Zhao Receives 2017 Fred L. Scarf Award

Hong Zhao will receive the 2017 Fred L. Scarf Award at the 2017 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, to be held 11–15 December in New Orleans, La. This award is given annually to “one honoree in recognition of an outstanding dissertation that contributes directly to solar–planetary science.”



Hong Zhao of the University of Colorado produced an extremely impressive Ph.D. dissertation titled “Unveiled characteristics of energetic electrons and ions: The inner radiation belt, slot region, and ring current.” It contains a number of important science results: (1) discovery of a peculiar pitch angle distribution with a minimum at 90° of relativistic electrons in the inner radiation belt based on the new high-resolution measurements from the NASA Van Allen Probes mission, which has led to a great deal of theoretical interest; (2) detailed investigation of the penetration of relativistic electrons into the low L region that displays a correlation with the geomagnetic storm intensity; (3) thorough analysis and explanation of the penetration of hundreds of keV electrons into the low L region by inward radial transport using solar wind–dependent radial diffusion coefficients that are very different from those of previous studies; and (4) determination of the contributions of electrons and oxygen ions to the total ring current energy density and their roles in the dynamics during geomagnetic storms. These results have helped further our understanding of the physics of radiation belt electrons, the ring current, and magnetospheric dynamics. The work has resulted in six first-author publications in the Journal of Geophysical Research or Geophysical Research Letters. Many of her papers are already very well cited.


—Larry Paxton, President, Space Physics and Aeronomy Section, AGU


I would like to thank the award committee and the AGU Space Physics and Aeronomy section for the great honor of being selected for this year’s Fred L. Scarf Award. I am grateful to many people who helped me along the way. Specifically, I would like to thank my Ph.D. advisor, Prof. Xinlin Li, for encouraging me to study abroad and join the University of Colorado at Boulder, offering me excellent guidance on my research, and giving me valuable career advice. I would also like to thank my other advisors from various stages in my career, Prof. Qiugang Zong, Dr. Reinhard Friedel, and Prof. Daniel Baker, for their valuable inspiration, guidance, and support. As my first research mentor and my undergraduate advisor, Prof. Zong taught me the essentials of space physics, mentored me with great patience, and encouraged me to start my current career path. Dr. Reinhard Friedel, as my research mentor at Los Alamos National Laboratory, provided me insightful inspiration and guidance for my research. Prof. Daniel Baker, as one of my doctoral committee members and my postdoctoral advisor, provided valuable advice and support for me to pursue my research. I also owe many thanks to my colleagues and collaborators, from whom I have benefited and learned a lot, for all the insightful discussion, advice, and encouragement. Finally, I would like to thank my family for their love and unwavering support.


—Hong Zhao, University of Colorado Boulder