James L. Burch, Ph.D.
Show Date: January 24th, 2018
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James L. Burch, Ph.D.
Space Science and Engineering Division.
Dr. Jim Burch is an experimental space physicist investigating various aspects of the interaction of the solar wind with the magnetospheres of the Earth and Saturn and with comets. He has been Principal Investigator for instruments on the NASA Dynamics Explorer spacecraft and the Space Shuttle. Beginning in 1996, he was P.I. of the first NASA Medium-Class Explorer mission (IMAGE), which performed pioneering global, multi-spectral imaging of plasmas populating the Earth’s magnetosphere. Also starting in 1996 and continuing until present, he is P.I. of the Ion and Electron Sensor (IES) on the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission, which in 2014 became the first mission to rendezvous with and orbit a comet.
Since 2005, he has been P.I. for the NASA Magnetospheric Multiscale mission, which involves four large spacecraft flying in formation in the boundary layers of the Earth’s magnetosphere to perform a definitive experiment on Magnetic Reconnection, which is a process that explosively converts magnetic energy to particle energy and is responsible for magnetic storms and auroras as well as solar flares and numerous other energetic phenomena throughout the universe.
Since 1985, Dr. Burch has been Vice-President of the Space Science and Engineering Division, which currently has over 350 staff members in seven departments with laboratories in Boulder, Colorado and Durham, New Hampshire, as well as in San Antonio. The division is responsible for numerous instruments on NASA and ESA spacecraft and leads several complete NASA science missions including the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Juno polar orbiting investigation of Jupiter.
Dr. Burch has served from 1989 through 1993 as editor-in-chief of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) journal Geophysical Research Letters and was President-Elect and President of the AGU Space Physics and Aeronomy section from 1994 to 1998. He is a fellow of the AGU and a member of the International Academy of Astronautics. Dr. Burch has chaired the National Research Council (NRC) Committee on Solar and Space Physics and other NRC committees.
PUBLICATIONS & PATENTS: Over 400 articles published in peer-review journals. One U.S. patent.
HONORS & AWARDS: Bronze Star Medal and Army Commendation Medal, 1970; Distinguished Alumnus, St. Mary’s University, 1987; Marlar Lectureship, Rice University, 2001; Van Allen Lectureship, AGU; AGU Fleming Medal 2010.
PROFESSIONAL CHRONOLOGY: U.S. Army: 1st lieutenant – captain, 1968-71; NASA-GSFC: space scientist, 1971-4; NASA-MSFC: space scientist, 1974-7; Southwest Research Institute: 1977-[senior research scientist, 1977-8; manager, 1978-80; director, 1980-5; vice president, 1985-present].
MEMBERSHIPS: American Geophysical Union; International Academy of Astronautics; European Geosciences Union; American Physical Society. August 2017