Four Scientists Join Florida Tech Physics and Space Sciences This Spring

MELBOURNE, FLA.—This spring the Florida Institute of Technology Department of Physics and Space Sciences welcomed four new scientists: Daniel Batcheldor, assistant professor; Konstantin Gamayunov, senior research associate; Jingkun Zhao, research scientist; and Pingbing Zuo, research associate.

Batcheldor is the newest member of the department’s full-time faculty. In addition to his research and teaching duties, he serves as director of the campus observatory, which houses the 0.8-m Ortega telescope, the largest research telescope in Florida. An astronomer, Batcheldor was formerly associate research scientist at Rochester Institute of Technology’s (RIT) Center for Imaging Science. He earned his doctoral degree in astrophysics in 2004 from the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom and has been at RIT since then. At RIT he was recognized for his outstanding teaching in undergraduate physics classes as well as for his research. He has been awarded more than $460,000 in NASA funding for his research on supermassive black holes, much of which involves observations with the Hubble Space Telescope.

Senior Research Associate Gamayunov graduated in 1994 with a Ph.D. in space physics and mathematics from the Institute of Terrestrial Magnetism, Ionosphere, and Radio Wave Propagation in Moscow. Before coming to Florida Tech, Gamayunov was a visiting research professional at the Universities Space Research Association of National Space Science and Technology Center in Huntsville, Ala.

Zuo most recently was an assistant research professional at the State Key Laboratory of Space Weather, Center for Space Science and Applied Research at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. He earned a Ph.D. in space sciences from there in 2008.

Both Gamayunov and Zuo are working with professors of physics and space sciences Ming Zhang and Hamid Rassoul on a NASA-funded study of the heliosheath. This is the outermost region of the sun’s atmosphere, which is more than two-and-a-half times farther than Pluto is from the sun.

Zhao begins a three-year appointment with the astronomy research group. Before coming to Florida Tech he was a staff astronomer at the National Astronomical Observatories of China (NAOC) in Beijing, working on the LAMOST spectroscopic survey facility. LAMOST is one of China’s largest optical telescope projects. Zhao earned his doctoral degree in astronomy in 2007 at the NAOC. He is working with Terry Oswalt, head of the Department of Physics and Space Sciences, on a National Science Foundation-funded research project to investigate how star activity declines with age and how much mass they lose when they run out of hydrogen to burn.


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