People

Dr. Alicia Petersen

Assistant Professor
Address MAE-A Phone: (352) 392-3496 Website: http://aliciapetersen.com/

Biography

Alicia Petersen is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) at the University of Florida. Through data analysis, instrumentation and modeling, Dr. Petersen researches the kinetic physics, magnetism and dynamics at play during the transit and interaction of space weather phenomena in the inner solar system, their impacts on spacecraft, and strategies for mitigating the impacts of space weather.

Dr. Petersen joined the Department of MAE in 2022 after being an NRC Research Fellow at the Space Vehicles Directorate of the Air Force Research Laboratory where she researched the propagation of space weather events in order to improve space weather forecasting, with the aim of enhancing space situational awareness and protecting space-based assets for the US Air Force and Space Force. Dr. Petersen earned her PhD and MS from the Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering Dept. at the University of Michigan.

Research

Space weather events have damaging effects on spacecraft, communications, GPS, air transportation, and power systems. Space weather is caused by phenomena which originate at the Sun and propagate through the inner solar system before reaching Earth. This region is dominated by the Sun’s heliospheric magnetic field, which is both shaped by and shapes the propagation of ionized plasma and particles throughout the solar system. This includes explosive eruptions of plasma known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs) and energetic particles known as solar energetic particles (SEPs). Dr. Petersen’s lab, SWIFT (Space Weather Impacts, Forecasting and Transit) at MAE does computational modeling of the Sun’s magnetic field and solar electrons in the inner solar system, designing/building instrumentation for monitoring space weather and using in situ space-based observations of solar particles to investigate the propagation and interactions of space weather events.

Education

Dr. Alicia Petersen earned her PhD & MS in Space Physics, Engineering and Scientific Computing from the Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering Department in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan. Dr. Petersen spent two years studying particle physics and German while studying abroad in Erlangen, Germany and doing research at the Remeis-Sternwarte Observatory in Bamberg, Germany. She earned her undergraduate degree in Physics and Mathematics from Kalamazoo College in Michigan.

Teaching

The Space Environment; Space Physics; Heliophysics; Dynamics; Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Justice (DEIJ) in STEM,

Engineering Education and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Dr. Petersen has served on the Executive Committee of the American Geophysical Union’s Education Section. She researches and implements research-based education practices in her lab and classroom to create engaging and inclusive learning environments. Dr. Petersen is passionate about promoting diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), and has extensive training and experience engaging in actions to enhance DEI in the teaching, research and culture of academia.