Burcu Kosar

Burcu Kosar

  • RESEARCH ASSOCIATE
  • NASA/GSFC
  • Mail Code: 675
  • WASHINGTON , DC 20064
  • Employer: CATHOLIC UNIV OF AMERICA
  • Brief Bio

    Burcu Kosar has been working at NASA GSFC since 2015, employed by New Mexico Consortium through 2015-2018 as a member of the Geospace Physics Laboratory (673) and the Catholic University of America afterwards in the Ionospheric-Thermospheric-Mesospheric (ITM) Laboratory (675). Burcu is an expert in atmospheric and space physics, have studied critical regions of the Earth’s atmosphere through computational modeling and satellite data analysis. She has wide range of research interests including plasma discharge physics and computational electromagnetics, lightning related transient luminous events (TLEs), data science, citizen science, ionospheric outflow, and magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling. Specifically, Burcu has extensive experience in modeling upper atmospheric discharges, analyzing space weather data together with non-traditional citizen science data and application of state-of-the art machine learning frameworks to scientific data. She is actively involved in data science initiatives at NASA and continuously working to promote adaptation of AI/ML frameworks by the community. She has helped organizing the first NASA GSFC Workshop on Artificial Intelligence, Helio Hack Week 2020, and served as a mentor in internal task groups focused on data science. Burcu strongly supports innovative projects (Aurorasaurus) that can complement traditional scientific research and lead to new discoveries. Being a part of one has given her the opportunity to work with a highly interdisciplinary team and practice public outreach and science communication efforts. Since 2018, she has been leading summer internship activities of Heliophysics Science Division through CUA’s Scientific and Engineering Student Internship (SESI) program.

    Fun Fact: I was a professional volleyball player before concentrating my focus on academia. 

    Research Interests

    Plasma discharge physics and computational electromagnetics, electrical coupling between tropospheric thunderstorms and the middle and upper atmosphere, lightning and lightning related transient luminous events (TLEs), ionospheric physics, numerical modeling

    I have diverse research interests; however, I am an atmospheric physicist by training, and I have studied the electrical coupling between thunderstorms and the Earth’s middle and upper atmosphere through computational modeling. Of particular interest to me are sprites, which are brief optical emissions associated with the electrical activity of thunderstorm systems. My research work focused on the theoretical study of sprite initiation in the lower ionosphere and the role played by ionospheric inhomogeneities in this initiation process. I have developed an advanced physics-based model to simulate the formation and propagation of sprites and their associated optical emissions.

    Space physics, citizen science, aurora, and STEVE

    During my postdoc, I was primarily involved with a citizen science project called Aurorasaurus. My research focus was to analyze space weather data together with the citizen science data to improve our understanding and forecasting of the aurora for current space weather research needs. I was lucky enough to be a part of an exciting discovery of a new upper atmospheric phenomenon called STEVE (Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement). I strongly support innovative citizen science projects (such as Aurorasaurus) that can complement traditional scientific research. Being a part of one has given me the opportunity to work with a highly interdisciplinary team and to practice public outreach and science communication efforts. I am working ondeveloping my own citizen science project on transient luminous events (TLEs) that occur above the thunderstorms! I aim to improve our understanding of the physical mechanisms leading to their formation and how they couple to the upper atmosphere.

    Data Science

    During the summer of 2017, I was selected to participate at NASA Frontier Development Lab (FDL), an 8-week intensive data science research accelerator program. Participating at NASA FDL allowed me to tackle problems pertaining to the field of planetary defense using open-source data science frameworks. I was specifically involved with Solar-Terrestrial Interactions (STI) team working on improving our understanding of the solar influence on Earth’s magnetosphere and ionosphere. Since then, I am actively involved in data science initiatives at NASA and continuously working to promote adaptation of AI/ML frameworks by the community. I have helped organizing the first NASA GSFC Workshop on Artificial Intelligence and Helio Hackweek 2020. I intend to continue working on the application of data science to the wealth of scientific data collected by various NASA missions led by Heliophysics, Earth and Planetary Science divisions. 

    Ion Outflow

    I am actively involved with ionospheric outflow research efforts. Solar ultraviolet (UV) photons and auroral precipitation are two significant energy inputs important to understand the upper atmospheric upflows and outflows. Specifically, I am working on understanding how outflow evolves under dynamically changing conditions of high latitude auroral precipitation. To understand the effects of various classes of auroral precipitation on the outflow problem, we have simulated the motion of a single flux tube through the high latitude/polar region, studied how the plasma on this flux tube is exposed to different auroral inputs and solar illumination over time and the corresponding response of the upper atmosphere. In this work, the particle precipitation output from OVATION Prime 2013 model was used for the first time to drive the Polar Wind Outflow Model (PWOM) for studying the ionospheric outflow. 


