Montana State University

Solar Physics News


March 2011

Congratulations to Silvina Guidoni and J. Lewis Fox: Both successfully defended their PhD dissertations!

And congratulations to Dr. Andrés Muñoz-Jaramillo, one of our recent alumni, for winning a prestigious Jack Eddy LWS postdoctoral fellowship. His proposal was one of only three selected from 30 submissions.


November 2010

Congratulations to Maria Kazachenko for successfully defending her PhD dissertation!

October 2010

Congratulations to Sabrina Savage for successfully defending her PhD dissertation! Way to go, Doc Savage.

August 2010

Congratulations to Ernest Amouzou and Chris Lowder for successfully passing the written component of the PhD comprehensive exam!

July 2010

Congratulations to Sabrina Savage and Maria Kazachenko for winning postdoc positions! In separate competitions, each of them has won funding for their first jobs after PhD graduation: Savage will take a postdoc position supported by NASA, mentored by Dr. Gordon Holman at GSFC; and Kazachenko will take a position at UC-Berkeley supported by NSF and mentored by Dr. George Fisher. Well done!

June 2010

The MSU Solar Physics group hosted the annual Hinode/XRT Team Meeting, June 16-18. For three days, the XRT team discussed technical and operations issues, and the latest scientific results. Click for links to the Meeting Website, and free public concert.

May 2010

Congratulations to Anna Malanushenko for successfully defending her PhD Dissertation! That's Dr. Malanushenko now.

February 2010

MSU is a Co-Investigator in NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) mission, now scheduled to be launched Wednesday, February 10 at 10:26 EST (8:26 MST). For up-to-the-minute information, see SDO's website. MSU's news story here.

Congratulations to Dave Klumpar and the SSEL team for securing a launch of Explorer-1 Prime! This will be the first time that an MSU satellite will be launched from the United States. It will also be the first time that miniature satellites made at any U.S. university will fly on a NASA mission. MSU's satellite is one of three that will accompany the NASA mission. MSU's news story here.


August 2009

Congratulations to Charles Kankelborg, Dave Klumpar, and the entire SSEL team for their parts in attracting NASA support for the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) project. IRIS fills a large gap in our knowledge of the solar atmosphere by tracing the flow of energy and plasma through the chromosphere and transition region into the corona using spectrometry and imaging in three ultraviolet windows. The unprecedented combination of high angular resolution, short temporal cadence, good spectral resolution, and high-speed data transmission will provide information critical to understanding the lower boundary of the heliosphere as well as fundamental astro- and plasma-physical processes. IRIS is a NASA small explorer mission ($105M) that completed a phase A concept study in December 2008 and was recently selected by NASA to continue into the hardware phase. The IRIS Program is led by Lockheed Martin with Alan Title as PI. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) will provide the telescope and participate in science and education/public outreach (EPO). Montana State University (MSU) will participate in the uv spectrometer design, will specify, procure, and test the spectrometer optics, will participate in the integration and test of the spectrometer at Lockheed Martin in Palo Alto, will participate in the science and EPO. MSU will also provide the Gegenschein Imager (GI) instrument, as a student collaboration if funding is available.

MSU's news story here.

April 2009

Congratulations to David McKenzie for being selected as the 2009 winner of the College of Letters and Science Award for Meritorious Research and Creativity. The award is based on the significance and lasting effect of the awardee's research or creative achievement, and evidence of its broad impact or recognition.


December 2008

Congratulations to Charles Kankelborg on his selection for a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). This Presidential Award is the highest honor bestowed by the US Government on scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers. Nominations for the PECASE award come from various federal agencies, including NSF and NASA, and are intended to recognize some of the finest scientists and engineers who, while early in their research careers, show exceptional potential for leadership at the frontiers of scientific knowledge during the twenty-first century. The Office of Science and Technology Policy is scheduling an award ceremony and reception at the White House. Read MSU's news article here.

