HamSCI Workshop 2020: The Auroral Connection

HamSCI 2020 Workshop Logo

March 20-21, 2020
The University of Scranton, Scranton, PA

Come join HamSCI at its third annual workshop! The workshop will be held March 20-21, 2020 at The University of Scranton in Scranton, PA and seeks to bring together the amateur radio community and professional scientists. The theme of the 2020 HamSCI Workshop is "The Auroral Connection: How does the aurora affect amateur radio, and what can we learn about the aurora from radio techniques?" Invited speakers include Dr. Elizabeth MacDonald, NASA Scientist and founder of Aurorasaurus, Dr. James LaBelle, Dartmouth Space Scientist and expert on radio aurora, and Dan Hallidy K2DH, an expert in ham radio auroral communication.

This workshop will also serve as a team meeting for the HamSCI Personal Space Weather Station project, an NSF-funded project to develop a citizen science instrument for studying space weather from your backyard. The PSWS is led by the University of Scranton, and includes participation from TAPR, Case Western Reserve University/W8EDU, the University of Alabama, the New Jersey Institute of Technology CSTR, MIT Haystack Observatory, Dartmouth College, and the ham radio community at large.

We are also excited to have the well-known contester, Tim Duffy, K3LR, as the 2020 HamSCI workshop keynote speaker at the Friday night banquet. Please come join us at this exciting workshop!

Cost and Registration

General Registration

  • Friday Registration: $100 (Includes Breakfast, Lunch, and Banquet Ticket)
  • Saturday Registration: $50 (Includes Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner)
  • Friday Banquet Ticket Only: $50

Student Registration (Saturday Only for K-12 and College Students)

  • Saturday Student Registration (Breakfast and Lunch): $25
  • Saturday Student Registration (Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner): $40

Children under 5 are free with registration of a responible adult.

Travel funding may be provided for a limited number of participants who are presenting at the workshop based upon need and impact to respective citizen science communities. Please provide a statement if your attendance depends on this funding for consideration by the Organizing Committee.

Register Now!

Call for Speakers

We are especially looking for speakers with presentations showing analysis of ionospheric observations, ideas and proposals for the design of the Personal Space Weather Station and instrumentation for the 2024 eclipse. We will also accept other presentations related to amateur radio and science. Presentations will be in the form of oral talks, posters, lightning talks, and demo room tables. Abstract and acceptance and presentation format will be chosen by the Science Program Committee. If you would like to present, please e-mail your abstract to Nathaniel Frissell, W2NAF, at hamsci@hamsci.org by February 15, 2020. Presenters will be notified by March 1, 2020.

In your abstract e-mail to hamsci@hamsci.org, please include:

  • Title of Presentation
  • Name of Presenter
  • Co-Author List with Call Signs and Affiliations
  • Abstract, limited to 1 paragraph and 350 words
  • Request of presentation or demo room table

You may request a poster presentation format.


The full program will be posted once all abstracts have been received. A summary program is as follows:

Invited Speakers

Friday Keynote: Tim Duffy, K3LR

Photo of Tim Duffy K3LR
Tim has been an active amateur radio operator for 47 years. He has hosted 132 different operators from around the world as part of the K3LR Multi-Multi DX radio sport contest efforts since 1992. He was the ARRL Atlantic Division Technical Achievement award winner in 1998. Tim has been the moderator of the Hamvention Antenna forum for 34 years. K3LR serves as chairman of Contest University (13 years), the Dayton Contest Dinner (27 years), chairman of the Top Band Dinner – as well as coordinator of the Contest Super Suite (34 years) in Dayton during the yearly Hamvention. He is founder and moderator of the popular RFI Reflector (RFI@contesting.com) since 1999. Tim serves on the board of directors of the World Wide Radio Operators Foundation (WWROF) as Chairman and is President Emeritus of the Radio Club of America (RCA). Tim is President of the Mercer County Amateur Radio Club (W3LIF). Tim was elected to the CQ Contest Hall of Fame in 2006. He was honored with the prestigious Barry Goldwater Amateur Radio service award by the RCA in 2010. K3LR was honored as Hamvention Amateur of the Year in 2015 by the Dayton Amateur Radio Association. Tim is the Chief Executive Officer and General Manager at DX Engineering. He is a graduate of the Pennsylvania State University.

