Abigail and John Van Vleck Lectures
Don Gurnett Bio
University of Iowa
6:30 p.m., Thursday,February 6, 2014
Tate Laboratory of Physics, Room 150, Van Vleck Auditorium
"The Epic Journey of Voyager 1 into Interstellar Space "
Stream the lecture now.
3:35 p.m., Tate Lab of Physics 150, Van Vleck Auditorium
The peculiar rotational modulation of Saturn's magnetosphere.
Don Gurnett is the James A. Van Allen/Roy J. Carver Professor of Physics in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the
University of Iowa. He began his career in 1958 by working on the design of spacecraft electronics as an undergraduate
engineer in James Van Allen's cosmic ray research group shortly after Van Allen's discovery of Earth's radiation belts
using Explorer 1, the first U.S. spacecraft. After receiving his B.S. in electrical engineering and his Ph.D. in physics at
Iowa, he spent one year at Stanford University as a NASA trainee and then joined the Physics faculty at Iowa in 1965,
where has been to the present time.
Over his career he led the development of instruments on more than 30 spacecraft projects, including many early Earth-orbiting spacecraft, and on several major planetary missions such as the famous Voyager 1 and 2 flights to the outer planets, the Galileo mission to Jupiter, and the Cassini mission to Saturn. His research primarily involves the study of radio emissions and waves that are generated in hot ionized gases, called plasmas, that occur in planetary magnetospheres and in the solar wind which is a hot ionized gas flowing outward from the Sun. These plasmas produce many different types of radio emissions and plasma waves that can provide crucial information on key properties of the plasma, such as the density and temperature, and even the rotation rate of the planet, as is the case for the outer planets. Over his career he has authored or co-authored over 600 scientific papers and has received numerous awards for his research and teaching. He has guided 62 graduate research projects and many of his students now hold prominent positions in space physics research.