Dr. Joseph Huba Receives E.O. Hulburt Annual Science Award

10/5/2009 - 66-09r
Contact: Daniel Parry, (202) 767-2541

In recognition of a record of sustained superior performance of nearly 30 years in theoretical and computational plasma physics at the Naval Research Laboratory, Dr. Joseph Huba, head of the Space Plasma Physics Section of the Beam Physics Branch, is awarded the esteemed E.O. Hulburt Award-the highest award the NRL Commanding Officer can confer on an NRL civilian employee.

Dr. Huba has made considerable advances in a number of critical space plasma physics areas to include ionospheric physics, magnetic reconnection, non-ideal magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) processes, and the linear and nonlinear theory of kinetic and fluid plasma instabilities (most notably the lower-hybrid-drift instability). He has written a 2-D MHD code using an improved algorithm for plasma and magnetic field transport including resistivity, Hall dynamics, finite Larmor radius corrections and coupling to a neutral gas. He has also written a 3-D Hall MHD code (VooDoo) based upon a novel algorithm that he developed to study Hall reconnection physics.

Over the past decade Dr. Huba has led the development of unique computational models that have been used to study the dynamics of the Earth's ionosphere. The NRL ionosphere codes are named SAMI2 (two-dimensional) and SAMI3 (three-dimensional). SAMI2 was 'open sourced' in 2001 and is now widely used at universities and laboratories around the world for ionospheric physics research. Most recently, SAMI3 has been modified to study the dynamics of equatorial spread F (ESF). ESF is a post-sunset phenomenon that can degrade and interrupt communication and navigation systems through the destabilization of the equatorial ionosphere, allowing large-scale (10s km) electron density bubbles rise to high altitudes (over 1,000 km). Using the new code SAMI3/ESF, Dr. Huba and colleagues have performed the world's first self-consistent, three-dimensional simulations of ESF and made several new discoveries in the past year.

"Dr. Huba's research developments in near-earth space environment research has led to the most comprehensive, state-of-the-art ionospheric models being used in the world today," said Dr. Sidney Ossakow, former superintendent, NRL Plasma Physics Division. "It is an honor to present him with this most prestigious award for his continued contributions to Naval research and the scientific and academic community."

Born in Peekskill, N.Y., Joseph "Joe" Huba attended the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Ind., where he received a Bachelor of Science in physics in 1971, followed by a doctorate in plasma physics from the University of Maryland, College Park, Md., in 1975, completing his dissertation "Theoretical Studies of Selected Phenomena in Space and Laboratory Plasmas." Dr. Huba returned to the University of Maryland, College Park, Md., and received an M.B.A. in 1982.

From 1983 until 1989, Dr. Huba was head of NRL's Geophysical and Plasma Dynamics Branch, which was incorporated into the Space Plasma Branch in 1989. Subsequently Dr. Huba joined the Beam Physics Branch in 1993 and became head of the Space Physics Section in 1995. Prior to permanently joining NRL in 1981, Huba was a National Research Council/NRL Research Associate from 1975 to 1977 and employed at Science Applications, Inc., as a research scientist from 1977 to 1981.

Dr. Huba has over 140 journal publications, is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and was awarded an Editor's Citation for Excellence in Refereeing (Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics) in 1992, 1999, and 2003. Dr. Huba received an NRL Research Publication Award in 1981 and in 2004. He is a member of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), the American Physical Society, and the International Union of Radio Science (URSI). He was an Associate Editor for the Journal of Geophysical Research (1983-1986) and an Assistant Editor of the Reviews of Geophysics (2000-2003). He is a current member of the National Science Foundation's Coupling, Energetics, and Dynamics of Atmospheric Regions (CEDAR) scientific steering committee.

The E.O. Hulburt Award was established in December 1955, on the occasion of the retirement of Dr. E. O. Hulburt, NRL's first Director of Research.The establishment of the award expresses, in part, the sincere and high esteem in which Dr. Hulburt was held at NRL as well as in the scientific community.

Get NRL News: RSS

About the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory provides the advanced scientific capabilities required to bolster our country's position of global naval leadership. The Laboratory, with a total complement of approximately 2,500 personnel, is located in southwest Washington, D.C., with other major sites at the Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Monterey, Calif. NRL has served the Navy and the nation for over 90 years and continues to advance research further than you can imagine. For more information, visit the NRL website or join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Comment policy: We hope to receive submissions from all viewpoints, but we ask that all participants agree to the Department of Defense Social Media User Agreement. All comments are reviewed before being posted.