The Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation recognizes Joseph Baker, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering in the College of Engineering, for studying the weather — in space.
Baker researches inter-hemispheric connections in space weather, particularly the ionosphere, which is the electrically charged component of the Earth’s upper atmosphere. Dynamics in the near-Earth space environment can have serious impacts on technological systems such as satellites, electrical power grids, global positioning systems, and communication networks such as cell phones.
Baker uses measurements from the Super Dual Auroral Radar Network, or SuperDARN, in both hemispheres to investigate ionospheric irregularities and plasma convection.
He came to Virginia Tech when the SuperDARN team moved from the Johns Hopkins University so the program could be embedded in an academic environment that integrates research and education. Virginia Tech’s SuperDARN group operates five SuperDARN radars in Canada and the United States, and is involved in ongoing efforts to build several more such installations.
Scientists and government agencies around the world routinely use SuperDARN data to investigate the many effects of space weather and monitor conditions in real-time.
Baker researches electromagnetics, remote sensing, high frequency radar, space science, aurora, and magnetosphere-ionosphere physics. He is working on an alert system which reads real-time Advanced Composition Explorer satellite data and an index of magnetic activity data and sends email and text alerts when a geomagnetic storm is in progress.
This summer, he led a group of seven undergraduates to attend the first Space Weather Science School in Oslo, Norway. The school is a three-year collaboration between the University of Oslo, the University of Electro-Communications in Japan, and Virginia Tech.
He is a member of the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and is affiliated with the Center for Space Science and Engineering Research.
Baker received his Ph.D. in atmospheric and space sciences from the University of Michigan in 2001. He received a bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of New England (Australia) in 1992.