Jonah Kisesi wants to be a college professor someday, but first he’d like to work in the aerospace industry and get involved in efforts to help those who are less fortunate in the world. As a PhD student focusing on remote sensing at CU-Boulder, he is taking steps toward all of those goals.
After earning his bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, Jonah is now using the space-based global positioning system (GPS) to identify irregularities in the ionosphere, the portion of the Earth’s upper atmosphere that is ionized by solar radiation.
“GPS occultations allow us to monitor our atmosphere by studying changes in GPS signals as they traverse the atmosphere,” he explains. “Plasma irregularities can interfere with communications passing through that region, and understanding how the ionosphere interacts with space and other layers of our atmosphere can help us better model our climate and forecast changes in both the short and long term.”
Last summer, Jonah’s research took him to Greenland to attend the International Incoherent Scatter Radar Workshop, where he met with other scientists and engineers about using the ground-based sensing technique to inform his research.
He also attended seminars to improve his teaching skills, which he’ll use in the K-12 teaching fellowship he received for the coming year. As a National Science Foundation GK-12 fellow, Jonah will be working to engage fifth graders in the Longmont area in a hands-on, K-12 STEM curricula developed by the college for its engineering outreach to disadvantaged students.
“I recently worked at a fifth-grade camp at Spangler Elementary School where the students got to design, build, and study engineering and how it provides very tangible and direct solutions in all aspects of our lives,” Jonah says.