SOAR Student Profiles

Sydney Wilson

Sydney Wilson

  • SOAR Position: Member; Alumni
  • Major: Physics and Astronomy
  • Faculty Mentor(s): Dr. Chuck Higgins

Current Focus: Analyzing the Spectral Characteristics of Propagations Teepees

Additional Interests: Radio Astronomy and Deep Space Objects

Project Description

Propagation TPs, named for their shape, are a new phenomenon in radio astronomy first recorded by a group of citizen scientists ( the Spectrograph User Group) while observing Jupiter's radio emissions. Due to the relatively new interest in these features, not much has been done to characterize TPs. My research is to investigate the TPs characteristics and record the leading slope, apex frequency, and trailing slope of these features in the hopes we can tie these features to the ionospheric reflection of VHF emissions from lightning activities in remote thunderstorms., as theorized by Dr. Shing Fung at NASA Goddard. Once we have collected approximately 3 years' worth of data, we can analyze the data and reevaluate the hypothesis. This research will also allow us to understand these features more completely, and can hopefully pave the way to being able to trace these features back to individual thunderstorms and understand how they work with the ionosphere.

Why does this topic interest you?

Radio Astronomy has fascinated me since I was a high school student and the emergence of new spectral features within radio spectrographic observations is an exciting prospect. While they are most likely of terrestrial origin, this research will allow for other radio astronomers to be able to completely analyze their data and account for any errors caused by these ionospheric reflections.

What are your professional aspirations?

After graduating from MTSU, I plan to pursue a Ph.D. in Astrophysics and Planetary Sciences in order to join NASA and continue my work with space research. My long-term goal is to become an astronaut, and complete research in one of the most unique environments available to us, the ISS.

Do you have any advice for future researchers?

Don't be afraid to reach out to your advisors for help, especially if you're nervous about research! Most of my research has to do with plasma physics and ionospheric science, which I have had no formal training about; however, Dr. Higgins and Dr. Fung have been so helpful and patient with helping me along the way.

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