The Benedum Distinguished Scholars Awards, funded by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, are awarded annually to faculty engaged in “creative research” in as many as four categories: behavioral and social sciences, biosciences and health sciences, humanities and the arts, and physical sciences and technology.
Tu is honored as the 2022-23 Benedum Distinguished Scholar in Physical Science and Technologies. She is recognized nationally and internationally for her creative development of new and comprehensive models of radiation belt particle dynamics. As a space physicist, Tu has focused on understanding, modeling and predicting the dynamics of energetic “killer” electrons in the Earth’s radiation belts.
Tu created the first three-dimensional diffusion model that reproduces the strong enhancement of outer belt electrons during a geomagnetic storm. The model is the first of its kind to incorporate real-time information on the physical processes and thus accurately model the radiation belt enhancement. In addition, Tu has developed the first model to account for radiation belt dropouts and newly discovered loss processes due to anomalous geometrics of Earth’s magnetic fields. Understanding these electrons and processes are crucial in reducing the hazardous radiative environment within which spacecrafts and communication satellites currently operate.
Tu has been recognized with a National Science Foundation Career Award — the most prestigious NSF award for early-career faculty, a Cottrell Scholar Award and the Katherine E. Weimer Award from the American Physical Society Division of Plasma Physics. She has secured $5.37 million of funding and authored 25 publications in the past seven years. Tu has also given 32 invited talks and seminars at various international conferences and institutes.
In addition, she created a space science learning module in collaboration with the West Virginia Science Public Outreach Team, and it has been disseminated statewide to increase space science knowledge and interest among Appalachian middle school students.
Each Benedum Distinguished Scholar will receive a $5,000 professional
development honorarium. The Scholars will be recognized during a
faculty and staff awards reception at Blaney House on April 26 and will
be featured in next year’s Benedum Distinguished Scholars Showcase.
Read about all of this year's Benedum Distinguished Scholars.