July 16, 2018

Full Directory


William Abbett

Senior FellowWork Phone: 510-642-6880Website: Personal PageWebsite: Publications at ADS

I am currently a Senior Fellow and Research Physicist at the Space Sciences Laboratory at UC Berkeley. I have a variety of research interests in the field of astrophysics, including the formation and evolution of magnetic fields in the convective envelope of stars like our Sun, the physics of magnetically driven eruptions in the solar corona (the principal drivers of space weather here at earth), the transport of radiation in solar and stellar atmospheres during strong flares, and the dynamic, magnetic, and energetic connection between the solar interior and atmosphere.

Robert Abiad

Aerospace EngineerWork Phone: 510-642-0302

Oleksiy Agapitov

Work Phone: 510-990-2729Work Phone: 510-990-2729Website: Publications at ADS

Spacecraft data processing and interpretation Electromagnetic wave propagation in magnetized plasmas Cyclotron resonant wave-particle interactions

David Anderson

Research ScientistUC BerkeleySpace Sciences LaboratoryWork Phone: 510-845-9854Work Phone: 510-684-9149Website: Wikipedia pageWebsite: Publications on Google Scholar

I received an MA in Mathematics and PhD in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. From 1985 to 1992 I was on the faculty of the U.C. Berkeley Computer Science Department. My research interests include volunteer computing, distributed systems, operating systems, multimedia systems, computer graphics, and computer music. I’m also involved in creating technology for human computing and for adaptively personalized web-based education.

Sam Badman

Graduate Student ResearchersUniversity of California BerkeleySpace Sciences LaboratoryWebsite: GitHub – Notes,Vizualizations etc

I am a 3rd year physics graduate student working here at the lab in heliospheric radio physics in Prof. Stuart Bale’s group. In particular I’m interested in tracking radio bursts in the inner heliosphere. I also work on mission simulation and design for the CUbesat Radio Interferometry Experiment (CURIE).

I enjoy finding creative and interactive ways to visualize data.

Stuart Bale

Professor of PhysicsWork Phone: 510-643-3324Website: Personal PageWebsite: Publications at ADS

Stuart D. Bale received B.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Minnesota in 1989 and 1994, respectively. After three years of postdoctoral work at Queen Mary College, University of London, he came to a research position at the Space Sciences Laboratory (SSL) at Berkeley. He joined the Physics faculty in 2004 and is the Director of SSL. He has held visiting appointments at the Observatoire de Paris, Meudon (Univ. Paris VII), LPCE/CNRS in Orleans, France, and the University of Sydney. He is a recipient of the 2003 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).



I am interested in plasma astrophysics from the experimental point of view. Much of the universe is in the plasma state and we are just coming to appreciate the role of plasma dynamics and magnetic fields in the large-scale evolution of astrophysical systems. However, many of the fundamental processes are poorly understood and can only be studied in a limited parameter regime in the laboratory. Examples are magnetic reconnection, collisionless shocks, plasma turbulence, and solar/stellar wind generation and evolution.

My research is focused on developing experiments to understand these processes and, in particular, how microscale, kinetic phenomena, affect large-scale plasma evolution.

I am also interested in low frequency (LF) radio astronomy, at frequencies below the ionospheric cutoff (~12 MHz); these observations need to be made from space. Signatures of solar flare electrons and CMEs dominate the dynamics at these frequencies, however the large-scale structure of the radio sky below 15 MHz remains mostly unexplored.

Our group at the Space Sciences Laboratory develops, builds, and operates space-borne experiments to study in situ the plasma processes active in astrophysical, heliospheric, and magnetospheric systems. These experiments are flown on NASA and ESA spacecraft missions and are often developed as balloon and sounding rocket payloads.

