Chris Colpitts

Chris Colpitts

Christopher "Chris" Colpitts

Senior Researcher, School of Physics and Astronomy


John T. Tate Hall
Room 201-10
116 Church Street Se
Minneapolis, MN 55455


Space Physics
Van Allen Probes Electric Field and Waves (EFW) Instrument Team
International Space Science Institute Radiation Belt Team


Ph.D., Dartmouth College, 2009 
B.A., University of Montana, 2002 

Professional Background

Post-Doctoral Research Assistant, University of Minnesota, 2010-present
Graduate Research Assistant, Dartmouth College, 2002-2009

Scientific & Professional Societies

American Geophysical UnionAsia Oceania Geosciences Society
Research Interests

I am currently researching plasma waves in the Earth’s magnetosphere using satellite data from FAST, THEMIS, and Van Allen Probes, among other satellites. I have most recently been investigating the connection between Magnerospheric Chorus waves and relativistic electron microburst precipitation. Other recent work involved banded waves and ions which occur during the strongest geomagnetic storms. My PhD work, “Mode Identification and Dispersed Features of Auroral HF Waves Observed with Sounding Rockets”, focused on using rockets to find new auroral wave features and attempting to constrain their modes and determine their generation mechanisms using basic plasma physics theory. This research combines instrumentation, data collection, data analysis, and modeling, as well as the integration of electronics into sounding rocket campaigns, and participating in the launches of the spacecraft.

Honors and Awards

NASA Space Grant Award, May 2007

IUGG General Assembly Student Travel Grant, June 2007

Convener and Chair of Several AGU, AOGS, and other Conference Oral Sessions

Selected Publications

Colpitts, C. A., C. A. Cattell, M. Engebretson, M. Broughton, S. Tian, J. Wygant, A. Breneman, and S. Thaller (2016), Van Allen Probes Observations of Cross-Scale Coupling Between Electromagnetic Ion Cyclotron Waves and Higher Frequency Wave modes. Geophysical Research Letters, 43, 11,510– 11,518. Colpitts, C. A., C. A. Cattell, J. U. Kozyra, M. F. Thomsen, and B. Lavraud (2016), Satellite observations of energy-banded ions during large geomagnetic storms: Event studies, statistics, and comparisons to source models, J. Geophys. Res. Space Physics, 121, 6353–6377, doi:10.1002/2016JA022481. Colpitts, C. A. (2015), Investigations of the Many Distinct Types of Auroras, in Auroral Dynamics and Space Weather (eds Y. Zhang and L. J. Paxton), John Wiley & Sons, Inc, Hoboken, NJ. doi: 10.1002/9781118978719.ch1 Colpitts, C. A., S. Hakimi, C. A. Cattell, J. Dombeck, and M. Mass (2013), Simultaneous ground and satellite observations of discrete auroral arcs, substorm aurora and Alfvénic aurora with FAST and THEMIS GBO, J. Geophys. Res., 118, 6998–7010, doi:10.1002/2013JA018796.

Colpitts, C. A., C. A. Cattell, J. U. Kozyra, and M. Parrot (2012), Satellite observations of banded VLF emissions in conjunction with energy-banded ions during very large geomagnetic storms, J. Geophys. Res., 117, A10211, doi:10.1029/2011JA017329.

Colpitts, C. A., J. LaBelle, C. A. Kletzing, and P. H. Yoon (2010), Further sounding rocket observations of structured whistler mode auroral emissions, J. Geophys. Res., 115, A10243, doi:10.1029/2009JA015095.

Colpitts, C., M. Samara, J. W. LaBelle, and P. Yoon (2009). Rocket Observations of Two Distinct Types of Dispersed Features of Auroral HF Waves, J. Geophys. Res., 114, A05202, doi:10.1029/2008JA013741

Colpitts, C., and J. W. LaBelle (2007). Mode Identification of Whistler Modes, Z-Modes, and Langmuir/Upper Hybrid Modes Observed in an Auroral Sounding Rocket Experiment. J. Geophys. Res., 113, A04306, doi:10.1029/2007JA012325.

Preferred Pronouns: He/Him/His