Dr. Sarah Gibson


Summary Biographical Statement

Office Address

High Altitude Observatory
National Center for Atmospheric Research
p.o. box 3000, Boulder, Colorado, 80307-30000, USA
Phone: 303 497 1587
FAX: 303 497 1589
E-Mail: sgibson@solar.stanford.edu

Biographical Data

Birthdate: 08/28/67
Place of Birth: San Francisco, USA
Citizenship: USA


University of Colorado, Boulder
Ph.D. in Astrophysics, August, 1995
M.S. in Astrophysics, May, 1993
Stanford University
B.S. in Physics, June, 1989
Departmental Honors in Physics

Honors and Awards

  • AAS-SPD 2005 Karen Harvey Prize, June, 2005
  • NSF-NATO Postdoctoral Fellowship, Jan 1999 - Jan 2000
  • NRC (National Research Council) Associateship, Apr 1996 - Apr 1998
  • NASA Graduate Student Research Program (GSRP) Studentship, Aug 1992 - Aug 1995
  • University Fellowship, University of Colorado, Boulder, Aug 1989 - May 1991
  • Graduate School Dean's Small Grant Award, Univ. of Colorado, May 1991
  • American Astronomical Society Solar Physics Division Studentship Award, June 1990
  • Departmental Honors in Physics, Stanford University, June 1989
  • National Merit Scholarship, Stanford University, June 1985
  • Bay Area Engineers Week Prize Scholarship, Stanford University, Jan 1985

  • Work Experience

    Scientist, High Altitude Observatory, NCAR
    Term of employment:      (February 2001-May 2001 Visiting Scientist) June 2001-
    Supervisor:    Dr. Boon-Chye Low, High Altitude Observatory
    Work in progress: I am working on two main projects.  The first involves modeling three-dimensional density structures, both time-invariant and CMEs, in order to develop analysis techniques for the upcoming STEREO mission.  The second involves determining observational indicators of the emergence of magnetic flux ropes into the corona.   Particular attention will be paid to the potential on-disk signatures of CMEs known as sigmoids. A detailed observational analysis  has been completed using observations taken during the Whole Sun Month 3 (WSM3) campaign, which I coordinated with Dr. Doug Biesecker in August, 1998.
    Research Assistant Professor in Physics, The Catholic University of America
    Term of Employment:    February 2000- January 2001
    Head of department:    Dr. Charles Montrose, The Catholic University of America
    Work accomplished:  As well as analyzing Whole Sun Month 3 sigmoids, I determined streamer boundaries, density and temperature distribution, and streamer evolution over the 3 days of the 1998 Spartan 201-05 mission.  Both white light and UV/EUV line emission data from Spartan, SOHO, TRACE, and MLSO were considered.
    NSF-NATO Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Cambridge
    Term of Employment:    January 1999 - January 2000
    Host advisor:    Dr. Helen Mason, University of Cambridge
    Work accomplished:  The subject of my NSF-NATO fellowship was "Coronal Connections", in particular the use of theoretical models as a framework in which to compare and connect solar coronal structures seen on multiple scales.  Both "static" coronal streamer structures and potentially dynamic sigmoids were observed during the Whole Sun Month 3 campaign and the Spartan white light coronagraph mission.  I began the analyses of both sets of data: the Spartan analysis with Drs. Richard Fisher, Andrzej Fludra, Lika Guhathakurta and Theresa Kucera, and the WSM3 sigmoid data with Drs. Helen Mason and Dave Pike (we have also done a preliminary analysis using archived  SOHO/CDS data).   I also published a theoretical interpretation of these sigmoidal CME precursors and associated filaments.
    Research Assistant Professor in Physics, The Catholic University of America