Current Projects

My group is involved with NASA’s STEREO mission to study the generation and evolution of Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) phenomena. CMEs are dramatic, large-scale solar eruptions whose triggering mechanism, evolution, and role in solar physics are largely unknown; however CMEs are thought to play a role in the helicity evolution of the solar dynamo. Several of the experiments on STEREO were designed and built at the Space Sciences Lab. Our experiments will remotely sense radio emission and energetic particles from these events, as well as thermalization and shock processes in the ambient solar wind. Opportunities exist for students to be involved in data analysis on STEREO.

Magnetic reconnection is a phenomenon that allows rapid, topological reorganization of magnetic fields in a plasma; it is the primary agent in solar flare and magnetospheric dynamics and is thought to play a role in solar/stellar wind acceleration, accretion disk physics, and other astrophysical phenomena. Our experiments on the Polar, Wind, and Cluster spacecraft have made important measurements of ion and electron diffusion and plasma turbulence related to reconnection evolution. Experimental studies of electron diffusion and wave physics are continuing.

An ongoing project is the study of electric fields, wave phenomena, and particle acceleration at collisionless shocks. Shocks are ubiquitous in astrophysics and are responsible for particle (cosmic ray) acceleration, plasma heating, and mediating flow at astrophysical boundaries. Dissipation physics, particle acceleration, and the energy budget at shocks are poorly understood. Experiments on the Cluster, Wind, and Polar spacecraft are used to study these problems.

Other important problems currently accessible to experimental progress include solar wind generation and evolution, plasma radio emission mechanisms, and plasma wave-particle interactions.

Ryan Bay

Research PhysicistWebsite: Publications at ADS

I am a research physicist working on high-energy neutrino astronomy and the application of experimental physics techniques to the earth sciences of paleoclimatology and glaciology.  My current research projects include IceCube, RAID (Rapid Access Ice Drill) and the South Pole Ice Core.  I obtained my undergraduate degree in physics and math at UW-Madison and my PhD in physics from UC-Berkeley.

Steven Beckwith

DirectorUniversity of California, BerkeleyDepartment of AstronomyWork Phone: +1 (415) 230-0335Website: Department of Astronomy WebpageWebsite: CV

Space Sciences Lab Director
Professor of Astronomy
Department of Astronomy Senate Faculty

Professor Beckwith has served as Director of the Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie (Heidelberg, Germany), the Director of the Space Telescope Science Institute (Baltimore, Maryland), and most recently as the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies for the ten-campus University of California system (Oakland, California). He has been on the faculties of Cornell University (Professor of Astronomy) and Johns Hopkins University (Professor of Physics and Astronomy) prior to coming to Berkeley in 2008. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences.

Specialty Areas

Origins of life, cosmology, star formation, planet formation

Research Interests

Professor Beckwith is interested in nature’s leap from chemistry to biology on the prebiotic Earth and how an understanding of that leap will let us infer the likelihood that life has developed elsewhere in the universe. He is investigating how non-equilibrium thermodynamic processes on a small scale may give rise to chemical reaction networks that will become self-sustaining and ultimately evolve into the life we see on Earth today.





The Gemini Planet Imager Exoplanet Survey

Artist rendition of the exoplanet 51 Eridani b. Image credit: Danielle Futselaar / Franck Marchis / SETI Institute.

The Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) is a new science instrument that exploits the latest generation of adaptive optics technology, coronagraphy, and detectors. We have successfully commissioned GPI at the Gemini South telescope in Chile and in 2014 we started a three-year science program called GPIES (GPI Exoplanet Survey) that will survey 600 stars for the presence of young giant planets.

Jacqueline Beechert

Graduate Student ResearchersUniversity of California BerkeleySpace Sciences Laboratory

Jacqueline is a PhD student in the UC Berkeley physics department. She completed her BS in physics at the University of Michigan in 2017 and is currently working on the Compton Spectrometer and Imager (COSI) experiment at SSL.

