecasting is crucial to modern society.

 

Is there anything you want to add?

I feel that the field of space weather is very special – it lets you work with the wonders of the universe while being critically needed by the society (you usually don’t get both, in my humble opinion). I feel lucky to have found passion in this field.

 

Thank you so much for giving us insight into your research, Natsuha. We wish you all the best as you continue your work and make new strides in this critical new field. 

 

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