Kamen Kozarev, Ph.D.


I am an assistant research professor at the Institute of Astronomy of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. Between 2012 and 2016 I was a postdoctoral researcher at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I obtained my Ph.D. in 2012 from Boston University’s Astronomy Department, observing and modeling the acceleration and transport of solar energetic particles in coronal mass ejections. My advisor in graduate school was Prof. Nathan Schwadron. I am from Bulgaria, but I earned my undergraduate degree from Williams College, Massachusetts. There, I did research on solar spicules, and wrote my honors thesis with Jay Pasachoff on that subject. You can find the latest version of my CV HERE.

    My research revolves around the question of how charged particles (mostly protons) become accelerated from coronal plasma energies (10 keV) to almost relativistic energies (100s of MeV) close to the Sun by plasma shock waves driven by coronal mass ejections. Charaterizing the acceleration of these ‘solar energetic particles’, or SEPs, is a very important question in heliospheric and interplanetary physics with far-reaching practical implications, since SEPs can cause serious radiation damage to astronauts and satellite electronics beyond low-Earth orbit.

    My work involves numerical modeling of energetic protons’ transport in the solar corona and inner heliosphere with the EMMREM modeling framework. I also analyze the fantastic multi-wavelength extreme ultraviolet images that the Advanced Imaging Assembly telescope on the Solar Dynamics Observatory NASA spacecraft to study the properties of coronal shocks and relate them to the acceleration of charged particles.

    When I am not busy discovering previously undiscovered things about the Sun, I like to practice photography, play soccer and box, dance Bulgarian folk dances, and hike. I am also involved with several outreach projects, among which the most important are the Space Challenges informal educational program in Sofia, Bulgaria, and the building of the first public digital planetarium in Bulgaria in my hometown of Plovdiv. By the way, come visit Plovdiv – it is one of the most beautiful and oldest cities in the world!