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Dr Robert Wicks
  • Associate Professor
  • Inst for Risk & Disaster Reduction
  • Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences
  • Lecturer
  • Dept of Space & Climate Physics
  • Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences
UCL Principal Supervisor,UCL Subsidiary Supervisor

I received an undergraduate Masters degree in Physics from Imperial College London in 2005. My masters project focussed on the changing of solar irradiation due to the solar activity cycle and the comparison of different radiative transfer models of the solar chromosphere and photosphere. 

I then studied for my PhD at the University of Warwick with Professor Sandra Chapman and Professor Richard Dendy. My research focussed on non-linear measures of correlation and how measurements of complex systems can be made with limited data.

I finished my PhD at the end of 2008 and moved back to Imperial College London to work as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Space and Atmospheric Physics Group with Professor Tim Horbury. At Imperial my research focussed on solar wind turbulence and measuring the effect of the intrinsic magnetic field of the solar wind on the amplitude of fluctuations that formed the turbulent flow. 

In 2012 I moved to the USA to work as a NASA Postdoctoral Program Research Fellow at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. I continued my research into solar wind turbulence, investigating the conditions under which the turbulence develops and linking these to the rate at which the dissipation of energy by the turbulent motions occurs. In 2014 I moved to the University of Maryland having been successful in applying for funding from NASA to continue my research.

In 2015 I moved back to the UK to start work in my current position at UCL.

Research Themes
Research Summary

The main focus of my research is the solar wind and the effects of changing solar activity on the Earth. These two processes generate Space Weather, the dynamically changing environment of outer space around the Earth, that can have far-reaching implications for human life and society. I am particularly interested in how the high-speed streams of plasma that make up the solar wind are generated, heated and accelerated by the Sun, and how they interact, expand and eventually buffet the Earth. The solar wind is the medium through which energetic radiation, generated by solar flares and also by astrophysical processes outside the solar system, must pass to reach the Earth, and so understanding the solar wind better will allow us to better predict the radiation environment around the Earth.

Teaching Summary
I teach a module called The Variable Sun: Space Weather and You, covering the physics of space weather and the hazards and vulnerabilities that make up space weather risk, as well as the political and societal responses that the rapid changing of awareness of space weather is bringing about. I am the programme director for the MSc Space Risks and Disaster Reduction that is taught jointly by the Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction and the Department of Space and Climate Physics. I have also taught the MSc Space Science and Engineering Group Design Project, in which students work together to design a satellite to meet a scientific or societal need.
01-SEP-2019 Associate Professor IRDR & MSSL UCL, United Kingdom
02-MAR-2015 – 31-AUG-2019 Lecturer IRDR & MSSL UCL, United Kingdom
26-MAR-2014 – 28-FEB-2015 Research Scientist Physics and Astronomy University of Maryland, United States
26-MAR-2012 – 25-MAR-2014 NASA Postdoctoral Fellow Heliophysics Division Goddard Space Flight Center, United States
10-DEC-2008 – 28-FEB-2012 Postdoctoral Research Associate Space and Atmospheric Physics Imperial College London, United Kingdom
Academic Background
2018   Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy University College London
2009   Doctor of Philosophy University of Warwick
2005   Master of Natural Science Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine
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