    Term of Employment:    April 1998 - January 1999
    Head of department:    Dr. Charles Montrose, The Catholic University of America
    Work accomplished:   As a member of the Spartan satellite white light coronagraph team, I contributed to operations during the November 1998 mission.  Along with Drs. Lika Guhathakurta and Richard Fisher I developed an observing campaign that coordinated observations from the Spartan, SOHO/CDS, and TRACE telescopes.   A particular focus of these studies was the onset of coronal mass ejections (CMEs).  My work with CME modeling continued, comparing model structures to observations, and studying the three-dimensional nature of the CME.
    NRC (National Research Council) Associateship, NASA Goddard
    Term of employment:    April 1996 - April 1998
    Supervisor:     Dr. Richard Fisher, NASA Goddard
    Work accomplished:  I continued to work with coronal models, in particular applying a magnetostatic model to an extensive set of observations capturing a solar rotation at solar minimum.  I co-organized this Whole Sun Month campaign with Dr. Doug Biesecker, and coordinated observations from both ground-based datasets and datasets from spacecraft including the SOHO satellite.  In addition to the original observing campaign, Dr.Biesecker and I also coordinated two workshops, two American Geophysical Union special sessions, and a special issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research containing 19 Whole Sun Month papers (four with me as an author).
    Postdoctoral Fellowship, High Altitude Observatory, NCAR
    Term of employment:    October 1995 - April 1996
    Supervisors:     Dr. B. C. Low and Dr. P. Charbonneau, High Altitude Observatory
    Work accomplished:  With Dr. Charbonneau, I applied genetic algorithm techniques to coronal modeling.  With Dr. Low, I developed a three-dimensional, time-dependent, analytic model of CMEs.
    Research Assistant, University of Colorado atBoulder (NASA Graduate Student Research Program (GSRP) 1992-1995)
    Term of employment:    January 1990 - August 1995
    Supervisor:     Dr. Fran Bagenal, University of Colorado
    Work accomplished:  As a graduate student, I studied the large-scale structure of magnetic fields and densites in the solar corona, and also examined temperature gradients and coronal currents.  This work formed the basis of my Ph.D.
    Teaching Assistant, University of Colorado, Boulder
    Term of employment:   August 1989 - December 1989
    Supervisor:     Dr. Raul Stern, University of Colorado
    Work accomplished:   I was a teaching assistant in the freshman astronomy lab.  This entailed writing and presenting two lectures per week, as well as supervising students lab-work and grading their final results.
    Undergraduate Assistant, Stanford University
    Term of employment:    July 1988 - August 1989
    Supervisor:     Dr. Phil Scherrer, Stanford University
    Work accomplished: Projects included an analysis of the combined instrumental uncertainty on Stanford's Wilcox Solar Observatory solar velocity measurements, work with Dr. Brian Tinsley on the effects of solar flares on the earth's storm patterns, and an honors thesis on heliseismology - specifically an analysis of the effect of solar rotation on the background noises from solar surface velocity sources.
    Resident Astronomer, Wilcox Solar Observatory
    Term of employment:    December 1988 - August 1989
    Supervisor:     Dr. Phil Scherrer, Stanford University
    Work accomplished: Responsibilities included daily measurements, data reduction, and maintenance of mechanical and electronic equipment at Wilcox Solar Observatory.


