Dr. Paul Bernhardt Receives Sigma Xi Award

11/14/2006 - 63-06r
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Dr. Paul A. Bernhardt, a senior research physicist in the Plasma Physics Division at the Naval Research Laboratory, has received the 2006 Sigma Xi Applied Science Award. Dr. Bernhardt is recognized "for innovation and influential contributions to the science and technology of radio-tomographic imaging of disruptive irregularities in space plasmas." He received the award at a special ceremony on October 5.

Winners of this award are selected for their distinguished contributions to pure and applied science during their research at NRL. The awards are given to encourage investigation in pure and applied science and to promote the spirit of scientific research at NRL.

The award nomination recognizes Dr. Bernhardt for the development of new computer algorithms and a global constellation of satellite-based radio beacon sensors to detect the image harmful structures in the Earth's ionosphere. His work provides detection and mitigation for ionospheric effects on navigation, communication and radar systems used by both DoD and civilian agencies.

Dr. Bernhardt received his B.S. degree in electrical engineering from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1971; his Masters degree in 1972 and Ph.D. in 1976, also in electrical engineering, from Stanford University. He was a design engineer at the Naval Missile Center, Pt. Mugu, California, from 1971 to 1973. Dr. Bernhardt held the positions of post doctorate research affiliate, research associate, and senior research associate at Stanford University from 1976 to 1980. Starting in 1981, he was a member of the technical staff of the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Dr. Bernhardt joined NRL in 1987 as a research physicist in the Plasma Physics Division. He was promoted to his current position as senior research physicist in 1990. Dr. Bernhardt's research interests have been primarily in the areas of ionospheric modification with high power radio waves and chemical releases and satellite based radio-beacon sensing of space plasmas.

Dr. Bernhardt used the high-power HF facility near Arecibo, Puerto Rico, and Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, from 1985 to 1999, to record the first Charged Coupled Device CCD images of artificial aurora at mid latitudes. These images illuminated natural and artificial irregularities in the ionosphere. He served on the Arecibo Users and Science Advisory Council from 1992 to 1994. Dr. Bernhardt is currently sponsored for ionospheric modification research by the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) in Alaska.

Dr. Bernhardt has pioneered the use of chemical releases to study the ionosphere. His ionospheric modification experiments have been monitored with Incoherent Scatter Radar (ISR) systems around the world and with in situ plasma probes provided by NRL's Plasma Physics Division. The 1992 NRL Ionospheric Focused Heating (IFH) experiment combined chemical release and high-power radio wave technology to produce the highest level of plasma turbulence ever measured with the Arecibo ISR. Dr. Bernhardt has conducted over eight experiments from 1985 to the present, using the Space Shuttle Orbital Maneuver Subsystem (OMS) engines, to modify the ionosphere with high-speed exhaust injections into the upper atmosphere. The results of these dedicated engine burns have been recorded using the VHF and UHF radars at Arecibo, Puerto Rico; Kwajalein, Marshall Islands; Millstone Hill, Massachusetts; and Jicamarca, Peru. Currently, Dr. Bernhardt is the principal investigator for the Charged Aerosol Release Experiment (CARE) program, designed to study the scattering of radar from electrons in the vicinity of charged particulates that form artificial "dusty plasmas."

The Coherent Electromagnetic Radio Tomography (CERTO) and Computerized Ionospheric Tomography Receiver in Space (CITRIS) programs were started at NRL by Dr. Bernhardt to provide global, satellite-based sensors of ionospheric space weather. In the next four years, ten CERTO beacons and one CITRIS receiver are scheduled to be launched on low-earth-orbit (LEO) satellites that will monitor both integrated electron densities and plasma irregularities. The data from these sensors will provide "now-casting" for navigation and communications system outages caused by the ionosphere with one-hundred times better resolution than are provided by GPS radio signals. The CERTO and CITRIS programs are supported by the Plasma Physics Division and NRL's Naval Center for Space Technology.

Dr. Bernhardt has published over 100 papers in ionospheric and space physics. He holds patents for hyper-spectral imaging and radio beacon design. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) as a member of the Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Society. Dr. Bernhardt is a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) through the Division of Plasma Physics. He is also a member of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). For AGU, Dr. Bernhardt has been an associate editor of the Journal of Geophysical Research (JGR) and the journal Radio Science as well as a member of the AGU Books Board Editor. He is also a member of the International Union of Radio Science (URSI) where he was Chairman of the US Commission on Waves in Plasmas from 1994-1997. He is a member of the Nuclear and Plasma Science Society (NPSS) of the IEEE. Dr. Bernhardt is currently a member-at-large of the US National Commission of URSI.

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