• Photo by Nicolas J Leclercq on Unsplash
  • Photo by Nicolas Tissot on Unsplash
  • Photo by NASA on Unsplash
  • Photo by USGS on Unsplash

Aeronomic Phenomena : IAGA Division II

Dr. Christoph Jacobi is the Division Chair for Division II: Aeronomic Phenomena. He is a professor of Meteorology at the Institute for Meteorology in the University of Leipzig, Germany. Here, he answers some of our questions about his division.

1) Could you please tell us something about your division? 

Division II is organized in eight working groups, 2 of them jointly with Division III.


2) What are the basic research questions of the IAGA division you head?

Division II aims at improving the understanding of the dynamics, chemistry, energetics and electrodynamics of the atmosphere-ionosphere system as well as the coupling processes and long-term climatological changes by extensive observations, sophisticated data analysis techniques and simulations with whole atmosphere-ionosphere models.


3) Who are your main collaborators within IAGA and outside?

Within IAGA, Division II closely cooperates with Division III, e.g. through joint working groups. There is also some collaboration with ICMA/IAMAS, e.g. through joint symposia. SCOSTEP is an important cooperating international commission. Joint symposia and workshops were organized.


Graphic of the Earth's upper atmosphere. The ionosphere is a plasma layer extending from the middle of the mesosphere that goes upto the magnetosphere. Photo from NASA.

4) What are the past important results of this division?

One important aspect is creating and continuously improving and understanding the scenario of the climatological change of the upper atmosphere and ionosphere by analysing observations as well as sophisticated modelling.


5) What do you think would be the future applications or impacts through this research?

Further development of the scenario of the climatological change of the upper atmosphere and ionosphere and application of our knowledge of this global change to societal impacts (increasing lifetime of space debris dangerous to human space technologies, impact on GNSS signal propagation and its applications in positioning and navigation, etc.). High potential can be seen in prediction of the behaviour from short to long term scales.

PhD User Manual

The internet is filled with questions like “What to do a PhD in?”, “Where to do a PhD from?”, “Is it okay to do a PhD in a field different from my background?”, “What to know before starting a PhD? Asking for a friend.” And many more.

Through my personal experiences and observations, here is a list to help answer some of your “What, Where or How” about doing a doctorate.
(Warning: Though this applies to mostly all fields and places, it tends to be biased towards Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields that are not located in the west part of the Mercator map).


Cliché, I know. But the most important thing about doing a PhD is being interested in the topic. Don’t limit yourself to a narrow field but don’t also just look for everything. Try doing an internship or read articles about scientific questions and see if it interests you enough to want to spend years trying to find an answer to them. And don’t be afraid to explore stuff you aren’t very familiar with.


Not many people know, but the song “I hate you, I love you… Nobody else above you” by Gnash was written for supervisors (Source: self). Topic and supervisors go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other. Helpful and motivating supervisors make your PhD journey smoother. Try to know their expertise and work experience from other students and people they have collaborated with. For legal purposes, I would suggest online stalking ONLY.


Let’s be real – Money is important. PhDs have dual identity. We brag that we “work” till we have to pay. We then immediately shift to being “students” (you know, for the discounts!). So, choosing a place where you can live comfortably is priority. But don’t compromise on the first two points. Also, for some offers, you get a funded position and for others, you need to write a grant. The first option is always easier and fortunately, more available for STEM.


Every researcher’s love. This will entirely depend on the lab you are working in. Some require papers before and/or during your course, while others require none. But, in any case, don’t let it bring you down. You have a plan and everything in place, but then, wohooo, no results good enough to publish. And when you do submit, it takes ages to actually get published. Though it’s important, try not to get worked up about it. This is a worry you and your supervisor collectively tackle.


For you people who are starting their PhDs from a place where you know the language, congratulations, you have successfully skipped this YouTube ad. But if you are starting your PhD in a place where you don’t know the language, it could be a little difficult to adjust initially. Though it will give you an opportunity to learn a new language, but more often than not, it can be annoying. Feel free to curse in your language then.


For all the coders out there, learn to accept messages like “Segmentation fault (core dumped)” as part of coding life. Learn to control the urge to smash the screen when this message appears. Accept it. Embrace it. And then debug the hell out of that missing bracket in the nested loop. It will teach you patience and will make you a better coder. Both plus points for PhD and life!


