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Donald Farley

Donald Farley
Donald Farley

The 2010 Hannes Alfvén Medal is awarded to Donald Farley for his pioneering work on the theory of incoherent scattering of radio waves in plasma and the application of incoherent scattering to the study of the ionosphere.

Don Farley studied at Cornell University and received his Ph.D. In Engineering Physics in 1960. He was a Post-doctoral Fellow at Cambridge University, England in 1959-60. From Cambridge he moved to Chalmers Technical University in Sweden, where he obtained the degree of Docent. From 1961 on he was engaged in the Jicamarca incoherent scatter facility in Peru, first as a physicist and from 1964 as Director. He gave up that position in 1967 to become Professor in Electrical Engineering at Cornell University (but still engaged in Jicamarca), where in 1998 he became the J. Preston Levis Professor of Engineering (Emeritus in 2006).

Farley’s Ph.D. thesis (1959) dealt with electrostatic fields in the ionosphere. At Cambridge he worked with J.P. Dougherty and there produced a series of papers dealing with the theory of incoherent scattering of radio waves that started in 1960. Farley was the author (with co-authors) of this long series of theoretical papers on the theory of incoherent scattering, which covered the entire 1960s and part of the 1970s, where the dependences of the scattering process on relevant parameters were worked out. In parallel with this basic plasma physics theory work, he was very active in applying the new technique for studies of the ionosphere. He used the Jicamarca radar, situated at the magnetic equator, for detailed studies of the special plasma physical phenomena in the equatorial ionosphere, among them new plasma instabilities (e.g. the Farley-Buneman instability).

Farley has received several awards, of which may be mentioned in the first hand: US Department of Commerce, Distinguished Authorships Awards in 1963 and, in 1964, URSI’s Appleton Prize (Royal Society, London) and, in 1996, the Gold Medal for Geophysics from the Radio Astronomical Society in 1997.