Peter Beiersdorfer

Work Phone: 510-643-0794Website: Personal PageWebsite: Publications at ADS

Peter Beiersdorfer received his B. S. and M. S. degrees in Physics from Auburn University, and his M. A. and Ph. D. degrees in Astrophysical Sciences/Plasma Physics from Princeton University. At Auburn he was the recipient of several awards, including the Comer Medal. At Princeton he was a Westinghouse Fellow and Fannie and John Hertz Foundation Fellow, and he received a Charlotte Elizabeth Proctor Honorific Fellowship. For his thesis on “High-Resolution Studies of the X-Ray Transitions in Highly Charged Neonlike Ions on the PLT Tokamak” he received the Doctoral Thesis Prize of the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation. He joined the High Temperature Physics Division at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 1988, where his work centered on the measurement and interpretation of spectra from highly charged ions in high-temperature laboratory and astrophysical plasmas. He served in two group leader positions in the Physics Division as well as the project leader of the electron beam ion trap experiment.  He was appointed a Senior Scientist and a Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff.  He holds a research scientist position at the Space Science Laboratory of the University of California Berkeley since 2004.

He is the author or co-author of over 550 scientific publications and editor of several conference proceedings, including the proceedings of the 10th International Colloquium on Atomic Spectra and Oscillator Strength in Laboratory and Astrophysical Spectra, which he organized and held in Berkeley in 2010.  He is a visiting scientist at various institutions nationally and internationally and has supervised ten Ph. D. students working on the electron beam ion trap facility at Livermore. He is an Affiliate Professor at Auburn University, Auburn, AL, and served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Nevada, Reno until 2016.  From 2014 to 2017, he served in the Chair Line of the American Physical Society’s Far West Section, including as Chair of the section in 2016.Moreover, he is an Associate Editor of the Canadian Journal of Physics.

His measurement of the two-loop quantum electrodynamical contributions to the energy levels in lithiumlike uranium (U89+) was chosen as a one of the Physics Highlights of the American Institute of Physics in 2005. He has been awarded the Outstanding Referee Award of the American Physical Society in 2008.  In 2016 he was awarded the Laboratory Astrophysics Prize by the American Astronomical Society’s Laboratory Astrophysics Division.


David Bercik

Project PhysicistWork Phone: 510-643-4118Website: Publications at ADS

Peter Berg

Aerospace EngineerWork Phone: 510-643-9443

Manfred Bester

Aerospace ManagerWork Phone: 510-643-1014

Alex Bixler

Work Phone: 5106431433

Steven Boggs

Professor of PhysicsWork Phone: 510-643-4129Website: Personal PageWebsite: Publications at ADS

John Bonnell

Project PhysicistSpace Sciences LaboratoryWork Phone: 510-642-0852Website: Personal PageWebsite: Publications at ADS

John W. Bonnell has been a Research Associate and Project Physicist at SSL since October 1999.  He specializes in the design, fabrication, assembly, test, and operation of antenna systems, receivers, and  signal processing hardware for the measurement of electric fields in space.  His research interests include vehicle dynamics, multi-point and multi-sensor analysis techniques, and spectral data analysis as applied to a variety of electrodynamics problems in auroral, ionospheric, magnetospheric, and solar wind physics.  He is currently an Instrument Lead or PI on three NASA Missions (THEMIS/ARTEMIS, Van Allen Probes, Parker Solar Probe) and several sounding rocket campaigns (GREECE, TRICE2, VIPER, ACES2, INCAA).


Kyle Boone

Graduate Student Researchers

Julian Borrill

Research Physicist & Senior Staff ScientistWebsite: Publications at ADS

Julian Borrill is a Research Physicist at the Space Sciences Laboratory and a Senior Scientist at Berkeley Lab, where he leads the Computational Cosmology Center. His work is focused on the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), and in particular on the data management challenges posed by the size of current and future CMB datasets. He is co-spokesperson of the CMB-S4 experiment, and a senior member of the POLARBEAR, Simons Observatory, LiteBIRD, and PICO experiments.

Trevor Bowen

PhD Student ResearcherUniversity of California BerkeleySpace Sciences Laboratory

I received a PhD in Physics from the University of California, Berkeley, in May 2019 and am currently a postdoctoral scholar in the Solar and Heliospheric Physics group at SSL. My research focuses on in-situ observations of magnetized turbulence and other non-linear processes in the solar wind and heliosphere.

