Jeff Langlois Lapierre
New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Socorro, New Mexico, USA -- December 2015
Ph.D. in Physics with Dissertation in Atmospheric Physics and Instrumentation
Ph.D. Thesis: On the Relationship Between In-Cloud Lightning Growth and Continuing Current
Bishop's University, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada -- May 2008
B.S. (Hons), Physics with Minor in Mathematics
Honors Thesis: On Using EBM Models to Predict the Surface Temperature of the Earth Over Billions of Years
Cegep de la Gaspesie et des Iles, Gaspe, Quebec, Canada -- May 2005
Pre-University Diploma in Natural Science
My academic career began at Bishop's University in Quebec, Canada, where I completed a BS in Physics. I then moved to New Mexico Tech, in New Mexico, USA, where I earned my PhD in Physics with a dissertation in Atmospheric Physics and Instrumentation. While at NMT, I probed the mysteries of lightning using multiple instruments that measure radio waves in various ways. Included in those instruments was the Langmuir Electric Field Array (LEFA), which I spent much of my time developing, testing, and maintaining. LEFA is a multi station array of electric field change sensors that are effective a measuring moving charge, which makes it effective at studying charge motion during various lightning events. My research focused on a phenomenon that occurs during cloud-to-ground lightning, called continuing current, which is the primary cause of lightning's destructive effects such as forest and structural fires and electrical damage. Using a novel approach I developed, I was able to observe whether continuing current was correlated with increased growth-rates of the in-cloud section of the lightning channel. The growth of these in-cloud channels were hypothesized to be the main source of charge for continuing current, but had not been directly observed up until now.
During my postdoc, I will use my knowledge of lightning to study its production NOx (NO+NO2), an important precursor to the greenhouse gas, ozone. Understanding this source of NOx is especially critical since it is produced in the upper troposphere, where it is longer lived than in the boundary layer. Lightning production of NOx is still poorly constrained, which affects the effectiveness climate models. My goal is to better understand the correlation between certain types of lightning with the amount of NOx produced so that we can better constrain the production rate of NOx per flash. I will also be working on outfitting a vehicle with instruments that will measure various greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, ozone, and methane. The goal for this project is to develop a mobile instrument that can be easily mounted to a vehicle for use in areas where greenhouse gas measurements are sparse, such as rapidly growing cities in developing countries, so that we can better understand their production.