Personal profile

Research interests

I am a space plasma physics specialist with a keen interest in space weather. In short, this means I am interested in many aspects of Earth's space plasma environment: the magnetosphere, the Radiation Belts, substorms and more! Right now, I use my knowledge of kinetic space plasma physics, numerical modelling, and stochastic processes to consider the physics of Earth's outer radiation belt. This is a golden age of space plasma physics observations and I am excited to use the enormous NASA Van Allen Probes data sets to discover more about space weather for satellites.

I lead a small team who use numerical modelling, machine learning, and more traditional data analysis techniques to probe the mysteries of the high-energy environment in Earth's outer radiation belt. Please see Publications Page for latest publications.


Prof Clare Watt is a space plasma physicist who specializes in space weather at Earth. She leads projects to study the physics of Earth’s radiation belts through numerical simulation, analysis of spacecraft observations and theory.

She graduated with a PhD in space plasma physics from St Catharine’s College, Cambridge in 2002, during which time she created a new plasma simulation model at the British Antarctic Survey. Her work then took her to University of Alberta in Canada, where she created numerical models of acceleration of auroral electrons in polar regions. Clare’s focus is kinetic plasma physics as applied to space plasma environments. Largely this takes the form of wave-particle interactions, where charged particles in the collisionless environment of space interact with electromagnetic waves. This can result in energisation or scattering, and can be used to explain auroral processes, energisation of Earth’s radiation belts and even potentially the trigger for the explosive energy release in a magnetospheric substorm.

She has led large STFC Consolidated Grants (2015-2020) to study solar system physics, and is currently part of two large space weather consortia: Rad-Sat (2017-2021) which makes improvements to the modelling of acceleration, transport and loss of radiation belt electrons to protect satellites from space weather, and Sat-Risk (2020-2023) whose goal is to develop a real-time system to forecast radiation exposure to satellites for a range of different orbits, and quantify the risk of damage or degradation.

She currently serves on advisory groups for national and international space agencies, including the Human and Robotic Exploration Directorate of the European Space Agency, and the UK Space Agency. From 2017-2020 she was a Councillor and Trustee of the Royal Astronomical Society, and has served on the Science and Technology Facilities Council Astronomy Grants Panel.

Education/Academic qualification

Physics, PhD, Wave-particle interactions and anomalous resistivity in collisionless space plasmas, University of Cambridge

1 Oct 199823 Dec 2001

Award Date: 2 Jun 2002

Mathematical Physics, BSc (Hons), 1st Class Honours degree in Mathematics-Physics, University of Aberdeen

20 Sept 199410 Jun 1998

Award Date: 15 Jul 1998


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