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Rick Wilder

Research Scientist - Space Plasma


  • 303-735-7192
  • Office: SPSC-N279


Rick Wilder is a Research Scientist at LASP. His main research interests include magnetic field topology, large-scale field-aligned current systems (FACs), and magnetic reconnection. He received his Ph.D. in 2011 from Virginia Tech, where he worked on SuperDARN radar and ground magnetometer data under the supervision of Dr. Robert Clauer. He also helped build and deploy ground instruments in both Virginia and Antarctica.

He is currently working on the Magnetospheric Multi-Scale (MMS) mission's Burst Data and Scientist In The Loop program. In particular, the team is working on methods of identifying reconnection diffusion region candidates using a minimal amount of data. He is also working with data from the Cluster and AMPERE missions in conjunction with MHD simulations to understand the coupling between the magnetosheath-magnetopause interaction and the associated ionospheric current system.

He also organizes LASP's "Friends of the Magnetospheres (FOM)" seminar series.


Virginia Tech — Blacksburg, VA
Ph.D. Electrical Engineering and Space Science, 2011

Virginia Tech — Blacksburg, VA
B.S. Electrical Engineering, 2005


Research Interests and Skills Include: Magnetospheric Physics, Magnetic Field Topology, Magnetic Reconnection, Polar Cap Phenomena, The Bow Shock and Magnetosheath, Magnetosphere-Ionosphere Coupling, Radar Observations (Coherent and Incoherent Scatter), Data Analysis, and Numerical Modeling


MMS Scientist in the Loop and Burst Management

Observations of Magnetic Reconnection at the Earth's Magnetopause

Large-scale current systems on open field lines.


Wilder, F. D., S. Eriksson, and M. Wiltberger (2015), The role of magnetic flux tube deformation and magnetosheath plasma beta in the saturation of the Region 1 field-aligned current system. J. Geophys. Res. Space Physics, 120, 2036–2051. doi: 10.1002/2014JA020533.

Wilder, F. D., S. Eriksson, K. J. Trattner, P. A. Cassak, S. A. Fuselier, and B. Lybekk (2015), Observation of a retreating x line and magnetic islands poleward of the cusp during northward interplanetary magnetic field conditions, J. Geophys. Res. Space Physics, 119, pages 9643–9657. doi:10.1002/2014JA020453.

Baker, D. N., L. Riesberg, C. K. Pankratz, R. S. Panneton, B. L. Giles, F. D. Wilder and R. E. Ergun (2015), Magnetospheric Multiscale Instrument Suite Operations and Data System, Space Science Reviews, doi:10.1007/s11214-014-0128-5.

Kissinger, J., F. D. Wilder, R. L. McPherron, T.-S. Hsu, J. B. H. Baker, and L. Kepko (2013), Statistical occurrence and dynamics of the Harang discontinuity during steady magnetospheric [...]

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American Geophysical Union, Sigma Xi Research Society, Eta Kappa Nu Electrical Engineering Honor Society

Honors and awards

National Science Foundation Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences Postdoctoral Research Fellowship (AGS-PRF), 2012-2014
Honorable Mention, Jack Eddy Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2011
Inducted into the Sigma Xi Research Society, 2011
Best Student Tutorial Award, GEM Summer Workshop, 2009
Inducted into the Eta Kappa Nu Electrical Engineering Honor Society, 2004