LASP director receives prestigious Shen Kuo award

LASP director Daniel Baker has received the 2015 Shen Kuo Award from the International Association of Geomagnetism and Aeronomy (IAGA), the top award for interdisciplinary achievements given every four years by the organization.

Dr. Dan Baker

LASP director, Daniel Baker, has received a number of highly-regarded international awards in recent years. (Courtesy Patrick Campbell/CU-Boulder)

Baker, a University of Colorado Boulder Distinguished Professor, was presented with the award at the 26th General Assembly of the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG) held in Prague in the Czech Republic. IAGA is a constituent organization of IUGG and is dedicated to advancing, promoting and communicating knowledge of the Earth system, its space environment, and the dynamical processes causing change.

Baker’s primary research interests include the study of plasma physics and energetic particle phenomena in planetary magnetospheres—protective magnetic space environments—including the one surrounding Earth. He conducts research in space instrument design, space physics data analysis, and magnetospheric modeling. Baker is an international expert on extreme “space weather” caused by solar activity and how it can impact satellites, GPS, ground communications and electrical power grids.

Baker, also a faculty member in CU-Boulder’s Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences Department, has won a number of international awards in recent years. He was selected to give the prestigious Kavli Foundation Planetary Lecture ship at the American Astronomical Society’s 225th meeting in Seattle in January and was awarded the Vikram A. Sarabhai Professorship and Prize, which honors international scholars and is named for the founder of India’s space program, in spring 2015.

Baker, who chaired the National Research Council’s (NRC) 2012 Decadal Survey for Solar and Space Physics, is currently involved in a number of NASA missions, including the MESSENGER mission to Mercury, the Van Allen Probes mission, the MAVEN mission now at Mars, and the Magnetospheric Multiscale mission launched in March. The NRC is an arm of the National Academy of Sciences.

The prize is named after Shen Kuo, a Chinese scientist and statesman of the Song Dynasty (960-1279). A mathematician, astronomer, geologist, cartographer, zoologist, botanist, ethnographer and poet, he was the first to describe magnetic compass needle, the concept of magnetic poles and the concept of “true north.” Baker is the second ever recipient of the award.

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