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NASA - Dr. John Bonnell - THEMIS Project Scientist
October 12, 2006

Dr. John Bonnell, Space Sciences Laboratory
University of California, Berkeley

Dr John Bonnell holds a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Cornell
University (1996), and a B.S. in Physics from the University of California, Berkeley (1990).

He has been involved in Space Physics research since 1987, starting his career hanging 9-track magnetic tapes at SSL as an undergraduate student for Dr. Cynthia Cattell. After graduate school, he spent two years working with the Space and Atmospheric Physics Group at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and has been with the Space Physics Research Group at SSL since 1999.

His current research interests are in the study of momentum and energy transport between the magnetosphere and ionosphere, multi-sensor and multi-point analysis and identification of waves and other electric and magnetic field structures, drift- and shear-driven wave instabilities and their relationship to transverse ion acceleration, auroral electrodynamics, lower hybrid wave dynamics in inhomogeneous plasmas, and the mechanical and electrical design of E-field sensors for space applications.

Dr. Bonnell's role in THEMIS has been threefold. First, Dr. Bonnell performed orbital studies of the THEMIS constellation during Phase A in support of mission planning and probe engineering. Second, he served as the Lead Scientist on the Electric Field Instrument (EFI) under the tutelage of Prof. Forrest Mozer, leading a team of scientists, engineers, technicians and students in the design, fabrication and test of the hardware for the EFI on THEMIS. Finally, Dr. Bonnell applied his expertise in the analysis of single- and multi-point wave and particle data during the science phase of the mission towards the understanding of the timing of events during substorms and the possible wave-particle interactions observed by the THEMIS probes.

In graduate school, he participated in three auroral rocket campaigns under Prof. Paul Kintner of Cornell University - the first blew up on the pad (PHAZE), the second nearly led to a full-scale Russian military alert while providing important information about the role of low-frequency waves in the energization and expulsion of ionospheric plasma (SCIFER), while the third provided spectacular proof of trapped states of lower hybrid waves in the aurora (PHAZE-II).

When not in the lab, Dr. Bonnell enjoys spending time with his wife and two sons (Sarah, Max, and Jacob), volunteering at his older son's school in Oakland, CA (it's always funny to see the rocket scientist cleaning the rain gutters), carpentry, electronics and other sorts of repair work, and a nice bit of SciFi when he gets the chance.

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