NASA Solar Astrophysicist
W. Dean Pesnell is the project scientist of the Solar Dynamics Observatory. He has published 80 papers in a several research areas, including variable stars, the Sun-Earth connection, quantum mechanics, and meteors in planetary atmospheres.
He received his Ph.D. in 1983 from the University of Florida. After a post-doc at the University of Colorado and a visiting professorship at New Mexico State University, Pesnell came to NASA, Goddard Space Flight Center as a contractor in 1990. He formed Nomad Research, Inc., in 1995 to do independent scientific research. One research contract was to design the “Living with a Star” missions to study the response of the Earth to solar activity. He started work on Solar Dynamics Observatory in 2004 and became the project scientist in 2005. He talks a lot about on solar activity, including the current minimum in solar activity, and enjoys trying to use music to understand the Sun and stars.