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UCL Department of Space and Climate Physics

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Dr Daniel Verscharen

Dr Daniel Verscharen

Senior Research Fellow

Dept of Space & Climate Physics

Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences

Joined UCL
1st Sep 2017

Research summary

In my research, I investigate the plasma physics of the solar wind and the solar corona. A plasma is a gas in which the ions and electrons are separated from each other and do not form neutral atoms like in a regular gas. The solar wind is a tenuous magnetised plasma. The moving charged plasma particles modify and react to electric and magnetic fields. This leads to a behaviour that is very different from the behaviour of neutral gases like the air. My work combines analytical theory, numerical simulations, and spacecraft observations to understand the fundamental physics behind the behaviour of plasma in space. I am especially interested in wave-particle interactions, kinetic waves and instabilities, turbulence, plasma heating, and shock waves.

I am a Co-Investigator for the Solar Wind Plasma Analyser (SWA) instrument on board ESA’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft. Solar Orbiter launched in 2020 and explores the inner heliosphere and its connection with the Sun in great detail. The SWA instrument suite measures the in-situ properties of protons, electrons, alpha particles, and heavy ions with unprecedented resolution and quality. 

Teaching summary

I currently teach the lecture course "Planetary Atmospheres" at UCL. This course is aimed at fourth-year undergraduate students in physics and graduate students in UCL's MSc programme "Space Science and Engineering". I also co-supervise the Group Project in this module. In the Group Project, the students design a scientific space mission, including all aspects such as science background and requirements, mission profile, launcher choice, orbit design, financial management, communications, and operations.

In addition, I supervise and co-supervise MSc students in their individual project work and PhD students during their thesis research.

Education

Other Postgraduate qualification (including professional), ATQ03 - Recognised by the HEA as a Fellow | 2019
Technische Universitat Carolo Wilhelmina zu Braunschweig
Doctorate, Doctor rerum naturalium | 2012
Rheinische Friedrich- Wilhelms- Universitat Bonn
First Degree, Diplom | 2007

Biography

I received my undergraduate degree in physics and astronomy from the University of Bonn, Germany in 2007. Afterwards, I moved to the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Lindau, Germany to study for my PhD. In my thesis, I explore convective wave structures and spectral transfer in the solar corona and the solar wind. For this work, I received my PhD in physics from the Technical University Braunschweig, Germany in 2012.


In the same year, I moved to the University of New Hampshire, where I first worked as a Research Scientist, later as a Research Assistant Professor at the Space Science Center. During this time, I investigated the role of alpha-particles for the behaviour of the solar wind and studied the theory behind plasma waves and wave-particle interactions.

In 2017, I was awarded with the Ernest Rutherford Fellowship from the Science and Technology Facilities Council. With this fellowship, I moved to UCL's Mullard Space Science Laboratory, where I now work as a Senior Research Fellow and Lecturer in Space Plasma Physics.

Publications