June 2008

MSU hosted the International Workshop on Solar Variability, Earth's Climate, and the Space Environment, June 2008. The official website for the Workshop is here.


September 2007

Congratulations to Sabrina Savage for successfully passing the written and oral components of the PhD comprehensive exam!

And it is with pleasure that we welcome Dr. Junho Shin, a new postdoctoral researcher joining the MSU Solar Physics Group.

July 2007

Congratulations to newly-minted PhD Angela DesJardins, who successfully defended her thesis "The Topology of Magnetic Reconnection in Solar Flares"!

Also in July, MSU alumnus Dr. Jonathan Cirtain (MSU 2005) won the Young Scientist Award of the International Association of Geomagnetism and Aeronomy/International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics. This award was announced at the Annual Meeting in Perugia, Italy.

June 2007

Congratulations to Assistant Professor Jiong Qiu! At the June meeting of the American Astronomical Society she received the 2007 Karen Harvey Prize, which is awarded for a significant contribution to the study of the Sun early in a person's professional career.

Maria Kazachenko has been awarded a NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship for the 2007/2008 year (renewable for up to two more years), to study "Creation of Twisted Flux in Solar Eruptions". According to her award letter, "A total of 21 Heliophysics Research applications were received, of which we were able to offer four (4) awards. Competition was intense, so being selected is a real mark of distinction." Congratulations, Masha!


September 2006

The Japan/US/UK Solar-B mission was successfully launched on September 22, and subsequently named Hinode (Japanese for "sunrise"). MSU is a Co-I institution on the X-Ray Telescope (XRT), and will assist in Mission Operations and Data Analysis. You can see images from the launch here, replay the video here (slow link), and see MSU's press release here.

February 2006

The MOSES sounding rocket (PI Charles Kankelborg) successfully flew from White Sands Missile Range on Wednesday, February 8---Congratulations to the MOSES team! The MSU news item is here, and one example image from the flight is here (PNG image format). Way to go team!


October 2005

It is with pleasure that we welcome Dr. Tim Howard, a new postdoctoral researcher joining the MSU Solar Physics Group.

September 2005

Congratulations to Trae Winter for successfully passing the oral component of the PhD comprehensive exam!

August 2005

The MSU Solar Physics Group is excited to welcome Dr. Jiong Qiu, who is joining the group as an Assistant Professor this fall.

July 2005

Congratulations to Trae Winter for winning not one but two Outstanding Student Paper Awards at the recent meeting of the American Geophysical Union. Way to go Trae!

March 2005

Congratulations to Jonathan Cirtain who successfully defended his PhD dissertation!

Physics undergraduate Jason Scott has won the "2005 Dean's Award for Excellence as the Outstanding Graduating Senior in Sciences".

And, adding a feather to his cap, Jason won a NASA/Goddard Graduate Student Researchers Program fellowship with Dr. Joe Gurman as his Goddard Technical Advisor, and Piet Martens as academic advisor. Congratulations Jason!


November 2004

Congratulations to Jonathan Cirtain for successfully passing the oral component of the PhD comprehensive exam!

September 2004

Congratulations to Physics graduate students Jonathan Cirtain and Henry (Trae) Winter, who recently passed the comprehensive exams at the PhD level.

April 2004

Congratulations to Andrew Holt and Angela DesJardins for successfully passing the oral component of the PhD comprehensive exam!

February 2004

This month, the MSU University News featured a story on the NASA's selection of AIA for the Solar Dynamics Observatory.

February 2004

We welcome Dr. Louise Harra and Dr. Daniel Tye from Mullard Space Science Laboratory for February and March, 2004.

January 2004

We welcome Dr. Mark Linton from NRL for January 2004.


