I was born and raised in South Africa and have subsequently worked in many countries, including Antarctica, Australia, Germany, Japan, Norway and USA. My research interests are in experimental space physics using night-vision optical and high-power radar systems, mostly in the high-latitude (polar regions) and high-altitude (above 80 km) atmosphere where the auroras appear. Here, I study the morphology of atmospheric conductivity, Joule heating, current flows and neutral winds of the natural environment. I also study the coupling between charged and neutral particles in the atmosphere as well as coupling between near-Earth space and the upper-atmosphere. Of particular interest are small-scale auroral optical phenomena, such as the black aurora. In addition, I use the upper-atmosphere as a free laboratory to perform active experiments to study fundamental radio wave-particle interactions in space plasmas as well as dusty plasmas. This includes experiments which artificially generate auroras, using facilities located in Alaska, Norway and Russia. Most of the optical equipment is bespoke and assembled by myself to meet specific project requirements.

Academic Qualifications:

  • Ph.D. (Space) Physics, University of Natal, Durban, South Africa, 1990.
  • B.Sc. Electronic Engineering (Summa Cum Lauda), University of Natal, Durban, South Africa, 1983.

Career Review:

  • July 2014 – June 2019: Chief Scientists, South African national Space Agency, Hermanus, RSA.
  • March-June 2014: Visiting Professor at National Institute for Polar Research, Tachikawa, Japan.
  • 2011-2013: Faculty of Science and Technology Associate Dean for Research, Lancaster University, UK.
  • 2011 onwards: Co-Director of EnvironVisionSystems (EVS,Click here ), Durban, South Africa.
  • 2010 onwards: Professor of Experimental Space Science in Dept. of Physics, Lancaster University, UK.
  • January-May 2010: Visiting Professor at Solar Terrestrial Environment Laboratory, Nagoya University, Japan.
  • April-July 2009: Australian Distinguished Fellowship, executed at La Trobe University, Melbourne.
  • February-March 2009: Sabbatical at UNIS (University in Longyearbyen), Svalbard.
  • January 2009: Sabbatical at EISCAT, Tromso, Norway.
  • 2008-2010: Professor of Experimental Space Science in Dept. Communication Systems, Lancaster University, UK.
  • May-September 2006: National Research Council USA Research Fellowship, executed at Air Force Research Labs, Boston, USA.
  • 2006-2008: Reader of Experimental Space Science in Dept. Communication Systems, Lancaster University, UK.
  • November 2004 – May 2005: National Research Council USA Research Fellowship, executed at Air Force Research Labs, Boston, USA.
  • 2004-2008: Deputy Head of Communication Systems.
  • 2003-2006: Senior lecturer in Dept. Communication Systems, Lancaster University, UK.
  • 2001-2003: Lecturer in Dept. Communication Systems, Lancaster University, UK.
  • 2002-2007: Honorary Research Fellow of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa.
  • 1994-2000: Scientist, Max-Planck-Institute for Aeronomy, Germany.
  • January-May 1994: Travelling through west and central Africa.
  • 1991-1993: Post Doctoral Researcher, Max-Planck-Institute for Aeronomy, Germany.
  • December 1988 – February 1989: Senior Scientist Antarctic Voyage to SANAE.
  • 1986-1990: Ph.D. Physics at University of Natal, Durban, South Africa.
  • December 1984 – March 1986: Over-wintering scientist at the South African National Antarctic Expedition (SANAE) station in Antarctica.
  • 1984: Training period as Antarctic scientist.
  • 1980-1983: B.Sc. Electronic Engineering (Summa Cum Lauda), University of Natal, Durban, South Africa.
  • 1979: Matriculation, Durban, South Africa.

Last updated February 16th, 2014 by Mike Kosch

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