It’s hard to believe the summer is almost gone and the fall semester is about to begin. I hope you all had some time to relax, rewind, and recharge to be ready for another academic year full of activities!
The summer was busy with in person conferences, a welcome change from the past few years. Hearing presentations, taking part in discussions, and just seeing colleagues in real life is ever so much nicer than sitting in front of a zoom screen! As much fun as that was, the pandemic is not over – way too many people caught COVID suffering from milder or more severe symptoms. As the semester starts, I hope we can continue to keep our work environment safe through practices that have proven efficient – vaccinating, washing hands, masking, and staying home when ill.
Meanwhile at the department, we hosted yet another amazing group of students in our PICASSO program. Representing universities from Puerto Rico to California, from Wisconsin to Missouri, the students worked with our faculty for a 10-week undergraduate research experience. While many students quoted great learning experiences, they also pointed out the friendships formed during their time at CLaSP. Connecting with people from different backgrounds and from all over the world is to me one of the highlights of a career in science, but I also think it is the backbone for creating an inclusive work environment.
The National Academies’ Decadal Survey on Heliophysics is starting now and will run through the next two years. The Decadal Survey outlines strategic research directions for the NASA, NSF and NOAA solar, space physics and space weather activities for the period spanning from 2024 to 2033. Many of us at CLaSP will be part of the survey process, as we author white papers, contribute our expertise in meetings, or serve as members of the various panels under the decadal. Now is the time to get your wild ideas out to the community!
I’d like to warmly welcome our new undergraduate and graduate students to the department. We all look forward to seeing you on campus, and hope that you will become active and engaged members of our community. Please don’t hesitate to ask when you don’t know, bring up suggestions where you see room for improvement, or voice your concerns if such arise. And remember that we are strongly committed to creating a safe and equitable environment – please act if you see misbehavior, and please report if you become victim of any kind of harassment. We are here for you.
I am excited to introduce our two new faculty members, Jim Raines and Dan Welling. They bring amazing expertise on space hardware and numerical modeling of space plasmas, respectively, and will strengthen the Michigan traditional strongholds in the science of space weather. Welcome Jim and Dan!
We’ve been through a few tough years that have taken a toll on the physical and mental health of many in our community, faculty, staff, and students alike. I urge you all to take good care of yourself and of people around you. Anticipating close-to-normal operations in the upcoming fall semester, it is time to build back the social activities that are a key part of a university experience. Look forward to seeing you on campus!
— Chair Tuija Pulkkinen