October 2003

We welcome 2003-2004 Harlow Shapley Visiting Lecturer Professor John H. Thomas of the University of Rochester, who will give two talks during his visit:

  • OUR RESTLESS, MAGNETIC SUN, a free public American Astronomical Society Shapley lecture on Friday, October 31, 7:30 pm in the Hager Auditorium of the Museum of the Rockies,
  • MAGNETIC PUMPING AND THE STRUCTURE OF SUNSPOTS , the MSU Physics Department colloquium on Friday, October 31, 4:10 pm in EPS 108.

  • September 2003

    NASA has accepted the AIA proposal submitted by Lockheed Martin Solar & Astrophysics Lab, with Alan Title as PI. AIA is the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly, the UV/EUV imager for the Solar Dynamics Observatory. Piet Martens and David McKenzie are MSU Co-Investigators on this proposal; MSU will have a significant role in operations, data analysis, E&PO, and the development of data analysis software.

    September 2003

    Congratulations to first-year Physics graduate student Angela Colman DesJardins and second-year Physics Graduate student Andrew Holt , who recently passed the comprehensive exams at the PhD level.

    September 2003

    We welcome research scientist and solar computer system administrator Dr. Keiji Yoshimura to the MSU Solar Physics group. He is an expert on computer system management, having managed the solar computers at the Institute of Space and Astronautical Sciences and Kwasan & Hida Observatories of the University of Kyoto. He is an accomplished solar physicist, as well, specializing in the analysis of optical, X-ray, and EUV data from ground and space-based observatories. He obtained his PhD from Kyoto University in 1999, writing his thesis on soft X-ray brightenings above emerging flux regions. He is accompanied by his wife Dr. Aki Takeda (an accomplished solar physicist in her own right) and their son Yufu. His office is EPS 256, formerly occupied by his predecessor in the solar system administrator job, Alisdair Davey.

    August 2003

    We bid fond farewell to Postdoctoral Fellow Bob Leamon who is now an EIT Planner at Goddard Space Flight center.

    April 2003

    We bid fond farewell to two group members. Postdoctoral Fellow Tetsuya Magara is now at the Solar Theory Section of the Solar Terrestrial Relationships Branch (STR), Space Science Division of the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC. Research Scientist Jun Sato has returned to the Solar Physics group at the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science in Sagamihara, Japan.

    April 2003

    Congratulations to Meredith Wills-Davey, who presented her PhD thesis ``Propagating Disturbances in the Lower Solar Corona'' to her committee on April 16th, and has started her new job at Southwest Research Institute's Department of Space Studies in Boulder, Colorado.

    January 2003

    Congratulations to Dana Longcope, who is the first recipient of the American Astronomical Society Solar Physics Division's Karen Harvey Prize, its new early career award for significant contributions to the study of the Sun. Click here for the MSU news release.


    October 2002

    We welcome Dartmouth College undergraduate physics major Sarah Jones for a ten-week REU program. She worked with Bob Leamon on magnetic flux ropes, continuing the work Brian Lundberg did last summer.

    September 2002

    Congratulations to Loren Acton, who has received Montana State University's top alumni honor, the Blue and Gold award for "his exemplary service to the scientific community and the nation".

    July 2002

    We welcome visiting professor Eric Priest from St. Andrews University, Scotland, who gave a beneficial series of lectures on MHD to the graduate students and REU program participants.

    May 2002

    We welcome postdoctoral fellow Dibyendu Nandi, who recently finished his thesis work on Babcock-Leighton type solar dynamos at the Department of Physics of the Indian Institute of Science.

    February 2002

    Congratulations to Brian Welsch on his successful defense of his PhD thesis "Magnetic helicity generation in the quiet Sun". Brian now holds a postdoctoral fellowship at the Space Science Laboratory at the University of California, working on the Solar MURI project.

    January 2002

    We host the Yohkoh 10th Anniversary Meeting on Multi-Wavelength Observations of Coronal Structure and Dynamics. Yohkoh, a mission of Japan's Institute of Space and Astronautical Sciences with the cooperation of the United States and United Kingdom was launched a decade ago on 30 August 1991 and ended in December 2001. This scientific meeting was organized in celebration of ten years of successful scientific operation of Yohkoh, which played an important role in the formation of the MSU solar group.