Last but not the least, try to achieve the work-life balance everybody strives for. Singing while driving is not a distraction, it calms you down. Pursue that hobby you always wanted to but didn’t find the time or encouragement to. This is the best time to make mistakes without pondering on anybody’s judgement. You’ll be spending years on a focused topic, try to ease the tension and relax when you want to. You deserve it. You reached here on your own, and you’ll only fly ahead higher.


Well, it is unknown, irrespective of whether you do a PhD or not. You probably heard that academia is hard and competitive. Yes, it is. You continue if you like it and don’t, if you are done. It is okay either ways. The skills you learnt during your PhD will come handy in jobs outside of academia as well. And that hobby you started during your course will most likely be a part of your life inside and outside of your career.

So, don’t worry, apply, and take that PhD offer. You won’t regret it!

Images: (1) Using canva. (2) Facebook Hacker Girl.

Shivangi Sharan is a second year PhD student at the Laboratory of Planetology and Geodynamics in France. Her research focusses on the study of the magnetic field of Mars and to infer its internal structure from it. She is an active member of the IAGA Blog Team and can be contacted via e-mail here.


Internal Magnetic Fields : IAGA Division I

Dr. Ján Šimkanin, is the Division Chair for IAGA Division I : Internal Magnetic Fields. Here, he answers some of our questions about himself and his division.

1) Could you please tell us something about yourself?

I work at the Institute of Geophysics of the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague, Czech Republic. My research is aimed at the magnetoconvection in the Earth’s core and other planets, numerical modelling of Geodynamo and planetary hydromagnetic dynamos, and cosmic magnetohydrodynamics.

From 2011—2015, I was the Co-Chair of the working group I-1: Theory of Planetary Magnetic Fields and Geomagnetic Secular Variation of Division I – Internal Magnetic Fields of IAGA, and from 2015—2019, I was the Chair of the above mentioned working group. For 2019—2023 I am the Chair of Division I – Internal Magnetic Fields of IAGA.

2) What are the basic research questions of the IAGA division you head?

Division I of IAGA represents a variety of research fields including planetary magnetism, geomagnetism, palaeomagnetism and rock magnetism. Investigations are focused on theory of planetary magnetic fields, measurements from magnetic observatories and satellites, palaeomagnetic and archaeomagnetic records, secular variations, palaeointensities, geomagnetic field reversals, palaeomagnetism, environmental magnetism, biomagnetism and magnetic anisotropy, computational modelling combined with laboratory experiments.

3) Who are your main collaborators within IAGA and outside?

My main collaborators are Co-Chairs of Divisions I, i.e. Dr. Nicolas Gillet from University Grenoble Alpes, Grenoble, Dr. Julie Carlut from IPGP Paris (both from France) and Dr. Qingsong Liu from Department of Marine Science and Engineering, Southern University of Science and Technology, Shenzhen, China.

Internal magnetic field orientation comparison of different planets. (from 2007 Thomson Higher Education)

4) What are the past important results of this division?

— numerical simulations of the geodynamo at extreme parameters

— modelling of rapid field changes 

— geomagnetic data assimilation and inverse problems

— topographic coupling between the core and the mantle

— interdisciplinary approaches that include cooperation among archaeologists, geophysicists, geochemists, and soil scientists

— environmental magnetism applied to investigate past climate, environmental pollution, sediment transport and erosion

5) What do you think would be the future applications or impacts through this research?

—  characterising planetary fields (their existence, possible changes through time) would help understand and constrain the evolution of planets: what are the sources of energy (buoyancy, orbital forcings as tides and precession), with possible impacts on, e.g., atmospheric escape and possible  feed-back on mantle dynamics (e.g., through rheology).

—  understanding of rapid magnetic variations observed on the Earth would validate or not the existence of a stratified layer at the top of the core, with impacts on the CMB heat flux and the Earth's evolution through its history.

—  on the Earth it would also help forecast the current core field evolution, with impacts on space weather and the electro-magnetic environment of satellites.

— overall, planetary magnetic fields are full of mysteries, and understanding them is just beautiful in itself.

— the scope of palaeomagnetism has been extended gradually from traditional tectonic magnetism, variations in palaeomagnetic field and the related Earth's interior processes, to a wide range geological applications, including rock-, environmental-, bio-magnetism, and comparative planetology.

— these interdisciplinary applications can be used to resolve some major scientific questions that the whole human being's society cares, such as, will the polarity of the Earth’s magnetic field reverse in the future? Or is there life on Mars?