    Refereed Journals:

    S. E. Gibson and Y. Fan Coronal prominence structure and dynamics: A magnetic flux rope interpretation, JGR, doi:10.1029/2006JA011871, 2006.
    S. E. Gibson, D. Foster, J. Burkepile, G. de Toma, A. Stanger, The calm before the storm: The link between quiescent cavities and CMEs, ApJ, 641, 590, 2006.
    Y. Fan and S. E. Gibson, On the nature of the X-ray bright core in a stable filament channel, ApJL, 641, L149, 2006.
    S. E. Gibson and Y. Fan, The partial expulsion of a magnetic flux rope ApJL, 637, L65, 2006.
    S. E. Gibson, Y. Fan, C. Mandrini, G. Fisher, and P. Demoulin, Observational consequences of a magnetic flux rope emerging into the corona, ApJ, 617, 600, 2004.
    Y. Fan and S. E. Gibson, Numerical simulations of 3D coronal magnetic field resulting from the emergence of twisted magnetic flux tubesApJ, 609, 1123, 2004.
    S. Gibson, D. Foster, M. Guhathakurta, T. Holzer, and O. C. St. Cyr,Three-dimensional coronal density structures: Paper 1 - model, JGR, 108, A12, SSH 7-1, CiteID 1444, 2003.
    Y. Fan and S. E. Gibson, Emergence of a magnetic flux rope into a pre-existing coronal arcade, ApJ Letters, 589, L505, 2003.
    E. C. Sittler Jr., L. Ofman, S. Gibson, M. Guhathakurta, J. Davila, R. Skoug, A. Fludra, and T. Holzer, Development of multidimensional MHD model for the solar corona and solar wind, Solar Wind 10, 2003, in press.
    S. E. Gibson, L. Fletcher, D. Alexander, D. A. Biesecker, J. Burkepile, G. Del Zanna, P. Demoulin, C. Mandrini, H. E. Mason, Y. Liu, N. Nitta, C. D. Pike, J. Qiu, Y-K. Ko, B. Schmieder, B. Thompson, Sigmoid structure and evolution:  Results from the third Whole Sun Month campaign ApJ, 574,1021, 2002.
    G. Del Zanna, S. E. Gibson, H. E. Mason, C. D. Pike, and C. H. Mandrini, Sigmoidal diagnostics with SOHO/CDS, Adv. Space Research, in press, 2001.
    L. Strachan, A. Panasyuk, D. Dobrzycka, J. Kohl, G. Noci, S. Gibson, and D. Biesecker, Latitudinal Dependence of Outflow  Velocities from O VI Doppler Dimming Observations during the Whole Sun Month, JGR, 105, 2345, 2000.
    S. E. Gibson and B. C. Low, 3-d and twisted:  An MHD interpretation of on-disk observational characteristics of CMEs, JGR., 105, 18,187, 2000.
    S. E. Gibson, D. Biesecker, M. Guhathakurta, J. T. Hoeksema, A. J. Lazarus, J. Linker, Z. Mikic, Y. Pisanko, P. Riley, J. Steinberg, L. Strachan, A. Szabo, and B. J. Thompson, The Three-Dimensional Coronal Magnetic Field During Whole Sun Month, ApJ, 520, 871, 1999.
    S. E. Gibson, A. Fludra, F. Bagenal, D. Biesecker, G. Del Zanna, B. Bromage,  Solar minimum streamer densities and temperatures using Whole Sun Month coordinated data-sets, JGR, 104, A5, 9691, 1999.
    D. A. Biesecker, B.J. Thompson, S.E. Gibson, D. Alexander, A. Fludra, N. Gopalswamy, J.T. Hoeksema, A. Lecinski, L. Strachan, The synoptic sun during the first Whole Sun Month Campaign: Aug 10 - Sep 8, 1996, JGR, 104, A5, 9679, 1999.
    M. Guhathakurta, A. Fludra, S. E. Gibson, D. Biesecker, and R. Fisher, Physical properties of a coronal hole from a coronal diagnostic spectrometer, Mauna Loa coronagraph, and LASCO observations during the Whole Sun Month , JGR, 104, A5, 9801, 1999.
    J. A. Linker, Z. Mikic, D. A. Biesecker, R. J. Forsyth, S. E. Gibson, A. J. Lazarus, A. Lecinski, P. Riley, A. Szabo, and B. J. Thompson, Magnetohydrodynamic Modeling of the Solar Corona During Whole Sun Month , JGR, 104, A5, 9809, 1999.
    S. E. Gibson and B. C. Low, A Time-dependent three-dimensional magnetohydrodynamic model of the coronal mass ejection, ApJ, 493, 460, 1998.
    S. E. Gibson and P. Charbonneau, Empirical modeling of the solar corona using genetic algorithms,  JGR, 103, 14511, 1998.
    S. E. Gibson, F. Bagenal, and B. C. Low, Current sheets in the solar minimum corona, JGR, 101, 4813, 1996.
    S. E. Gibson and F. Bagenal, Large-scale magnetic field and density distribution in the solar minimum corona, JGR, 100, 198651, 1995.
    S. Gibson, D. Newman, and M. Goldman, Langmuir turbulence and three-wave nonlinear dynamics, Phys. Rev. E, 52, 558, 1995.
    F. Bagenal and S. Gibson, Modeling the large-scale structure of the solar corona, JGR, 96, 17663, 1991.



    Invited Reviews:

    S. E. Gibson, Y. Fan, T. Toeroek, and B. Kliem, The evolving sigmoid: evidence for magnetic flux ropes before, during, and after CMEs SSR, in press, 2006.
    Committee on Solar and Space Physics, Space Studies Board (12 members including S. Gibson), Plasma Physics of the Local Cosmos,Report for the National Academy of Sciences,National Academies Press, study submitted to the Space Studies Board for approval March 2003.
    S. E. Gibson, Global solar wind structure from solar minimum to solar maximum: Sources and evolution , invited review paper for Proc. of the 34th ESLAB symposium, ESA publications (refereed), in press.
    S. E. Gibson and M. S. Miesch, Sun, invited review article for Space Sciences for Students Encyclopedia, Macmillan Reference, USA, in press.



