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Drake Named Distinguished University Professor

Drake Named Distinguished University Professor


Prof. James Drake (Physics/IPST/IREAP) has been named a Distinguished University Professor by the University of Maryland. This professorship is one of the highest and most prestigious titles bestowed on faculty at UMD and recognizes Prof. Drake's sustained scholarly impact and international reputation.

Prof. Drake's area of specialization is theoretical plasma physics; UMD graduate studies in plasma physics were recently ranked 3rd in the US, thanks in no small part to Prof. Drake's contributions to the field.

As an example of Prof. Drake's estimable scholarship, last fall NASA announced that the Voyager 1 left the solar system. Prof. Drake, along with Dr. Marc Swisdak (IREAP) and Prof. Merav Opher (Boston University) published a paper months before the NASA announcement asserting the spacecraft had left the solar system based on their innovative model in which the heliopause (transition zone between the sun's magnetic field and deep space) is porous and layered with a complex magnetic structure. According to this model, indications that the Voyager 1 crossed the heliopause arise from drops in solar particle counts and surges in galactic particle counts occuring across slopes in the magnetic filed. This would mean, contrary to conventional thought, that the interstellar magnetic field direction is the same as the solar magnetic field.

April 24, 2014


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