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Professor Awarded Six-figure NSF Grant | Royal News: August 5 2022 – Scranton

Nathaniel Frissell, Ph.D., assistant professor of physics and electrical engineering at The University of Scranton, will lead a $399,211 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant-supported collaborative research project entitled “Measuring Daily Ionospheric Variability and the 2023 and 2024 Solar Eclipse Ionospheric Impacts Using HamSCI HF Doppler Shift Receivers.” As the lead principal investigator, Dr. Frissell will work with students at the University of Scranton, collaborators at Case Western Reserve University, and volunteers across the nation to study how dawn, dusk, and solar eclipses affect the electrified portion of the upper atmosphere known as the ionosphere. This will be done using a network of Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) stabilized/synchronized high frequency (HF) receivers (known as Grapes), which were developed as part of the $1.3 million NSF-funded HamSCI Personal Space Weather Station (PSWS) project he was awarded in 2019.
An annular solar eclipse will take place on Oct. 14, 2023 and a total solar eclipse will take place on April 8, 2024.
 “These are the last solar eclipses to traverse the continental United States until 2044, and are therefore important, time-sensitive, information rich opportunities for running unique and ‘controlled’ ionospheric experiments,” said Dr. Frissell. “This project takes advantage of the unprecedented opportunity to study the ionospheric impacts of the 2023 and 2024 solar eclipses and the daily ionospheric variability associated with dawn/dusk transitions.”
A better understanding of the impact of ionospheric disturbances is imperative, because these changes can affect crucial navigation and communications systems.
According to Dr. Frissell, this new NSF grant will fund an additional 30 Grape receivers that will be deployed throughout North America. Volunteers from the HamSCI amateur radio community will be able to fund and field additional stations. All stations will run continuously from deployment through at least the end of the project in 2025, and will capture the 2023 and 2024 eclipses. The grant will also support master’s and Ph.D. level student participation in the research data collection and analysis.
“This project will also establish a new network of measurement instruments that, due to its low- cost and operation by volunteers, has the potential to provide measurements for years to come,” said Dr. Frissell, who also noted that results of the project “will be shared widely with the amateur radio community through presentations at amateur radio conventions, local clubs, and publication in amateur radio magazines and journals.”
In a news release announcing NSF funding received by The University of Scranton and Marywood University, U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright said, “(t)he bright and talented STEM students trained by Marywood today become the Dr. Frissells of tomorrow, conducting cutting edge scientific research, but whether in the classroom or in the field, scientists and professors need funding to do their important work. As the chair of the Commerce-Justice-Science subcommittee that funds the National Science Foundation, I am proud to support this essential investment in education and research.”
In addition, Dr. Frissell was awarded a highly-competitive, five-year $616,054 NSF CAREER grant in 2020 to apply sophisticated, physics-based atmospheric/ionospheric models to extensive data sets collected through the international network of ham radio operators.
Dr. Frissell joined the faculty at Scranton in the fall of 2019. He earned a doctorate and a master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, and a bachelor’s degree in physics and music education from Montclair State University in New Jersey. He is the founder and lead organizer of the international citizen science space physics research collective known as the Ham Radio Science Citizen Investigation (HamSCI.org). HamSCI is recognized as an official NASA Citizen Science Project.
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