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Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering pres.

CLASP Alumni of the Year Lecture - Dr. Mei-Ching Fok

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Our guest for this year's CLASP Alumni of the Year Lecture will be Dr. Mei-Ching Fok of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Dr. Fok will present a lecture entitled "From RAM to CIMI"

During my graduate study in the department of Atmospheric Oceanic and Space Sciences (AOSS), now called Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering (CLaSP), I was charged to develop a model of the energetic ions in the inner magnetosphere known as the ring current. The model was very simple by today’s standards, assuming a basic dipole magnetic field and equatorially mirroring particles only. Nevertheless, the model contained unique features such as, inclusion of a dynamic plasmasphere model and energy transfer between the hot ring current (energies of several keV) and cold plasmasphere particles (energies of a few eV). After I left Michigan, the model was further developed at AOSS to include all pitch angles and wave-particles interactions, and was renamed the Ring current-Atmosphere interaction Model (RAM). During my post-doc years at NASA, I used ionospheric foot points to define flux tubes/spatial grid. This change prepared my model to couple with the famous Rice Convection Model (RCM), in which spatial grid is also fixed at the ionosphere. The combined model was called the Comprehensive Ring Current Model (CRCM). This marked a further evolution of the modeling approach as it considers electric coupling between the ionosphere and magnetosphere, and provides full pitch-angle distribution of ring current particles. As space weather and radiation belt prediction became more and more popular, a Radiation Belt Environment (RBE) model was created with similar structure as the CRCM but was extended to relativistic energies and considered diffusion from various wave modes. Many scientific studies and space weather predictions were carried out using the CRCM and the RBE model. In the meantime, both models were coupled with global MHD models to study solar wind-magnetosphere-ionosphere interactions. In recent years, the CRCM and the RBE model were combined into one model capable of studying the inner magnetospheric populations from the cold plasmasphere, to the hot ring current, and the very energetic radiation belts. This newly combined model was aptly named Comprehensive Inner Magnetosphere-Ionosphere (CIMI) model. In this talk, I will highlight achievements attained by these models and future developments of CIMI. I will also share my experiences and thoughts on how to face struggles and challenges as a scientist and a modeler.

Dr. Fok's main research interests are studies of the radiation belts and ring current during geomagnetic active periods, understanding the mechanisms responsible for their intensification and decay by numerical modeling and data analysis. She has developed a complex model, named as the Comprehensive Inner Magnetosphere-Ionosphere (CIMI) Model, that can compute and predict the energetic plasma fluxes in the radiation belts-ring current region. Dr. Fok was a participating scientist of the IMAGE mission and is the Project Scientist of the TWINS mission. She is heavily involved in neutral atom imaging. The modeling tools she developed have contributed greatly in interpreting images from the neutral atom imagers on IMAGE and TWINS. Dr. Fok is also involved in the Van Allen Probes mission. Her CIMI model is running in real time to predict energetic ion and electron fluxes that Van Allen Probes satellites would observe.
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