Robert S. Hyer Research Award

Fall 2012 Recipients

Graduate Level

Yanshi HuangYanshi Huang and Dr. Yue Deng of UT-Arlington were awarded the 2012 graduate Robert S.Hyer Research Award. They investigated the variations of energy sources of Earth’s upper atmosphere and their influences on the coupled thermosphere-ionosphere system using various data and models. For example, the cause of the surprisingly large difference in thermospheric density between thesolar minima of 1996 and 2008 has been studied. Huang and Deng discovered that the reduction of geomagnetic energy deposited into the thermosphere was comparable to that of the solar EUV radiation between 1996 and 2008, and the lower level of geomagnetic energy deposition including Joule heating and auroral particle precipitation played an important role resulting inanomalously low density in 2008. Different models were utilized to estimate the EUV and geomagnetic energy inputs over 15 years. The simulations indicate that the solar irradiance and geomagnetic energy contributed 3/4 and 1/4 of theneutral density reduction in 2008, respectively. In addition, the wavelength dependence of soar irradiance enhancement in flares and its influence on the upper atmosphere have been studied. The energy transfer processes into the upper atmosphere associated with high-speedsolar wind stream and the altitudinal distribution of Joule heating have been investigated as well.

Dr. Yue DengYanshi joined UT-Arlington in 2009 as a graduate student after getting her Master’sdegree in Atmospheric and Space Science at University of Michigan. During her Ph.D. study at UT-Arlington, she was honored the Michael and Wanda Ray Fellowship in 2009, the Outstanding Physics Major award at UTA and the second place Ionosphere-Thermosphere student poster competition in the CEDAR conference in 2011.

Dr.Deng is a young assistant professor who joined UT-Arlington in 2009 after finishing Postdoctoral work at the NCAR and NOAA. Her research interest includes magnetosphere and ionosphere coupling and space weather modeling. She has been awarded the NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award for 2010-2015 and her current research is also supported by Air Force and NASA. More information on Yanshi's and Dr. Deng's work can be found in the publications listed below.


  1. Deng,Y., Y. Huang, S. C. Solomon, L. Qian, D. J. Knipp, D. R. Weimer, and J.-S. Wang(2012), Anomalously low geomagnetic energy inputs during 2008 solar minimum, J.Geophys. Res., doi:10.1029/2012JA018039.
  2. Huang,Y., A. D. Richmond, Y. Deng, and R. G. Roble (2012), Height distribution ofJoule heating and its influence on the thermosphere, J. Geophys. Res.,doi:10.1029/2012JA017885.
  3. Huang,Y., Y. Deng, J. Lei, A. Ridley, R. E.Lopez, R.C. Allen, and B.M. Butler (2012), Comparison of joule heatingassociated with high-speed solar wind between different models andobservations. Journal of Atmospheric andSolar-Terrestrial Physics, Volumes 75–76, Feb 2012, Pages 5-14, ISSN1364-6826,10.1016/j.jastp.2011.05.013.
  4. Deng, Y., Y. Huang, J. Lei, A. J. Ridley, R.Lopez, and J. Thayer (2011), Energy input into the upper atmosphere associated with high-speed solar wind streams in 2005, J. Geophys. Res., 116,A05303, doi:10.1029/2010JA016201.

Undergraduate Level

Landon BanisterThe 2012 Hyer Award for Undergraduate Research was presented at the annual fall meeting to Landon Banister and his advisor, Professor Stephen J. Sekula of Southern Methodist University. As a freshman and sophmore, Landon worked on a research project, searching for dark scalars with the BaBar Detector, with Professor Stephen Sekula. He presented his work at spring 2011-TSAPS meeting at Stephen F. Austin State University [1] as well as at the Babar Collaboration Physics Jamboree at the University of Cincinnati [2]. The BaBar collaboration consists of over 300 particle physicists from all over the world. The collaboration is primarily composed of personnel at the graduate student level or above. Landon's project addresses one of the most puzzling questions in physics today - what are the constituents of dark matter. Approximately 85% of the matter in the universe is in an invisible form of matter that has not yet been directly detected. Landon and Steve used the BaBar detector to look for the decay of a B meson into a pair of "Dark Scalars". This process is predicted in dark matter models which suggest that rather than one singular dark matter constituent, a flush and complex "dark sector" of particles exists which could interact with ordinary matter. [3]. Outside the lab, Landon is active as the vice president of the SMU Chapter Pi Tau Sigma Mechanical Engineering Honor Society.

Professor Stephen SekulaDr. Sekula is an assistant professor at SMU. He is conducting cutting edge research in high energy physics working at the energy (Atlas experiment) and intensity frontier (BaBar experiment) [4]. He is also a very good educator and received the SMU golden Mustangs award for his consistently excellent teaching performance.


  1. Landon B. Banister, “Search for dark matter using 4-Lepton decays of B mesons”, poster presentation 2011-TSAPS spring meeting, Stephen F. Austin State University, March 3-5 2011.
  2. Landon B. Banister, “The search for dark scalars in B à 4l(+X)”, oral presentation Babar collaboration physics jamboree at the University of Cincinnati, April 23-25, 2010.
  4. B. Aubert, et al, Phys Rev. Lett. 103 152801 (2009).

Past Recipients 

2019 2014 2010
2018 2013 2009
2017 2012 2008
2015 2011 2007

The nature of the Hyer Awards was changed in 2021.