Thursday, March 31, 2022

The Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) at the University of Iowa has selected Associate Professor Gregory Howes as a Scholar of the Year as part of its annual Discovery and Innovation awards program. 

The Scholar of the Year award celebrates nationally recognized recent achievement in outstanding research, scholarly and/or creative activities by tenure- and/or research-clinical-track faculty members within the previous 24-month period.  

In his nomination for the award, Professor John Goree highlighted “Laboratory measurements of the physics of auroral electron acceleration by Alfven waves," a paper written by a team led by Howes. The June 2021 paper published in Nature Communications provides definitive evidence that the most brilliant auroras are produced by powerful electromagnetic waves during geomagnetic storms. The phenomena, known as Alfven waves, accelerate electrons toward Earth, causing the particles to produce the familiar atmospheric light show. 

The study concludes a decades-long quest to demonstrate experimentally the physical mechanisms for the acceleration of electrons by Alfven waves under conditions corresponding to Earth’s auroral magnetosphere. The paper generated 181 news articles, from six continents; CNN, NPR, and BBC were among the news outlets that reported on this paper. 

Professor Howes has secured $5.782 million in grants in 13 years at the University of Iowa. From February 2020 to February 2022 his grants exceeded $3.3 million from agencies including NASA, the Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation. 

Howes was among the recipients of 14 Discovery and Innovation awards that recognize exceptional researchers, scholars, innovators, students, and administrators at the University of Iowa.