    November 2001

    We welcome Postdoctoral Fellow Stéphane Régnier to the solar research group. He recently finished his PdD Thesis entitled "Study of solar magnetic structures observed by SOHO. 3D magnetohydrodynamic modelisation" at the Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale, Orsay, France. He currently works on the 3D magnetic configuration of solar active regions in order to determine the origin, mechanism and frequency of eruptive events such as filament eruptions, flares and CMEs. This work is a part of the Solar MURI project.

    September 2001

    We welcome three incoming students to the solar research group -- check out their web pages to find out more about them: Jonathan Cirtain and Melissa Cirtain from the University of Memphis, working on the TRACE mission and the MOSES rocket respectively, and Andrew Holt, working with Dana Longcope on magnetic reconnection in the corona.

    August 2001

    Angela Colman was given an Outstanding Student Paper Award by the American Geophysical Union for her paper with Dick Canfield entitled "Preflare Phenomena in Eruptive Flares" presented at the American Geophysical Union, Spring Meeting 2001. This follows on her selection by the MSU Physics Department as the outstanding senior MSU physics major for 2001.

    July 2001

    Meredith Wills-Davey was selected as an American Dissertation Fellow by the AAUW (American Association of University Women) Educational Foundation. These fellows are women from all disciplines near completion of their dissertation work. The fellowship emphasizes not only Ph.D. studies for women, but also focuses on gender in education and involvement in community outreach.

    March 2001

    Congratulations to Tim Slater. He has been selected to receive the College of Letters and Science Outstanding Teaching Award for 2001. Also, his protege Erika Offerdahl, a student in the Directed Interdisciplinary Studies program, was chosen for the Dean's Award for Excellence (outstanding graduating senior). Tim nominated her for this award.

    February 2001

    We welcome Dr Mark Linton from NRL for February and March 2001.


    November 2000

    The Yohkoh SXT "Nuggets" Weekly Science Notes, has been chosen as a selection for the Scout Report for Science & Engineering (September 13, 2000), the premier biweekly collection of useful Internet sites for researchers, educators, and students in the life sciences, physical sciences, and engineering. Our target audience is science and engineering academics: faculty, students, staff, and librarians. The Scout Report for Science & Engineering is provided by the Internet Scout Project, an NSF-funded, university-based project at University of Wisconsin-Madison. The Internet Scout Project's (scientific) mission is to make the Internet more useful and accessible to researchers and educators in the sciences. Among several other reports, we put out the biweekly 'Science and Engineering Report' which summarizes 25 websites featuring noteworthy research (including government) organizations, high-quality research/education resources, academic discussion sites (listservs), new scientific journals (or newly online journals with completely free access), newly released databases with free access, new grants and job opportunities, upcoming scientific meetings, recent academic publications, and a host of other topics.

    October 2000

    Congratulations to Dana Longcope who is one of 59 scientists nationwide to receive this year's Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

    September 2000

    Congratulations to solar graduate students Elizabeth Noonan and Rebecca McMullen, who passed the written comprehensive exams at the PhD level on the first try!

    July 2000

    In July we said a fond farewell to Dr. Alex Pevtsov in true solar group style, with a party ! Alex has left us to work at the National Solar Observatory, Sunspot, New Mexico. We wish him all the best.

    June 2000


    When in Montana...

    If you are a visitor to our group, you will find that there are certain things you have to do when you are here. One of them is enjoy the amazing scenery ! Tetsuya Magara, Arnab Choudhuri and his graduate student Dibyendu Nandi, got led up the mountain path quite literally ! Here they get to enjoy the beauty of Pioneer Falls and the Spanish Creek near Bozeman. Click on the pictures for full sized images.

    The Proceedings of IAU 195 rolled off the presses on June 19, and have been mailed to the participants. The table of contents, cover page, abstracts, and foreword are on-line at the IAU 195 page.

