I entered the MSU physics graduate program in the Fall
of 2011 and am pursuing a PhD with research in solar physics. As
Fellow I am working on the topic of solar-stellar connections and
using Sun-like stars to learn more about the solar dynamo.
I received my B.S. in physics in 2003 from the
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities followed by seven years of
software development work for the Compact Muon Solenoid project at
CERN. After leaving CERN in 2010 I worked briefly at the Observatório
Nacional in Rio de Janeiro before coming to Montana to resume my
The following topics are interests for my PhD thesis
The solar cycle. The roughly 11-year solar cycle modulates
many solar phenomenon including the number of sunspots, the solar
irradiance, as well as the frequency of flares and CMEs. What is
responsible for this cycle, and for the subtle variations of it? What
determines the period of the cycle, and did the period vary throughout
the life of the Sun? What has its impact been on the history of the
Earth and the Solar System?
Sun-like stars. Are there any solar twins out there, with
comparable mass, composition, spectral features, and magnetic cycle?
In this context, is the Sun's variability normal or abnormal? What
are the essential parameters which determine the magnetic activity of
Helio/Astro-seismology. Like regular seismology, we use
the acoustic waves travelling through the object to learn about the
conditions of the interior, which can't otherwise be measured.
Astroseismology allows measurement of stellar parameters crucial to
the working of the magnetic dynamo.
Magnetic cycle Grand Minnima. During the "Maunder Minima"
the 11-year solar cycle inexplicably stopped between 1645 and 1715, as
sunspots became exceedingly rare. How frequent are these cessations
of activity? What causes their onset, and what causes the cycle to
later start up again?
The faint young Sun paradox. Stellar models predict that
the ancient young Sun was only 70% as intense as it is today, and
would provide insufficient energy for the Earth to have a liquid
ocean. However, geological and paleontological evidence show that the
Earth did have a liquid ocean and at times was quite warm and humid.
What is the explanation for this contradiction?
These topics are also interesting to me, but not
closely related to my thesis reseach. Maybe I'll look into it
Large-scale scientific computing. Every sub-field of
science is transitioning into a new era where increases in data volume
necessitate new approaches to data analysis, as well as opening up new
possibilities for discovery. For solar physics, I am interested in
finding ways to use expansive datasets such as from the SDO mission to
do large-scale statistical studies that were not possible in previous
Acceleration of particles by the Sun. The Sun has the
largest and most active magnetic field in the solar system and is the
best place for us to study natural particle acceleration processes in
detail. The same events which are responsible for impressive solar
flares and coronal mass ejections are responsible for accelerating
particles anywhere from 1 MeV up to the GeV scale. These mechanisms
are likely analogous to those which accelerate ultra-high-energy
cosmic rays, where kinetic energies exceeding 10^20 eV have been
Coronal mass ejections, solar wind, and the space environment.
Coronal mass ejections are solar events whose effects may be felt here
on Earth. The acceleration of asteroid-sized amounts of material into
space and the subsequent impact with the Earth's magnetic field is
responsible for the auroras as well as for radio and satellite
disturbances which have an impact on our modern way of life.
Structure of the heliosphere. The interaction between the
heliosphere and the interstellar medium is only recently being made
available to direct observation. Measurements from the still-going
Voyager probes and energetic neutral particle measurements from the
IBIX spacecraft have brought forth new questions about the size, shape
and structure of the outer edge of our Sun's influence.
Exoplanet remote sensing. Kepler and other exoplanet
efforts are expanding the catalog of known worlds. Some planets with
wide orbits have already been imaged, and the atmospheres of eclipsing
planets can be investigated via spectral analysis of the host star.
We are just beginning to understand what variety of worlds are
possible in our galaxy.
When I'm not working on physics or writing some
computer program I like to...
Play guitar. I play mostly classical guitar, though I
dabble in blues, jazz, rock, folk and country as well as Brazilian
styles bossa nova and choro. I also like to experiment with a lot of
different sounds, and for this I have a Brian Moore MIDI guitar and
tons of software instruments like those from the Native Instruments
Komplete 8 package.
Go outside. Montana is great for this. I like biking,
hiking, and canoeing, though I suspect Minnesota was better for
Travel. I've lived in Switzerland and Brazil and seen a
lot of nice places along with my wonderful wife, Patricia. I suspect
we'll see a lot more interesting places as time goes on.
Take photos. When I'm outside or traveling I like to take
pictures. Sometimes I even take good ones. When I do, I put them on
my flickr photostream. A few random pictures are shown below.