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Amitava Bhattacharjee Elected a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union

Amitava Bhattacharjee, head of the Theory Department at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) and professor of astrophysical sciences at Princeton University, has been elected a fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). The award, bestowed on less than one-tenth of one percent of AGU members each year, is given to those who have "made exceptional contributions to Earth and space sciences as valued by their peers." Bhattacharjee will specifically be recognized for "seminal contributions to our understanding of reconnection processes and turbulence in the solar corona, interplanetary medium, and planetary magnetospheres."

The award will be presented on Dec. 17 in San Francisco during the AGU's 48th annual fall meeting. The conference, the largest Earth and space science meeting in the world, is expected to attract around 22,000 attendees and feature 23,000 oral and poster presentations. 

"I feel deeply honored to have been named an AGU Fellow," said Bhattacharjee, who is one of only three honorees from the entire space physics and aeronomy section. "Being recognized by one's peers is deeply gratifying."

Amitava was richly supported by fellow members. "He is a superb researcher in areas bridging space physics, astrophysics, and fusion; an inspiring leader; and an eloquent advocate for science," Martin Lee, professor at the University of New Hampshire's Space Science Center, said in his nomination letter. Concurred Gary Zank, director of the Center for Space Plasma and Aeronomic Research at the University of Alabama-Huntsville: "Amitava's contributions have been far-reaching, fundamental, seminal, and of long-lasting impact over a range of space physics disciplines."

Bhattacharjee joined PPPL in 2012 from the University of New Hampshire, where he held an endowed professorship and ran the Center for Integrated Computation and Analysis of Reconnection and Turbulence. He previously taught at the University of Iowa and Columbia University after earning his PhD in astrophysical sciences from Princeton University. From 2006-2009 he was senior editor of Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics.

Bhattacharjee's research is wide-ranging, encompassing magnetic reconnection and turbulence in fusion, space, and astrophysical plasmas, dusty plasmas, and free-electron lasers. In recent years, the primary focus of his research has been magnetic reconnection, when magnetic fields disconnect and suddenly snap together again to release large amounts of energy. He is currently co-director with physicist Jay Johnson of the Princeton Center for Heliospheric Physics. "I was educated in the plasma physics community and then moved into space physics mid-career," he said. "The space physics community has been very receptive, and I'm grateful."

Founded in 1919, the AGU is an international non-profit organization that has approximately 62,000 members. The organization has 23 specialties, including atmospheric and space electricity, ocean sciences, mineral and rock physics, and seismology.

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Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory managed by Princeton University.

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