    May 2000


    Congratulations Prof. Richard Canfield - 2000 Wiley Award Winner.

    A solar physicist who discovered a simple way to predict solar storms was of two winners of this year's Charles and Nora L. Wiley Award for Meritorious Research and Creativity from MSU. Richard Canfield, a research professor of physics, will receive $2,000. Canfield is a nationally prominent solar scientist credited with discovering the S-shaped structures that appear on the sun's surface when a hazardous solar storm is about to occur. Canfield has been a major factor behind the success of the MSU Solar Group. He has played a key role in many successful cooperative enterprises in solar research, including leadership in the Japanese/U.S./British mission known as "Yohkoh." He has planned and directed several projects that involved the study of "Yohkoh" information and data from ground-based observatories.


    We welcome Prof. Arnab Rai Choudhuri and Dr. Tetsuya Magara to MSU.

    Prof. Choudhuri, from the Department of Physics, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India will be here for two months, May and June. He is an expert on astrophysical magnetohydrodynamics and plasma physics, and will collaborate with us on solar dynamo theory and related topics. He will conduct a series of lectures on the physics of fluids and plasmas for astrophysicists at the graduate level, starting Wednesday, May 10. His e-mail address is

    Dr. Magara, from Hida Observatory of the University of Kyoto, Japan, will be here for one or more years as a postdoctoral fellow. He, too, is an expert on magnetohydrodynamics, specializing in numerical modeling, and will work with Dana Longcope and others on MHD processes of importance for understanding solar coronal mass ejections. His email address is

    These two scientists will share Room 212.

    April 2000

    We congratulated and said goodbye to Dr Mark Weber following his Ph.D (Thesis title: "Rotation Patterns in the Large-Scale Solar Corona" [December 1999]) graduation. After a stint as one of the editors of the IAU 195 proceedings, Mark left us to work with Peter Sturrock as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Physics Department and the Center for Space Science and Astrophysics at Stanford.

    March 2000

    Professor Loren Acton - 2000 Hale Prize Winner

    Professor Loren Acton is the winner of the 2000 Hale Prize. The Solar Physics Division of the American Astronomical Society sponsors with the cooperation of the American Astronomical Society, an Honorary Prize in memory of George Ellery Hale, awarded to a scientist for outstanding contributions to the field of solar astronomy. 

    February 2000

    Feb 23, 2000: Congratulations to Angela Colman, who was awarded the MSU Alumni - Chamber of Commerce Award for Excellence for her exemplary academic achievement and community service. In turn, she chose Dick Canfield as the influential faculty member she would like to recognize.

    January 2000

    SOLAR RESEARCH SCIENTISTS: The Solar Group at MSU invites applications for two research positions, Data Analyst and MHD Theorist, to study the physics of solar magnetic fields, the initiation of coronal mass ejections (CMEs), and the relationship of CMEs to space weather at Earth. Click here for more details.


    December 1999

    Sky and Telescope select

    as the 10th most inspiring
    astronomical image
    of the century

    Sky and Telescope magazine has been running an online poll to select the 10 most inspiring astronomical images of the *century*. The results are announced (and shown) in the January 2000 issue. The #10 winner is a 1991 Yohkoh image of the X-ray Sun.

    November 1999

    Mercury Transit
    Brian Handy put together this page on November's transit of Mercury, as seen by TRACE.
    FACULTY POSITION IN EXPERIMENTAL SPACE PHYSICS - The Department of Physics at Montana State University invites applications for a tenure-track faculty position at the rank of assistant professor with the possibility of associate or full professor rank for an exceptionally well-qualified applicant, starting August 16, 2000 (contingent upon funding). Click here for more details.