    Current Projects

    GDC Misson

    Currently involved with the Geospace Dynamics Constellation (GDC), NASA’s next Living With a Star (LWS) mission, that will revolutionize our understanding of the upper atmosphere (300-400km altitudes). This critical region of geospace is where energy inputs from the Sun, Earth’s magnetosphere, and lower atmosphere couple to create a complex and dynamic behavior. GDC’s constellation design in Low-Earth orbit will allow observations of the global and regional responses of the upper atmosphere to aforementioned energy inputs. Currently in Phase A, GDC is planned to launch in 2027. 

    Data Science at NASA GSFC

    I continuously support efforts to demonstrate the utility of machine learning and artificial intelligence (data science) techniques to advance scientific knowledge using data/models as a part of Science Data Analytics and Machine Learning for NASA Science Mission Data Task Group (Helioanalytics). I also serve as a mentor in internal task groups/IRAD projects focused on data science. 

    Ion Outflow

    Effort to demonstrate effects of various types of auroral precipitation on atmospheric ion outflow using a state-of-the-art numerical model, Polar Wind Outflow Model (PWOM).

    Heliophysics Science Division SESI Program Coordinator

    Since 2018, I have been leading summer internship activities of Heliophysics Science Division through CUA’s Scientific and Engineering Student Internship (SESI) program.

    Professional Service

    Member of American Geophysical Union (AGU) and Sigma Pi Sigma (National Physics Honor Society); Panelist for NASA proposal review panels; External proposal reviewer for NSF; Judge for student paper competition at AGU Fall Meeting; Supervised high school and undergraduate students; Assisted in paper review for Geophysical Research Letters, and Journal of Geophysical Research; Author/Co-Author of blog posts on sprites and auroral beads; Volunteer at NASA outreach events (USA Science and Engineering Festival 2015, Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Science Jamboree 2015 - NASA/GSFC, NASA Heliophysics Booth - AGU Fall Meeting 2016-2017); Participation at APS Professional Skills Development Workshop on Communication and Leadership Skills, 2015 - Baltimore, MD.

    Education

    Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Physics (2015), Florida Institute of Technology, USA - Dissertation: Sprite Streamer Formation and Propagation: Theory and Observations,

    Master of Science (M.S.), Space Sciences (2010), Florida Institute of Technology, USA - Thesis: Investigation of the Exponential Growth Rates of Sprite Streamer Characteristics

    Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Physics (Magna Cum Laude) (2008), Florida Institute of Technology, USA

    Awards

    2019    NASA Agency Honor Award, STEVE/Aurorasaurus Team

    2019    Heliophysics Science Division Peer Award 

    2019    Robert H. Goddard Honor Award, STEVE/Aurorasaurus Team

    2018    Best Postdoc Poster, NASA GSFC SED’s 11th Annual Poster Party

    2017    Unexpected Discovery Award, NASA Frontier Development Lab

    2011    2nd Prize - Mesosphere Lower Thermosphere, NSF CEDAR Student Poster Competition 

    2011    Outstanding Student Paper Award, AGU Fall Meeting

    2009    Outstanding Graduate Student in Physics, Florida Institute of Technology 

    Professional Societies

    American Geophysical Union (AGU), 2009 - Present
    Sigma Pi Sigma, 2007 - Present

    Brief Bio

    Burcu Kosar has been working at NASA GSFC since 2015, employed by New Mexico Consortium through 2015-2018 as a member of the Geospace Physics Laboratory (673) and the Catholic University of America afterwards in the Ionospheric-Thermospheric-Mesospheric (ITM) Laboratory (675). Burcu is an expert in atmospheric and space physics, have studied critical regions of the Earth’s atmosphere through computational modeling and satellite data analysis. She has wide range of research interests including plasma discharge physics and computational electromagnetics, lightning related transient luminous events (TLEs), data science, citizen science, ionospheric outflow, and magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling. Specifically, Burcu has extensive experience in modeling upper atmospheric discharges, analyzing space weather data together with non-traditional citizen science data and application of state-of-the art machine learning frameworks to scientific data. She is actively involved in data science initiatives at NASA and continuously working to promote adaptation of AI/ML frameworks by the community. She has helped organizing the first NASA GSFC Workshop on Artificial Intelligence, Helio Hack Week 2020, and served as a mentor in internal task groups focused on data science. Burcu strongly supports innovative projects (Aurorasaurus) that can complement traditional scientific research and lead to new discoveries. Being a part of one has given her the opportunity to work with a highly interdisciplinary team and practice public outreach and science communication efforts. Since 2018, she has been leading summer internship activities of Heliophysics Science Division through CUA’s Scientific and Engineering Student Internship (SESI) program.

    Fun Fact: I was a professional volleyball player before concentrating my focus on academia. 

                                                                                                                                                                                            
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