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  • Position: Professor, Head of Department of Physcis, University of Otago.
    Field: Space physics

    Craig developed a fascination for space science from a very early age. He remembers watching TV news reports on the exploration of the Solar System and the launching of humans into Earth orbit. Reading science fiction books and delighting in both the science and the imaginative situations described in the stories further fuelled his fascination.

    Rights: The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato

    Professor Craig Rodger

    Craig Rodger is a Professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Otago. His field of interest and research is in space physics and atmospheric electricity.

    In his final years of secondary education at Onslow College in Wellington, Craig elected to study physics and came under the inspirational tutelage of John Hannah. This led Craig to take up undergraduate studies, majoring in physics, at the University of Otago. In his second year, he found the doors marked ‘Space Physics’, and this opened up a career path for him.

    Passion for space physics

    In this video Craig Rodger describes how, as a young boy, he developed a passion for space exploration and travel by watching TV coverage of the Voyager and space shuttle missions.

    After completing a BSc (Hons) and PhD in physics while working in the Space Physics group, Craig took up a New Zealand Science and Technology Postdoctoral Fellowship to work at the British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, UK. He returned to New Zealand to work on a New Zealand Marsden Fund postdoctorate in 2000 and joined the staff of the University of Otago in late 2001. In 2011, when he received a University of Otago Excellence in Teaching Award, he noted that his interest in physics came from his inspirational high school teacher.

    Work highlights

    Professor Craig Rodger, head of the Space Physics group at the University of Otago, identifies the two main highlights that keep him enthused and passionate about his work.

    There are two main things that I get out of my work – trying to understand something that other people don’t know and interacting with really clever people from all over the world.

    Craig Rodger

    Craig’s main research interests are in lightning detection systems and the impact explosive events occurring in the upper regions of the Sun, such as CMEs, have on the space around the Earth. These fields allow him to work on challenging problems that allow for collaboration with physicists from all over the world. For example, he has radio receivers located in Antarctica and Canada, travels to Washington DC to take part in NASA reviewing panels and is the Royal Society of New Zealand representative to the Scientific Committee on Solar Terrestrial Physics (SCOSTEP) and the International Association of Geomagnetism and Aeronomy (IAGA), both international bodies.

    Careers in space physics

    In this video, Craig Rodger admits that there is not a huge demand for people like him. However, by studying space physics, he believes that a set of flexible and transferable skills is developed.

    In his spare time, Craig still reads science fiction.

    Useful link

    See Craig's profile on the University of Otago website for more information on his research interests, publications and more.

    Find out more about the Otago Space Physics research group – they study the nature of the upper atmosphere and near-Earth space.

    This article is based on information current in 2014 and updated in 2018.

      Published 29 April 2014, Updated 11 July 2018 Referencing Hub articles
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