Christine Gabrielse
Assistant Researcher
2713 Geology


After many minutes of deep introspection in order to write this "About Me" section, I have found the one word which best describes me: Explorer. Perhaps a bit cliché for a scientist, as really that is an adjective that should describe each of us, but I think the word is at the heart of all I do. When I was little, I always wanted to seek out other (roundabout) ways of getting home from school, as once I had experienced one area of the park it was no longer as interesting to me... But with my sisters as compatriots, imagination helped transform even our well-known playground jaunts into wild escapades. One of my favorite travel adventures was to the arctic island of Svalbard, which is sparsely populated and felt like a true frontier in which one isn't coddled by society, but has to work with man and nature respectfully. When it came time to apply to colleges and to decide on a career path, the decision was initially difficult as there was so much that interested me. The underlying question I asked, however, was, "Will this career allow me to help further mankind?" Most areas seemed well-traversed, and I felt that my additional voice would be lost in the fray. I was therefore drawn to outer space, famously known as "the final frontier" (okay, I'm sure my interest in science fiction passed down from my parents had something to do with it). This final frontier seemed like an area totally unexplored, thus the bait drew the explorer in.

Since leaving my small-town Wisconsin home to study in Florida and now in Los Angeles, I have been blessed with experiencing many climates and cultures. I'm thankful to be exploring the adventures of marriage with my best friend, an awesome guy who grew up literally halfway around the world from me in the country of Singapore. Even this area of my life has helped show me that in many things, one can usually find beautiful differences along with surprising similarities. In physics, this concept was recently underscored when I attended a comparative conference on magnetotails. It was amazing to learn that some of the questions we ask at Earth are the same as those we ask at other planets, while other questions are strikingly different. All this goes to show that there is much left in the world for me to explore, and I am very excited to be on this journey!


Since starting graduate school, I have had the opportunity to work on several interesting research projects. They all heavily involve THEMIS data and software as well as the use of IDL. In consecutive order, they are summarized as follows:

  • Propagation characteristics of "flapping waves" in the neutral sheet during a small storm: Correlated flapping waves to bursty bulk flows and Pi2 waves, utilizing THEMIS and multi-spacecraft analysis tools from Analysis Methods for Multi-Spacecraft Data [C. C. Harvey, 1998]. This resulted in publication.
  • Timing and localization of near-Earth tail and ionospheric signatures during a substorm onset: Utilized the THEMIS downtail configuration to analyze signatures of a substorm such as fast flows, dipolarizations, electric fields, ground signatures (all-sky-imager-observed auroral brightening, magnetometer data, AE index) etc. to determine the timing of typical substorm phenomena. Findings supported an outside-in model of substorm onset. This addressed the main goal of the THEMIS mission and resulted in publication.
  • Building tools for mapping along field lines before and/or after a substorm: Utilized DMSP data to locate the isotropic boundary in the ionosphere in case studies and attempted to locate/map the isotropic boundary in the tail by matching flux distributions between DMSP and THEMIS, and by utilizing M. Kubushkina's AM02 modeling of the magnetic field lines (based off altering solar wind input parameters to match the Tsyganenko 96 model to THEMIS observations). Goal was to compare isotropic boundary location in the ionosphere to the pre-onset arc, then by mapping the IB to the tail gain insight on the pre-onset arc's location in the tail.
  • Substorm Parameter Table Lead: An international effort to compile a table of timings and values of substorm phenomena. Presented updates within the community which fueled much discussion. This resulted in a publication by Liu et al.
  • The effects of transient, localized electric fields on equatorial electron acceleration and transport toward the inner magnetosphere: This is my thesis topic. I utilize particle guiding-center-motion to trace electron trajectories under the influence of electromagnetic fields related to fast flows and nominal background electromagnetic fields to determine the source of their acceleration and transport in the magnetotail towards the inner magnetosphere. This is pertinent to understanding potential source populations for the outer radiation belt and ring current. This has resulted in publication.
  • Injection statistics: Also for my thesis, I am studying THEMIS-observed injections statistically.
So for the visiting student or member of the public, I would say that my thesis is to study the transport process by which Earth's radiation belts and ring current can be populated with particles. This is important for us all practically speaking, as this "seed population" may be energized to dangerous levels that can harm our satellites and humans in near-Earth space. Energetic particles may disrupt satellite communication systems such as those your cell phone relies on, or the GPS network that so many of us rely on to know how to get from one place to another (not to mention all the military projects that depend on them!) My studies will help us to understand how these particles get there in the first place, which will help us better prepare for these dangerous events in the future.


  • Escaping to nature
  • Outdoor adventuring
  • Hiking (especially in the mountains!)
  • Sports: snowboarding, volleyball, softball
  • Traveling
  • Teaching/Conveying information to others
  • Acting
  • Music (clarinet, piano, singing): Though I was much more active prior to college
  • Reading (especially on the bus): Favorite author is C. S. Lewis
  • Leading a Bible study with my husband
  • Hanging out with friends
  • Beaching
  • Tree climbing
  • "Sky-gazing": stars, aurora, and awesome clouds!

Selected Publications

Gabrielse, C., V. Angelopoulos, A. Runov, and D. L. Turner (2014), Statistical characteristics of particle injections throughout the equatorial magnetotail, J. Geophys. Res. Space Physics, 119, doi:10.1002/2013JA019638.

Gabrielse, C., V. Angelopoulos, A. Runov, and D. L. Turner (2012), The effects of transient, localized electric fields on equatorial electron acceleration and transport toward the inner magnetosphere, J. Geophys. Res., 117, A10213, doi:10.1029/2012JA017873

Gabrielse, C., et al., Timing and localization of near-Earth tail and ionospheric signatures during a substorm onset, J. Geophys. Res., 114, A00C13, doi:10.1029/2008JA013583, 2009

Gabrielse, C., V. Angelopoulos, A. Runov, L. Kepko, K.-H. Glassmeier, U. Auster, J. McFadden, C. Carlson, and D. Larson, Propagation characteristics of plasma sheet oscillations during a small storm, Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, L17S13, doi:10.1029/2008GL033664, 2008

Liu, J., C. Gabrielse, V. Angelopoulos, N. A. Frissell, L.R. Lyons, J. P. McFadden, J. Bonnell, and K.H. Glassmeier, Superposed epoch analysis of magnetotail flux transport during substorms observed by THEMIS, J. Geophys. Res., 116, A00I29, doi:10.1029/2010JA015886, 2011

Runov, A., V. Angelopoulos, C. Gabrielse, X.-Z. Zhou, D. Turner, F. Plaschke, Electron fluxes and pitch-angle distributions at dipolarization fronts: THEMIS multi-point observations, J. Geophys. Res., doi: 10.1002/jgra.50121, 2013