Royal Astronomical Society Confers Honorary Fellowship on NRL Space Scientist

6/4/2007 - 27-07r
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Dr. James Klimchuk of NRL's Space Science Division has been elected an Associate Member (Honorary Fellow) of the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) in the United Kingdom. RAS awards Associate Membership status to honor individuals eminent in the fields of astronomy or geophysics, and is extended to not more than three astronomers and three geophysicists annually. Dr. Klimchuk was recognized for his pivotal role in the direction and science of solar physics over the last 20 years, both at the national and international levels.

As highlighted in the nomination letter, a critical element of Dr. Klimchuk's research is bridging the gap between theory and observations and using observations to motivate and test state-of-the-art theoretical models. He has made key contributions to a number of areas, including the structure, heating and dynamics of the solar atmosphere along with the study of dynamic phenomena such as coronal mass ejections, flares, and the solarwind. He has produced landmark papers on each of these important topics, which have resulted in wide-ranging implications for solar-system physics as a whole.

Dr. Klimchuk's current research focuses on understanding how the solar corona is heated to multi-million degree temperatures. Variable X-ray and ultraviolet emissions that result from this heating control the ionization, chemistry, and dynamics of the terrestrial atmosphere and impact such things as communication, navigation, and satellite drag. He has started to use data from NRL's Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrometer on the recently launched Hinode mission to test the idea that coronal heating takes the form of many small impulsive events called nanoflares.

Dr. Klimchuk has held significant positions on various American Astronomical Society Solar Physics Division (AAS SPD) committees since 1992, culminating in his election to Chairman of the AAS Solar Physics Division in 2005. As Chair of the Solar Physics Division, he has worked to strengthen funding for solar research and to create the SPD Education and Public Outreach Committee, which will play a central role in stimulating and coordinating efforts to bring the excitement of solar physics to schools, museums, and other public forums.

Currently president of the International Astronomical Union's Commission 10 (Solar Activity), Dr. Klimchuk previously served as vice president, successfully raising the profile of solar physics during this time by facilitating a number of IAU symposia focusing on solar phenomena. For over a decade, he has served as a member of numerous NASA steering groups, which have helped pave the way for many national and international space missions such as SoHO, TRACE, Hinode, STEREO and the forthcoming Solar Dynamics Observatory. These missions are key to the current and future advancement of solar physics and have revolutionized our understanding of the solar atmosphere. He has chaired a number of workshops and science working groups, and he has served on the editorial board of the journal Solar Physics since 2000.

Dr. Klimchuk holds a B.A. in physics from Kalamazoo College in Michigan, and a Ph.D. in astrophysics from the University of Colorado.

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