When you meet him, Jeffrey Tessein may seem to be an average student at the University of New Hampshire. However, Jeffrey has literally spent more time with his head “above the clouds” than most people, through his research in space physics. Before starting his first year in college, Jeffrey knew that he wanted to explore a career in the field of physics. He was first attracted to UNH because it had the largest physics department in the area, and was fairly close to his hometown of Concord, New Hampshire.
As a first year student, Jeffrey was interested in participating in research. He had heard positive things about it and the opportunities that were available at UNH. Although he had never done research before, he was very curious and motivated to start. In addition, he wanted to make the most out of his first summer as a college student. Jeffrey attended an undergraduate research fair, hosted by the Physics Department. At the fair he received a list of professors that were looking for assistance, and he began to contact them. One of these professors was Charles Smith, who hired Jeffrey despite his lack of experience. Dr. Smith, or Chuck as Jeffrey calls him, was impressed by Jeffrey’s solid academic performance his first year, but also because he had shown the initiative to seek out this opportunity.
Jeffrey started working on a NASA sponsored research project focused on developing a database of solar wind characteristics for use in magnetosphere storm studies. At first, he found that he was mainly doing simple, repetitive things. However, as his programming skills increased, he started taking on more complex tasks and a more prominent role in the study. Jeffrey has continued his involvement in this research throughout his career at UNH. In 2007, Jeffrey presented a poster on his work at UNH’s Undergraduate Research Conference Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Symposium. That summer he also presented his poster at the National Solar Observatory in New Mexico. He enjoyed this experience because it exposed him to many different areas that he had no idea people researched. One of these topics was helioseismology, which is the study of changes in solar waves and gases that can tell scientists more about the conditions inside our sun. In the summer of 2008, Jeffrey will be working on a summer research project focusing on solar flares at the University of Colorado.
In addition to his extensive experience in research, Jeffrey likes to be active outside the classroom and laboratory. Although he is very dedicated to his challenging coursework and academic commitments, Jeffrey found the time to play trombone in the UNH Pep Band. One of his favorite memories of UNH is traveling to Minneapolis, Minnesota to play at the Women’s Frozen Four hockey tournament during his first year. Jeffrey also likes to snowboard, which he has done since he moved from Texas to New Hampshire at age eleven. He enjoys hiking in the White Mountains, and once went eighteen miles in a single day!
In the future, Jeffrey plans to attend graduate school for physics. He would like to continue to contribute to research in space physics, particularly space weather and solar flares. When asked what advice he would give to incoming students, he said “If there’s something you want to do, just do it, even if it seems unreasonable or difficult. Make an effort to accomplish everything you want in life.” Through his talent and determination, Jeffrey has made the most of his time at UNH. He has prepared himself for a future as bright as the solar flares he studies.