Date of Award

Fall 2023

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Marc R Lessard

Second Advisor

Dawn Meredith

Third Advisor

Lynn Kistler


This dissertation showcases the projects that I have been involved with since I joined the Magnetosphere-Ionosphere Research Laboratory (MIRL) at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) in August 2017, under the guidance of my research advisor, Marc Lessard. Chapters 1, 2, and 3 of this dissertation are intended to provide the science background necessary to discuss the research projects presented in Chapters 4, 5, and 6 respectively.

The system that this dissertation addresses is complex and interconnected. In the most general sense, the Sun interacts with the Earth through the highly conductive, magnetized plasma that it emits, which directly shapes the Earth's magnetic environment and drives the plasma dynamics therein. Granted, the devil is in the details. The science background presented in the introductory chapters is intended provide a broad-strokes overview of this system while remaining accessible to readers of varying degrees of familiarity with the material. It is not intended to provide a comprehensive introduction to the material, as the sheer breadth and depth of each topic could easily fill its own textbook, and is ultimately beyond the scope of this dissertation. Indeed, there are many wonderful textbooks about space physics, and I encourage the interested reader to delve further into this subject matter. I strongly recommend beginning with the materials often referenced throughout Chapters 1 through 3.

The common theme that runs through my research projects is the concept of ion upflow, which is described in detail in Chapter 4. Further, this chapter discusses the observation and characterization of ion upflow and downflow as seen during a neutral upwelling event, and provides the basis for a manuscript currently in preparation. Chapter 5 discusses observations of two separate events in which ion upflow was observed in conjunction with pulsating aurora, described in detail in Chapter 5. Although there is currently no established or known causal relationship between ion upflow and pulsating aurora, observations of the two phenomena occurring in coincidence provide the basis for the studies discussed in Chapter 5, and hence, are a significant part of this dissertation. Further, the material presented in Section 5.1 provides the basis a manuscript that has since been published. It is worth noting that although both (Type II) ion upflow and pulsating aurora are driven by precipitating electrons (albeit, precipitating electron populations with very different energies), observations of pulsating aurora are generally more common and more widespread than ion upflow.

I have also been involved with the development (including design, fabrication, testing, and calibration), of particle instrumentation during my time at MIRL. Therein, my main hardware focus has been the development of the Thermal Ion Gated Time-of-Flight (TIGTOF) ion mass spectrometer prototype (v.1) and its subsequent redesign (v.2). The original TIGTOF v.1 prototype and the development of its redesigned elements as TIGTOF v.2 are discussed in Chapter 6.