Physics Profile: Ian Cohen

Ian Cohen

Ian Cohen. Full-time physicist. Part-time troubadour.

The Physics and Astronomy sophomore works in the BU Center for Space Physics where he studies cosmic rays and their interaction with Earth’s magnetic field and their correlations with coronal mass ejections (CMEs) from the Sun. The goal of Ian’s work, under Professor Harlan Spence, is to identify similarities between cosmic rays and the solar particles that shoot at Earth.

Cosmic rays are strong sources of radiation believed to originate during supernovas and are constantly bombarding Earth. By comparing the effects of impact of energized particles from solar storms like CMEs on the magnetosphere to the impact by cosmic rays, Ian hopes to learn more about the nature of cosmic rays. He is also working with the CRaTER instrument, which will measure cosmic ray data on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. That instrument could tell us more about how cosmic rays might affect humans in space.

Perhaps what inspires Ian’s love of space physics is his longtime fandom of “Star Wars.” In fact, he spends a good deal of time doing things space-related: He is well-acquainted with his own telescope and he works at the Charles Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Science.

He also has great adoration for the arts. He draws, sculpts, sings, dances, acts and is a very active member of the BU Stage Troupe. You may have spotted him in such shows as “The Graduate,” “Rumors” and “The Real Inspector Hound.” He has also appeared on a public-access TV show in New Jersey. And when it comes to film, he says nothing beats “Forrest Gump.”

Though he’s artistic, he’s also athletic. Ian lettered in football in high school, and watches a lot of college football. And Ian has a sports secret he might be advised to keep to himself in these parts – he’s a Yankees fan.