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— John Brown University

Assistant Physics Professor Dr. Daniel Main has

been awarded a National Science Foundation

grant for his upcoming study of the structure of

the northern and southern lights - aurora bore

alis and aurora australis.

The nearly $75,000 grant will be given to JBU

to cover the costs for an undergraduate research

assistant, travel, equipment and other research


Over the next three summers, Main and a JBU

student assistant will seek to understand the fine

scale structure of the aurora.

The aurora is caused by high-energy electrons

colliding with air molecules at around 100 kilo

meters in altitude. By using a computer code

which models the basic physics governing the

behavior of the electrons, they hope to learn

how the electrons are energized as they travel

toward earth. Main has been involved in various

levels of research of the electrons since 2002.

The input parameters for the computer code

were developed using observational data from

the Fast Auroral SnapShoT spacecraft and

research previously done by Main.

"This is a great opportunity for me and for

JBU students," said Main. "I look forward to

opening up an area of physics and engineering

that would not be possible without this funding."

Main, who is in his second year teaching

physics at JBU, is one of 15 in his field to receive

a grant from the NSF this year.

"This grant is a confirmation of our excellent

programs that allow students to be involved in

cutting-edge research," said Dr. Cal Piston, chair

of natural sciences at JBU.

The NSF is an independent federal agency

created by Congress in 1950 to promote the

progress of science. They fund approximately 20

percent of all federally supported research that

is conducted by American colleges and universi


News, Pages 7 on 08/19/2009

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