Professor Patricia H. Reiff is a Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and Director of the Rice Space Institute at Rice University. Her research focuses on space plasma physics, mostly in the area of magnetospheric physics: "space weather". Her research includes study of the aurora borealis, solar wind-magnetosphere coupling (including solar wind control of magnetospheric and ionospheric convection), and magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling. She was a Co-I on the "IMAGE" magnetospheric imaging mission (launched March, 2000), Jim Burch, SWRI, P.I. She was the first person to prove, using Dynamics Explorer dual spacecraft data, that the aurora is caused by a mid-altitude electric field, and to propose radio sounding of the magnetosphere, which that spacecraft included as a key instrument. She is a Co-Investigator on the "Peace" plasma instrument on the ESA "Cluster 2" 4-spacecraft suite which were launched in July and August 2000. She is a Co-Investigator for science and EPO on the "Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission" which is under construction, scheduled to launch in October 2014. She is instrumental in bringing real-time space weather forecasts and "Space Weather" information to the public.
She is PI for a major project which has developed an off-ramp for the information highway by "Creating the Public Connection" , bringing real-time earth and space science data to museums and schools (originally sponsored by NASA's Digital Library Technology Program). Over three million people have interacted with her exhibits and planetarium shows at the Houston Museum of Natural Science and other museums, and another two million with her web sites. Over 250,000 of her educational CD-Roms and planetarium videos have been distributed through her spinoff company spaceupdate.com. She has also been a leader in public education activities, including being director for four years for teacher education projects sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the Eisenhower Foundation, in collaboration with Dr. Carolyn Sumners of the Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS). Their latest collaboration is the creation and marketing of "Discovery Domes", portable digital theaters to teach earth and space science, with over 160 installations in 33 countries and 3 states. She has guided many scientific tours, including total solar eclipse trips to Canada in 1979, Louisiana (annular), Mexico in 1991, Peru in 1994, the Caribbean in 1998, the Black Sea in 1999, Madagascar in 2001, Libya in 2006, China in 2008 and 2009, Tahiti in 2010, annular in May 2012, and Australia in November 2012, with an upcoming transatlantic eclipse cruise in 2013.
She is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union , where she serves on the SPA Public Education Committee. In 2009, she received the AGU "Athelstan Spilhaus Award" for service in public education. She is the Rice University representative and former Chair of the Council of Institutions of the USRA - the Universities Space Research Association. She has served on advisory committees for NASA, NSF, NCAR, Los Alamos National Laboratory, NAS/NRC and AAU.She tweets at "@discoverydome" and "@PatReiff"and has an outreach Facebook persona "Discovery Dome".
Her MMS Mascot "Trigger" has his own web page, his own "Trigger MMS" Facebook page, and twitter feed "@TriggerMMS"
The Reiff/Hill clan is an "all Rice" family with 8 Rice degrees among the crew (Tom has 3, Pat has 2 and the kids each one).
Her better (or at least less disorganized) half is Prof. Thomas W. Hill (BA '67, MS '71, PhD '73).
Our three children, Andrea (Palermo), Adam, and Amelia (Mel) Hill, are all recent Rice alumni. Ame/Mel (BA 2009), the artist, has her own "rowdyferret" freelance art and web design company, having taught art and web design at Chavez High School (Houston) and is presently on leave writing a book "the Gender book" under a grant. Adam, who graduated with a Mechanical Engineering degree in 2009, teaches math and science at YES Prep school Houston. Andrea (Psychology, 2008) is the CFO and Secretary of Reiff's planetarium company, e-Planetarium. Her husband Zaniel Palermo works for Space Services, Inc., a Houston space company.
Want more information? Jump to:
Official Physics and Astronomy page, with publications, presentations, etc.
Rice Space Institute home page
Software and show sales site
Portable planetarium company
Pdf of her mother's book on Breastfeeding "Bottles or Bust"
"Is Science the Salvation of Society?" (address to National Honor Society meeting, Houston, November 9, 1997)
Questions and Answers from that talk
"Three Heavens - Our Home" Essay (a chapter in the book "Professors Who Believe" published by IVP - ISBN 0-8308-1599-6)
Christmas Card 1996 (family photos, etc. - warning- it's big!)
Christmas Card 1995
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Last Update: December, 2012