Faculty


Dr. Paul Cassak
Associate Professor of Physics

Dr. Cassak received a Ph.D. in theoretical and computational plasma physics from the University of Maryland in 2006. He was a postdoc at University of Delaware in 2007-8. His research focuses on magnetic reconnection and its applications using analytical techniques, large scale numerical simulations, and observational data as appropriate. Applications of reconnection are many; solar eruptions (flares and CMEs) and similar eruptions on other sun-like stars, substorms and solar wind-magnetospheric coupling in the geomagnetic magnetic field (relevant to the field of space weather), disruptive events in fusion plasmas, and various astrophysical settings




Dr. Vladimir Demidov
Research Professor of Physics

Dr. Demidov received a Ph. D. in physics from St. Petersburg St University, Russia in 1981. He has many years of diverse experience in physics research and education. He has performed investigations of physics and chemistry of plasmas, plasma electronic devices, optics and spectroscopy, atomic and molecular physics, and lasers. He also has experience teaching in general and theoretical physics, different aspects of plasma physics, atomic and molecular physics, optics, mathematics, and computer algebra systems.




Dr. Fang Fang
Research Assistant Professor of Physics

Dr. Fang Fang received a Ph.D. in Atmospheric and Space Science from the University of Michigan in 2012. Then she worked at the High Altitude Observatory and University of Colorado at Boulder as postdoc researcher. Her research interest is in numerical simulations in solar magnetism, including interior dynamo models on the generation of magnetic cycles, magnetohydrodynamic simulations on the flux emergence forming solar active regions, and magnetic eruptions in the coronal region.




Dr. Amy Keesee
Research Associate Professor

Dr. Keesee received her Ph.D. in plasma physics from West Virginia Unviersity and her areas of expertise include laser-induced-fluorescence diagnosis of laboratory plasmas, particularly neutral atom components, plasma spectroscopy, collisional radiative modeling, and energetic neutral atom imaging of the Earth's magnetosphere. Currently Dr. Keesee leads the WVU plasma group's research program in the analysis of energetic neutral atom images from the TWINS spacecraft




Dr. Adam Kobelski
Research Assistant Professor

Dr. Kobelski received a Ph.D. in solar physics from Montana State University in 2014. He has worked as a postdoc for the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia, and The University of Alabama in Huntsville. His research interest is primarily focused the the transfer of energy in space plasmas. His early research focused on the calibration of the Hinode X-Ray Telescope (XRT) and the energetics of small brightenings in the solar corona as observed with XRT and the High Resolution Coronal Imager (Hi-C). His postdoctoral research had him working as a scientist for the 110 m GBT and gathering radio information of the magnetic field of the outer solar corona, as well as comparing in-situ observations from within the Earth’s magnetic field (using THEMIS) to observations of the corona. He is quite interested in using disparate (and often non-solar) observational techniques to better understand the transitions from the chromosphere to the corona (using millimeter and spacecraft observations), and from the corona to the heliosphere (using remote sensing and in-situ observations).




Dr. Mark E. Koepke
Professor of Physics

Dr. Koepke received a Ph.D. in experimental plasma physics from the University of Maryland in 1984 for the experimental verification of bounce-resonance damping and work on the drift-cyclotron loss-cone instability. He then moved to the University of Washington where he experimentally studied the equilibria and stability of high-beta stellarator configurations. Upon his arrival in 1987 at West Virginia University, he developed a research program and a plasma physics curriculum for training students in the subject of plasma waves and instabilities. Since then, Dr. Koepke has built two Q machines, on which he launched a space-plasma-related research theme and assembled a laser-induced fluorescence system for diagnosing plasmas. He and his group experimentally proved the existence of various velocity-shear driven waves, experimentally verified D. Knudsen's stationary inertialAlfven waves, and discovered the phenomenon of dynamics modulation. He also works on (1) temporal, spatial, and spatiotemporal nonlinear driven-oscillator phenomena and dynamical complexity, (2) cyclotron, whistler-mode, and Alfven waves., and (3) dust-grain infiltrated plasmas. In addition to this, he teaches courses in introductory physics in addition to the courses in plasma physics




Dr. Julian Schulze
Research Assistant Professor of Physics

Dr. Schulze received a Ph. D. in physics from the Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany, in 2009. He spent one year as a postdoc at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary, in 2010/11. He also worked at Dublin City University, Ireland, and Nagoya University, Japan, as a visiting scientist. His research focuses on technological low temperature plasmas such as capacitively and inductively coupled radio frequency discharges. These plasmas are frequently used for etching and deposition processes on microscopic scales required for a variety of high technology applications ranging from the manufacturing of computer chips and solar cells to the creation of biocompatible surfaces. Dr. Schulze studies the heating dynamics of different particle species in the plasmas (electrons, ions, neutral) to develop novel concepts to control their flux-energy distributions at boundary surfaces as a basis for enhanced control of plasma processing applications. In order to achieve this goal he combines experimental methods with numerical simulations and analytical modeling.




Dr. Earl Scime
Oleg Jefimenko Distinguished Professor and Chair of Physics
Dr. Scime is experienced in both laboratory and space plasmas. He has investigated high frequency turbulence and ion-cyclotron instabilities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and whistler heat flux driven instabilities at Los Alamos National Laboratory as a member of the Ulysses spacecraft plasma team. Since 1995 he has been faculty member of physics at West Virginia University and his ongoing research activities include: the development of novel techniques for imaging low energy neutrals from space and laboratory plasmas, space plasma instrument design, the development of algorithms to correct for spacecraft charging effects on the Ulysses spacecraft, and studies of radial evolution of the solar wind electron heat flux. At West Virginia University he has constructed a large steady-state, high beta laboratory plasma source and a space-simulation chamber devices, the primary focus of his research program.



Dr. Weichao Tu
Assistant Professor of Physics

Dr. Tu received a Ph.D. in space physics from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2011. Then she worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory as a postdoc research associate from 2012 to 2015. Her research interests in space plasma physics are focused in the quantitative analysis and numerical modeling of energetic particles in space. She has developed and implemented various physics-based models to simulate the dynamics of relativistic particles in the Earth's radiation belts. Earth's radiation belts, also known as the Van Allen Radiation Belts, have important space weather applications since they present a hazardous radiative environment for spacecraft operating within. Dr. Tu's research emphasis has been on the physical quantification of the source, loss, and transport rates of radiation belt particles, which directly contributes to the principal goal of the $686 million NASA Van Allen Probes Mission that was launched in August 2012.



Dr. Dimitris Vassiliadis
Research Associate Professor of Physics

Dr. Vassiliadis received a Ph.D. in space plasma physics from the University of Maryland. His research interests in space science are focused in magnetospheric physics and more specifically in Earth's radiation belts as explored by spacecraft missions such as NASA's POLAR and SAMPEX. The radiation belts are a fascinating part of geospace whose study languished in the 70s and 80s only to come to the forefront since the mid-1990s. NASA's Radiation Belt Storm Probes will focus exclusively on the radiation belt dynamics. Currently he is working on the physics of the belts' responses to geoeffective interplanetary structures such as coronal mass ejections and high-speed streams. The new STEREO observations will be crucial in understanding how these powerful complex structures arise at the solar surface and how they propagate to Earth's orbit and interact with our planet.