    Selected Conference Proceedings Publications:

    S. E. Gibson, B. C. Low, K. D. Leka, Y. Fan, and L. Fletcher, Magnetic flux ropes: would we know one if we saw one? Proceedings of IAU 188: Magnetic Coupling in the Solar Atmosphere, ESA publications, in press, 2002.
    S. E. Gibson, H. E. Mason, D. Pike, P. R. Young, Searching for Sigmoids in SOHO/CDS in Plasma Dynamics and Diagnostics in the Solar Transition Region and Corona, edited by J.C. Vial and B. Kaldeich-Schurmann, ESA publications, Noordwijk, 331, 1999.
    S. E. Gibson, D. Alexander, D. Biesecker, R. Fisher, M. Guhathakurta, H. Hudson and B. J. Thompson, Modeling CMEs in Three Dimensions Using an Analytic MHD Model, in Solar Wind 9, edited by S. R. Habbal, R. Esser, R. V. Hollweg, and P. A. Iseberg, 645, Woodbury, New York, 1999.
    S. Gibson and P. Scherrer, Supergranule power leakage through an observing mask, in IAU Symp. 181: Sounding solar and stellar interiors (Poster volume, eds. J. Provost & F.-X. Schmider, 1998).
    S. E. Gibson , D. Biesecker, R. Fisher, R. A. Howard, and B. J. Thompson, Fitting a 3-D analytic model of the coronal mass ejection to observations, Proc. of the 31st ESLAB Symposium, ESA SP-415, 111, 1997.
    S. E. Gibson , F. Bagenal, D. Biesecker, M. Guhathakurta, J. T. Hoeksema, and B. J. Thompson, Modeling a simple coronal streamer during Whole Sun Month, Proc. of the Fifth SOHO WORKSHOP, ESA SP-404, 319, 1997.

    Invited Talks

    Invited "In-house" talks

    Coronal mass ejections and sigmoidal structures
  • HAO colloquium, Boulder, May, 2001
  • SOHO Science Club, Greenbelt, MD, February, 2000.
  • Astrophysical Fluids and Nonlinear Patterns seminar, Cambridge, June, 1999.
  • "Chianti" database workshop, Cambridge, May, 1999.
  • Catholic University, Physics Colloquium, Washington DC, November, 1998.
  • SOHO Science Club, Greenbelt, MD, July, 1998.

  • Genetic Algorithms
  • LASP colloquium, NASA GSFC, Greenbelt, MD, December, 1996.
  • HAO colloquium, Boulder, CO, March, 1996.
  • Since May, 1997, I have made 10 contributed oral presentations and 12 poster presentations.

    I am a member of the ATST Science Working Group, and have served as a commitee member on the National Research Council Committee on Solar and Space Physics, the Solar Physics Division Committee, and the International Heliospheric Year committee. I have co-organized three workshops for the Whole Sun Month campaign, served on the scientific program committee and as a session leader for the Solar Wind 9 conference, as oral and poster session chairs at Solar Physics Division annual meetings, and as an editor for the COSPAR-2000 edition of Advances in Space Research.   I have also written an article on the Sun for the encyclopedia Space Science for Students. 

    Relevant Computer Experience

    Teaching Experience and Volunteer Work

    Solar astronomy presentations to grades K-12:
    I have been a presenter at the American Association of University Women's Expanding your Horizonts conference, April, 2004.
    I have given talks on solar physics and astronomy to physics classes at Einstein High school, Silver Springs, MD, February & March, 1997, and at the Montessori school, Mount Dora, FLA, November, 1997.
    Solar Week for Girls:
    I have participated in week long programs for pre- and early-teen girls, with interactive links to classrooms across the U.S. (May and October, 2000, 2001)
    Girl Scout mentoring:
    On several occasions between April 1996 and April 1998, I mentored Girl Scouts, demonstrating my work to them and helping them earn a merit badge.
    Teaching Assistant: University of Colorado, Boulder, Aug. - Dec. 1989:
    As freshman lab T.A., I wrote and presented two lectures per week, and also supervised students' lab-work and graded their final results.
    Tutoring, DeGooyer Services, Stanford, CA, 1986-1989:
    As an undergraduate at Stanford University, I worked as a math and science tutor for the DeGooyer tutoring service.  I tutored 2-3 students on average 3 hours a week each.

    Professional References

    Dr. Fran Bagenal University of Colorado, APS Department
    APS Dept.
    Campus Box 391
    University of Colorado
    Boulder CO 80309-0391
    Telephone: 303-492-2598
    Fax: 303-492-0642
    Dr. Richard Fisher NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
    Code 680
    Greenbelt, MD
    Telephone: (301) 286-8811
    Fax: (301) 286-1617
    Dr. B. C. Low High Altitude Observatory, NCAR
    High Altitude Observatory
    P. O. Box 3000
    Boulder CO 80307-3000
    Telephone (303) 497-1553
    Fax (303) 497-1589
    Dr. H. E. Mason, DAMTP, University of Cambridge
    University of Cambridge
    Silver Street
    Cambridge, CB39EW
    United Kingdom
    Telephone (01223) 337 898
    Fax (01223) 337 917