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Suggested Citation:"RECOMMENDATIONS." National Research Council. 1995. Plasma Science: From Fundamental Research to Technological Applications. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4936.
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Page 180
Suggested Citation:"RECOMMENDATIONS." National Research Council. 1995. Plasma Science: From Fundamental Research to Technological Applications. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4936.
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Page 181
Suggested Citation:"RECOMMENDATIONS." National Research Council. 1995. Plasma Science: From Fundamental Research to Technological Applications. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4936.
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Page 182

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EDUCATION IN PLASMA SCIENCE 180 stellar atmospheres and radiative transfer, interstellar medium, and galaxies and cosmology. At many universities, no courses in plasma physics are taught in the physics or astrophysics departments, and although plasma courses may be given in an engineering or applied science department, these often have too technological an orientation to attract astrophysics students. Depending on the inclination of the instructor, some plasma physics may be integrated into one or more of the astrophysics courses. However, very few astrophysics students receive much formal exposure to plasma physics and many astrophysicists view it as an arcane specialty. Nevertheless, many astrophysicists might like to learn more plasma physics when motivated to do so by developments in their subject. For example, recent measurements of magnetic field strengths in dense, star-forming interstellar clouds have shown that the fields are large enough to strongly affect or even dominate the dynamics. This has spawned a real interest in MHD among interstellar medium researchers, and a number of people who ignored magnetic fields throughout most of their careers are now writing papers on them. Such people would benefit from a good, modern text on plasma physics, stressing astrophysically interesting applications and using astrophysically relevant parameters and boundary conditions. Such a book could consist of chapters contributed by experts, provided that a good editor and refereeing system kept the quality high, and could also be used for a graduate course or seminar. RECOMMENDATIONS There is an increasing emphasis on industry-university partnerships, with industry moving toward greater reliance on university research. Therefore, not only is the health of university plasma science important to the academic plasma community, but it is also important for industry to have a vibrant plasma effort in universities. The panel recommends the following steps to improve education in plasma science: • Both industry and academic members of the plasma community should use this report to support proposals to establish tenure-track positions in plasma science. Obtaining such positions will increase the likelihood of better scientists remaining in the plasma science field, and will attract higher-quality graduate students. Particular emphasis should be placed on establishing positions in physics departments. • Industry and academic members of the plasma community should work with faculty and administrators to provide a course in basic plasma physics at the undergraduate senior level. This would be valuable for students going on into plasmas, fusion, astrophysics, electronics, and so on. • To better prepare scientists and engineers for the many areas in which

EDUCATION IN PLASMA SCIENCE 181 plasma science is important, as demonstrated in this report, plasma researchers and teachers should develop (1) texts on plasma physics focused on other disciplines (e.g., astrophysics); (2) texts specifically suited for plasma subfields (e.g., low-temperature plasmas, plasma chemistry, and plasma processing); (3) chapters on plasma science for texts in other disciplines to develop "plasma literacy" in non-plasma scientists and engineers; and (4) undergraduate, senior-level texts in plasma science.

EDUCATION IN PLASMA SCIENCE 182

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Plasma science is the study of ionized states of matter. This book discusses the field's potential contributions to society and recommends actions that would optimize those contributions. It includes an assessment of the field's scientific and technological status as well as a discussion of broad themes such as fundamental plasma experiments, theoretical and computational plasma research, and plasma science education.

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