Thursday, September 13, 2012

Blog about Research

This article:
talks about blogs that promote the author's research, and that women are less likely to blog about their research, and cite their own work in blogs at an even lower rate. And since my brother wanted me to start this blog to talk about what I do, I figured I should talk a bit about my research this week.

One of the projects I'm currently working on is to compare how hot ions get during two different types of geomagnetic storms. The news has started to talk about solar flares and coronal mass ejections, so hopefully you have heard at least a little about them. Solar flares are blasts of high energy radiation from the Sun, and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are big chunks of energetic particles (ions and electrons) that are blasted off the Sun. The Earth's magnetic field creates a protective shield that keeps the CME from hitting Earth directly. Instead, the energetic particles enter the region around Earth, called the magnetosphere, only in places where the magnetic field breaks. Once inside the magnetosphere, these energetic particles flow around, creating currents and causing the aurora. This is called a geomagnetic storm.

But CMEs are not the only driver of geomagnetic storms. Another driver is called a high speed stream (HSS). The Sun is constantly expelling particles, called the solar wind. The speed of these particles varies, but ranges from about 300 to 1000 km/s. If a region of slow solar wind is heading toward Earth, followed by a region of high speed solar wind, the fast solar wind will catch up to the slow solar wind. The interaction between the two regions can also drive geomagnetic storms. I wrote a paper describing how hot the ions get during one of these high speed stream-driven storms [Keesee et al., 2012].

Now I'm trying to do an analysis of the average ion temperature over all of the storms during late 2008-early 2012 and compare them during the two types of storms. So one of the things that I have to do is figure out when storms happened and which type of driver, CME or HSS, the storm had. Papers often get published that identify this for a set of storms, but it usually occurs for a previous chunk of time, so nothing has come out for this interval yet. First, I tried to look at criteria that other people have described to decide for myself what the driver was. But that was incredibly difficult! Using different resources led to conflicting designations, and some were just totally ambiguous. I had a lot of question marks in my notes!

Then this week while I was looking through more references, I found the most awesome resource ever! NOAA-the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (they bring you the weather)-has a Space Weather Prediction Center that publishes a weekly report on all of the solar and geophysical activity for the previous week plus a prediction for the upcoming week. The report gives a play-by-play of the geomagnetic storms and what caused them. Super Awesome!!! So now that problem is solved. Yay!

This week I also finished a draft of a paper that has been in the works for awhile and really needs to be finalized and submitted. I sent it to a co-author for comments.

And tonight we had a panel that I organized as a part of the Association for Women in Science. It was called What Can I Do With a Science Degree? and consisted of 3 women scientists in a variety of careers: a Congressional Science Policy Fellow, a Research Scientist for the US Forest Service, and an Independent Consultant that does project management and software/equipment validation. It went really well: we had a good audience and some great conversation!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Liebster Award!

Thanks to Susie at CastleBlake blog for giving my blog the Liebster Award!

The Rules of the Award: The Liebster Award is given to bloggers, by bloggers. It is a way to acknowledge each other and say, "You are doing a great job." It is for blogs with 200 or less followers, so it is also a great way to spread the word about smaller blogs and get them more readers and followers! When you receive the award you post eleven random facts about yourself, and answer eleven questions from the person who nominated you. You pass the award onto eleven other blogs, (make sure you let them know they were nominated,) and ask them eleven questions. You are not allowed to nominate the blog that nominated you.

So let's see, 11 random facts about me...
1. I'm a military brat, born in England and lived in Germany, but moved back to the States just before I turned 2. There's a little Brit left in me-I like to drink hot tea with milk in it!

2. I have a big, black furry dog-a Newfoundland. Her name is Nanny's Bella Notte, named after the song in Lady and the Tramp. ("beautiful night" in Italian)

3. I'm allergic to melon. I developed the allergy while I was in grad school, so I know how incredibly tasty melon can be :-(

4. My oldest kid has a peanut allergy. He doesn't know the taste of peanuts, but he has told me that he's excited to go to heaven so he can eat M&Ms :_-(

Enough with the downer facts!

5.  I play the cello. Well, "play" is an overstatement at this point as my poor cello hasn't seen the light of day since before by second child was born. Someday...

6. I love tangrams!

7. My favorite magazine is Brain, Child. It almost died due to the financial woes that plague most print media these days. But some awesome person swooped in and saved it. I'm so excited for my next issue. I call it my mommy porn! (Note: my husband and I use the term "porn" for anything you spend way to much time looking at, and has been upgraded since we became parents to also mean anything that causes you to ignore your children as they run around you like wild banchees.)

8. I have a 45 minute commute each way to work. It's not a stuck-in-traffic commute, so it's not terrible, but takes some time. I usually listen to NPR so I know what's going on. I drive a Honda Insight (hybrid) that gets >40 mph on average!

9. I have an awesome nanny whom the kids love. I couldn't survive in this career without her!

10. If you watch 30 Rock, I am so like Liz Lemon. (I want to go to there!)

11. It's a dry heat! I spent a big chunk of my childhood in Tucson.

 The 11 questions asked by Susie:
1. What is the best vacation you've ever taken? While I was in Australia doing research, I took some time to do some sightseeing: Sydney, surfing Bondi Beach, snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef. It was awesome.

2. What is the most daring thing you've ever done?
Took a nine month old on an airplane by myself, complete with carseat.

3. What is something you wish you could do better?
Play the piano.

4. What are your favorite food flavors?
Oh man, so many good flavors, I don't know if I have a favorite, but recently I've discovered the power of vinegar in making things pop!

5. What is your favorite dessert? Pie! (rhubarb is my favorite pie)

6. What is your favorite thing to actually cook?
Pie! (especially after I got an apple machine and a pie crust bag)

7. What do you long for? I wish people of faith would accept each others' beliefs as legitimate. 

8. How do you celebrate your favorite holiday?
Christmas is my favorite, and there are so many things I love-decorating, singing carols, being with family. My husband calls me "Christmas Crazy."

9. When/how/why did you know your spouse was "the one"? Cuddling on the couch at Davidson, watching TV, discussing math (my major) and biology (his major). Nerds in love :-)

10. What is your favorite beverage? normal: Coke; legal: pina colada

11. What is one tradition your family had when you were growing up that you'd like to continue with your family? Playing games. It all starts with kiddy board games and Uno, and eventually leads to Euchre! The spark has already been lit in Mitchell.

And now I get to bestow the award on 11 blogs! Well, I don't actually follow 11 blogs, so congratulations to
my little brother, Todd, at Daily Climb 
Ann at Reflections, Recipes, and Rants 

Update: I realized that I forgot to come up with 11 questions for the awardees to answer!
1. What is your favorite childhood memory?
2. If you could visit anywhere in the world (that you haven't been yet), where would it be?
3. What is your favorite place that you have visited?
4. What is your favorite food (non-dessert)?
5. What is your favorite dessert?
6. Who has inspired you?
7. Who is your favorite scientist? (I don't count :-P)
8. What is your least favorite chore?
9. What teacher changed your life?
10. What's the best book you've read recently?
11. What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?

Happy blogging to all those that have received this award!