A Conversation With Dr. Roderick Heelis

Researcher is an Expert on Problem of Ionospheric Disturbances

Feb. 19, 2009

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“ A Conversation With…”
is a series of informal and unscripted visits with leading figures from The University of Texas at Dallas.  From describing what an “aha!” moment feels like to explaining the moment or identifying the person that sparked a lifelong passion, these conversations will meander through the minds and memories that make up UT Dallas.

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Communication Manager
Brandon V. Webb

We sat down for A Conversation With...Dr. Roderick Heelis, the Cecil and Ida Green Honors Professor of Physics and director of the William B. Hanson Center for Space Sciences at UT Dallas.

Dr. Heelis is a fellow of the American Geophysical Union, an international scientific society devoted to the research of the Earth and space. 

He joined the UT Dallas Center for Space Sciences in 1973, after graduating from the University of Sheffield (England) with a Ph.D. in applied and computational mathematics.

Heelis is an expert on “space weather,” the phenomenon of disturbances that occur in the ionosphere, the gaseous band of charged particles that surround the Earth. 

Space weather “storms” can disrupt GPS signals and wreak havoc on navigation systems for planes, trucks, ships and even missiles. 

More Online

• Project Helps Fill Out Picture
      of Earth’s Ionosphere

• Heelis Named Fellow
      of American Geophysical Union

• Earth & Sky: Space storms

Heelis’ work may lead to a system that can predict when ionospheric storms are brewing, allowing crucial navigation systems time to adapt.

He is a passionate advocate for space science research and inspiring the next generation of students seeking answers from above the atmosphere.


Media contact: Brandon V. Webb, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, brandon.webb@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu

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Dr. Rod Heelis

“I’d just graduated, didn’t know what I was going to do, so (I was asked), ‘Why don’t you come to the U.S. for a year—go to Texas?’  So, I thought, that’ll be an interesting place…dirt roads, horses, people walking around with guns.  Of course it wasn’t like that at all, but it was a real, emerging time at UTD and for the space program.”

—Rod Heelis

On arriving at UT Dallas
from the University of Sheffield in 1973

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