Full Spectrum: Patricia Reiff


Prof. Patricia Reiff has been involved in space plasma physics research for over 40 years, with interests in magnetospheric convection, magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling, plasma particle acceleration mechanisms, and solar wind control of the magnetosphere and ionosphere of the Earth and Mercury. She received her Ph.D. analyzing Apollo plasma data, and was an NRC Fellow in 1975-76 analyzing Atmosphere Explorer data. She was a Co-I on the Dynamics Explorer, Polar and IMAGE Missions, was a Co-I for both science and public outreach for the PEACE electron spectrometer on Cluster II, is EPO lead for the MMS mission, and was on the EPO team for the Center for Integrated Space Weather Modeling.

She has served as Director for public education and teacher enhancement projects for over 25 years. Her "Space Update" software has been used by over a million visitors at over 15 museums, and together with "Earth Update" and "Space Weather" has been distributed to over 300,000 educators and learners. Her project "Immersive Earth", in cooperation with the Houston Museum of Natural Science, created full-dome digital planetarium shows teaching Earth science, and has created a portable planetarium system “Discovery Dome” to teach Earth and Space Science through immersive digital theater, which is now in over 220 sites in 33 countries and 33 states.

She has over 125 refereed publications, and has served as Editor or Associate Editor for EOS, Journal of Geophysical Research, Reviews of Geophysics and served on the editorial board of Space Weather. She has served on advisory committees for the NSF, NASA, the National Academy of Science, the AAU, Goddard Space Flight Center, UCAR, and Los Alamos, and on the NASA E/PO MOWG. She has served as Chair of the Council of Institutions of the Universities Space Research Association and serves on the SPA Public Education Committee for the AGU. She has numerous awards, including being named as one of Houston's "Women on the Move" in 1990. She was elected to the Cosmos Club in 1992, was selected as a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union in 1997, and received the AGU “Athelstan Spilhaus Award” for public education in 2009. She received the "Aerospace Educator Award" from Women in Aerospace in 1999 and the Service Award from NARS in 2004. She received NASA "Group Achievement" awards for the IMAGE, GGS and Cluster missions, and was an organizer for the World Space Congress in 2002. In 2013 she received the first-ever "Space Physics and Aeronomy Richard Carrington" (SPARC) award. Listed in American Men and Women of Science and Who's Who, she has served as President of the Citizens' Environmental Coalition.


What kind of research do you do?

Why did you chose space science for a career?

Observing Total Solar Eclipses

What do you like most about your work?

How do you balance family and work?

What advice do you have for someone who wants to be a space scientist?

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