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McCormick Wins AGU Outstanding Student Paper Award

Atlanta, GA

Jackson McCormick won an Outstanding Student Paper Award at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union, held December 14-18, 2015 in San Francisco, California. This award is highly competitive and is given to only a few percent of the approximately 2,700 student presenters, based on both content and presentation.  

McCormick is a third-year Ph.D. student in the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE). He is a member of the Low Frequency Radio Group and is advised by ECE Assistant Professor Morris Cohen.

McCormick was honored for his presentation entitled “X-Ray Solar Flare Induced Ionospheric Perturbations Observed by VLF Sferics.” His work has focused on developing a technique that uses radio emissions from lightning, detected thousands of miles away from thunderstorms, as a proxy to track the electrical conditions of the upper atmosphere and lower ionosphere (65-85 km altitude).

This region is too high to reach with balloons, and too low to measure with satellites, yet has major impacts on several types of communications and radar signals and on global navigation. The radio emissions from lightning in the Very Low Frequency (VLF) range (3-30 kHz) reflect efficiently at these altitudes, and are thus sensitive to even small changes in ionospheric conditions.

McCormick’s technique processes and analyzes these lightning radio emissions, which was the subject of his presentation, and he also demonstrated his technique by tracking the ionosphere during a recent solar x-ray flare event.

Last revised May 15, 2020