Monday, November 22, 2010

Dr. David Choi (Conversations at the DPS, profile 5)


Dr. David Choi (provided photo) - if it weren't for the background, this could be a candid shot. No one smiles as much as he!

Like myself, Dr. David Choi is an atmospheric scientist, after a sort. However, while I look at the atmospheres of Earth, Mars and Titan, David studies Giant Planet atmospheres. The Gas Giants are, of course, essentially all atmosphere, which makes them very different targets from the thin shells that I look at. As David will himself tell you tonight, this gives them a bit of a 'fluid dynamics laboratory' quality which lets us test out our theories of how an atmosphere should fundamentally behave. Thus, David runs computer models and tests the results against spacecraft observations of the flow of the atmosphere, most recently using Cassini Data.

While at the University of Arizona, where he got his PhD, David worked for Dr. Adam Showman. From Adam, Dave got a thorough grounding in geophysics and mathematics (I remember my Principles of Planetary Physics-B well and still shudder at the sheer complexity) and has produced some impressive research. For his accomplishments he was awarded the Kuiper Prize from the Department of Planetary Sciences earlier this year. Since then David has stayed on at LPL as a postdoctoral research associate. As such, despite the connection of all of my interview subjects to LPL, he is the only one whose main affiliation remains at the U of A.

The hard-core computer modelling and observation-interpreting researcher is only one aspect of David's personality. He has also been a stalwart part of the organizational and social sides of the department and graduate student life and a strong believer in outreach. His contributions include working as a reviewer for the community, both for NASA R&A and Icarus, an organizer of journal clubs, and speaking at elementary schools about science and the planets. It's not often that I get to speak to such a well-rounded individual as David and I hope you enjoy listening to what he has to say tonight!

David's Interview, part 5 of our 6-part series, "Conversations at the DPS" runs tonight at 8:00 PM EST on Astronomy.fm's "Live at York U." I will be off again this week, but Paul & company will keep things lively! Next week we will wrap up with Dr. Jonathan Fortney.


(You didn't think I'd forget the obligatory Death Valley, 2006 Shot, did you? Here's Dave passing the time on the road from Death Valley to Racetrack Playa in 2006, as photographed by Catherine Neish. There was some downtime as the result of a vehicular break down (eventually, we were forced to abandon that vehicle, as opposed to my truck, which I simply drove for five miles over rough ground with a shredded tire on that journey!)

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