    August 1999

    Weekly Notes from the Yohkoh Soft X-Ray Telescope - The nuggets have been transformed !
    These weekly science notes are intended to give an unspecialised but scientifically fluent view of ongoing X-ray observations of the Sun from the Soft X-Ray Telescope (SXT) aboard the orbiting Yohkoh satellite. A nugget is a lump, esp. of native gold or other precious metal. These weekly science notes are nuggets, in the sense that they may have a rough exterior, but they have a precious substance beneath the surface. 

    July 1999

    IAU 195 was held at Montana State University during July. Paper submissions are now due. Click on the image on the left for instructions.

    June 1999

    Congratulations to Alex Pevtsov and Dick Canfield on the publication of their book Magnetic Helicity in Space and Laboratory Plasmas

    Mar 9 1999

    NASA Press Release on Coronal Mass Ejections
    Scientists will announce on Tuesday, March 9, 1999, their discovery of a possible way to forecast several days in advance the largest and most violent explosions on the Sun's outer atmosphere. The explosions, called coronal mass ejections, are as powerful as billions of nuclear explosions and can affect radio communications, electrical power systems and satellites orbiting Earth. Features work done by Dick Canfield and Dave McKenzie.

    March 1 1999

    The solar group welcomed Scott Wendt as its new assistant system manager.

    January 1 1999

    The solar group welcomed a new member, Dr Piet Martens, Associate Research Professor and we said goodbye to Aaron Benner who left to reap the reward of his hard work in industry.

    October 1998

    Dave McKenzie and Tim Slater published an article titled A Space-Age Portrait of the Active Sun in the October 1998 issue of The Physics Teacher magazine, a publication of the American Association of Physics Teachers. "In the last 50 years, developments in astronomical techniques have allowed us to view the solar atmosphere directly and to view it every day This has revealed fascinating and beautiful physics." The solar group is featured in the Fall edition of The Collegian - The article details some of the solar research done at MSU, particularly involving Yohkoh. Prominently mentioned, are Loren Acton, Dick Canfield and Dana Longcope. The article also includes a group photo.


    September 1998

    The solar group welcomes Angela Colman, who is working working with Dick Canfield.

    August 1998

    The National Science Foundation awarded $375,000 to Montana State University in response to the proposal "High-Performance Network Connection in Support of Meritorious Research at Montana State University." This project is under the direction of H. David Todd, Director of Information Services. Co-Investigators are Gwen Jacobs and John Miller, Center for Computational Biology, and Dick Canfield and Loren Acton, Department of Physics.

    Sean Sandborgh was chosen for the NASA Academy at Goddard Space Flight Center this summer and won the Goddard award for contributing the most to his project.

    July 1998

    Brian Handy successfully defended his PhD thesis and became the first student to graduate in solar physics at MSU. Photos from the celebration at Acton's acre include the extended solar group, which on this occasion included summer visitor Eric Priest (St. Andrews) and his family and Brian's Lockheed thesis advisor Karel Schrijver, and some of Brian's extended family from Palo Alto, as well as a measure of Montana-sized appetites.

    March 1998

    Dana Longcope won a prestigious early career award from the National Science Foundation in response to his proposal "A model of magnetic reconnection driving large scale activity in a complex solar corona."

    Sean Sandborgh was selected for the Second Undergraduate Research Poster Session on Capitol Hill on April 21, 1998.

    January 1998

    The solar group gladly welcomed Alisdair Davey as its newest research scientist and system manager.


    September 1997

    Meredith Wills successfully completed both the written and the oral parts of the comprehensive exam.

    August 1997

    The solar group gladly welcomes Aaron Benner as our new part-time student system manager, while bidding farewell to Michael Foley.

    June 27 - July 1, 1997

    The 28th meeting of the AAS Solar Physics Division was held here at MSU in Bozeman, Montana.
    Photos from various SPD events can be found here.

    June 1997

    David Weston left the MSU solar group to join the Physics Technology group at the Boeing Company and is now the lead physicist on the Resource21 commercial remote sensing venture.

    March 27, 1997

    Sean Sandborgh was awarded a Goldwater Scholarship.

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