Roberto Boyd

System AdministratorWork Phone: 510-643-6867

Milo Buitrago-Casas

Graduate Student ResearchersUniversity of California BerkeleySpace Sciences LaboratoryWork Phone: 510-264-7200Work Phone: 510-289-4120Website: HomepageWebsite: Google-Scholar

Physicist and Master in Astronomy of the Universidad Nacional de Colombia. I am currently studying Ph.D. in Physics at the University of California Berkeley. My specialty focuses on astrophysics and space science. In particular, I participated in NASA programs that seek to implement new technologies for observing the Sun with space instruments. It also highlights my permanent interest in broad access to high-quality education. I have been a founding member of groups and collectives in the area of Astronomy in Colombia, such as the Astronomical Divulgation Group and the Solar Astrophysics Group (GoSA) of the Universidad Nacional at Bogotá and the Colombian Students of Astronomy Network. I am an active member of the “Education and Public Outreach” team of the Solar Physics Division of the American Society of Astronomy and Science Clubs of Colombia.

Bale’s Group meeting list


Aaron Burgart

Work Phone: 510-643-5291

Anna Butterworth

SpecialistWork Phone: 510-643-9948Website: Publications at ADS
Anna Butterworth is a Planetary Scientist specializing in instrument and technique development for analyses of small samples probing solar system formation and evolution.  She got her PhD (1998) in Analytical Chemistry from the Planetary and Space Research Institute at The Open University, UK, where she developed a gas chromatograph – isotope ratio mass spectrometer for analyzing dual isotopes of methane from small atmospheric samples, lunar soils and primitive meteorites. She continued there as a Postdoctoral researcher, developing a laser ablation – oxygen isotope ratio mass spectrometer, as a member of the NASA Discovery Genesis Mission. She moved to Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory in 2003 as an Assistant Research Physicist, to develop analytical techniques for the NASA Discovery Stardust Mission cometary and interstellar sample return. Research highlights included synchrotron x-ray spectro-microscopy of interstellar dust captured by the Stardust Interstellar Collector.
Anna Butterworth’s current role is Project Scientist for Astrobiology flight instrumentation development, with a newly founded laboratory at SSL and collaboration with Prof. Mathies group in Berkeley Dept. of Chemistry. Our focus is development of a high sensitivity instrument for measuring trace bio-signature molecules for Icy Moons exploration. Current projects include the Enceladus Organic Analyzer (EOA) for sampling and analysis of Enceladus plume ice, and the Microfabricated Organic Analyzer for Biosignatures instrument (MOAB) for a potential Europa Lander mission.

Laura Casto

Postdoctoral Scholar

Dr. Laura Casto is a Postdoctoral Scholar working with Prof. Richard Mathies and Dr. Anna Butterworth on the development of flight instrumentation for exploration of Icy Moons. Her work is focused on the optimization of chemistry and separation methods for targeted analysis of organic amines, amino acids, and carboxylic acids on microfabricated capillary electrophoresis wafers for the Microfluidic Organic Analyzer of Biosignatures (MOAB) project that is being developed as a potential instrument for in situ bioorganic marker detection on a landed Europa mission.

Laura received her B.S. in Chemistry and Mathematics from West Virginia Wesleyan College in 2013 and completed her Ph.D. at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville before moving to UC Berkeley in 2019.

Christopher Chaston

Research PhysicistWork Phone: 510-643-1077Website: Publications at ADS

University of California, Berkeley, Space Sciences Laboratory

B.S. in Physics, University of Newcastle, Australia
PhD in Space Plasma Physics, University of Newcastle, Australia

Professional Background:
Space Physicist, UCB, 1996-2018
Future Fellow/Assoc. Prof., University of Sydney, Australia, 2013-16

Kolen Cheung

Graduate Student Researchers