COSAM News Articles 2020 January SEC Physics and Chemistry Faculty Collaborate on Comet Research

SEC Physics and Chemistry Faculty Collaborate on Comet Research

Published: 01/07/2020

By: Maria Gebhardt

Dr. Donna Pierce, associate professor from the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Mississippi State University, and Dr. Ryan Fortenberry, assistant professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry from Ole Miss, will unite to conduct research with Dr. Dennis Bodewits, associate professor in the Department of Physics in the College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM) at Auburn University.

“We were awarded a 2019-2020 SEC Faculty Program Travel Grant to conduct research here at Auburn,” Dr. Pierce explained. “The research examines the properties of ions in comets, which are molecules that carry an electric charge. These ions make comet tails glow blue.”

Dr. Pierce will be returning for the Fall 2020 semester to conduct research through a sabbatical.

“I am excited to bring two other researchers from SEC universities to conduct research about the chemical properties of comets,” explained Dr. Bodewits. “Even though those ions are found throughout the universe, we know surprisingly little about them. It is great to have the necessary expertise within the SEC!”

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