The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a grant of $199,052 to Earl Scime, professor and chair of physics in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences at West Virginia University, for his research on Alfvén Waves.

NSF will sponsor Dr. Scimes project on acceleration and heating of the fast solar wind,Experimental Investigation of Ion Response to Propagating Alfvén Waves.

The National Science Foundation is an independent U.S. government agency that supports fundamental research and education.

Scime and physics graduate students will be investigating the effects of Alfvén Waves on heating ions in the solar wind plasma. The ions, electrically conductive particles in the ionized gas known as plasma, drive the expansion of the solar wind. The solar wind originates in the upper atmosphere of the Sun, or corona, which extends millions of kilometers into space and can be seen as the luminous crown in a solar eclipse.

The team is researching whether low frequency Alfvén Waves, a disturbance thought to be created lower in the solar atmosphere, can pump enough energy into ions to heat up the corona and cause the solar wind.

Scimes study is consistent with the primary mission of plasma physics research at WVU which is development of laboratory experiments that explore the physics of space plasma phenomena.

The broader impact of the work involves the training of new graduate students in plasma physics, the improvement of the percentage of women earning advanced degrees in physics, and the involvement of undergraduates in cutting-edge scientific research,Scime said.The proposed project will also provide young scientists an opportunity to develop international collaborations and to gain experience working in teams and institutions, thereby preparing the next generation of scientists for productive research careers.

Scime earned his doctorate degree in physics from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1992 and joined the WVU Department of Physics in 1995 as assistant professor.

He received the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Teaching Award in 1998 and 2004; Eberly College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Researcher Award in 2001; WVU Foundation Outstanding Teaching Award in 1999; and Benedum Outstanding Researcher Award in 2005.

Since 1999, he has mentored six undergraduate Goldwater Scholars at WVU . He currently teaches courses in modern physics, computational plasma physics and magnetohydrodynamics.