Invited Talk: David Hallidy, K2DH

Photo of Dan Hallidy K2DH
Dave is a retired microwave engineer, having been employed in the RF and Microwave field for most of his adult life. He has been a licensed amateur radio operator for 53 years, since the age of 16. For many years, Dave “chased DX”- that is, attempted to contact amateurs in as many foreign countries as possible and now has confirmed contacts with 330 “entities”. In 1983, he became interested in the frequencies above 30MHz, and has experimented with signal propagation on the HF, VHF, UHF and SHF amateur bands ever since. His interests today include Aurora, Meteor Scatter, MoonBounce, Tropospheric Ducting and other unusual modes of signal propagation unique to the VHF, UHF, and SHF bands. He first experienced Auroral signal propagation in 1985, while living in Texas. An intense Aurora occurred, affecting signals as far as South Texas. Not understanding the phenomenon, he was surprised to hear some of his fellow amateurs attempting to talk and use Morse code, but with highly distorted signals- the usual pure tones of radiotelegraphy were merely a broken hissing sound and voice signals sounded like people whispering. After a while he realized that this was due to distortion caused by reflection of the signals via the Auroral Curtain. During that event, he made contacts as far away as 1000 miles on the 144 and 432MHz amateur bands. After that, he was “hooked”- whenever there were reports of Aurora, he was there, attempting to make contacts with friends around the country. After moving back to New York State, where radio Aurora is more frequent due to the closer proximity to the Auroral Curtain, he has continued to experiment with making contacts on the higher frequencies. In 1989 during a particularly intense Auroral event, he successfully made an Auroral contact with a station in Northern Canada on the 902MHz band, where it had never been achieved before. Dave lives with his wife in Rochester, NY and can be reached by email at: k2dh1@frontier.com.

Invited Talk: Dr. Elizabeth MacDonald, “Aurorasaurus: Citizen Science Observations of the Aurora"

Photo of Liz MacDonald

Liz MacDonald's research has focused on experimental particle measurement techniques and data analysis in the magnetosphere and ionosphere for the last 15 years. Liz is currently a Co-Investigator (Co-I) on the Helium, Oxygen, Proton, and Electron Spectrometer on the NASA Van Allen Probes mission. At Los Alamos National Laboratory, Liz was the Principal Investigator (PI) for the Z-Plasma Spectrometer on the DOE Space and Atmospheric Burst Reporting System (SABRS) geosynchronous payload. Liz also led the Innovative Research and Integrated Sensing (IRIS) team. In the recent past Liz led the DoE-funded Technology Infusion Project entitled Modular Advanced Space Environment Instrumentation (from 2009-2011) and served as the PI for the Advanced Miniaturized Plasma Spectrometer on the DOE SABRS Validation Experiment payload (2007-2008). Liz has a blend of expertise in both instrument development and data analysis and interpretation that comes from sounding rocket and satellite instrumentation experience. This experience ranges over the complete cycle of instrument production, including design and modeling, integration and testing, calibration, satellite operations, and in situ scientific data analysis. General interests include instrument technology development, basic magnetospheric science, and space situational awareness national priorities. Specific research interests include wave-particle interactions and the effect of plasma on radiation belt dynamics, mapping, coupling, and transport between the ionosphere and the inner magnetosphere, and the impact of heavy ions on geomagnetic storm processes. Liz holds Masters and PhD degrees from the University of New Hampshire and a Bachelor's in Physics from the University of Washington (largely funded by a NASA Space Grant scholarship). Liz is the founder and leader of Aurorasaurus, a citizen science project for the study of the aurora.

Invited Talk: Dr. James LaBelle, “Radio Physics of the Aurora”  

Photo of Jim LaBelle
Jim LaBelle is an experimental space plasma physicist. He has been at Dartmouth since 1989. He earned his undergraduate degree in physics from Stanford University (1980), followed by masters and doctorate degrees in applied physics from Cornell University (1982 and 1985). He did post-doctoral work at the Max-Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, Germany (1985-7) and at Utah State University in Logan, Utah (1987-9). He is a member of the American Geophysical Union and the International Union of Radio Scientists. He has had visiting fellowships at the Max-Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (1997, 2000-2001) and at the University of Sydney (2008). In 2010, he was appointed to the inaugural Lois L. Rodgers Professorship at Dartmouth.

Meeting Location and Parking


The 2020 HamSCI workshop will be held in the Loyola Science Center (LSC) on the campus of the University of Scranton. Presentations will take place in the PNC Auditorium (LSC 133).

Conference Meals and Friday Banquet

Breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and coffee breaks are included with registration for both Friday and Saturday. Special dietary needs can be specified when registering.

The Friday Banquet Dinner will be hosted at the Hilton Scranton & Conference Center, with keynote speaker Tim Duffy K3LR. Banquet tickets are included with Friday registration. Separate/additional banquet tickets may be purchased for $50 each.


Lodging is available at a special rate at two hotels in walking distance to the workshop location. To get the conference rate, please call the hotel and tell them you are booking for the HamSCI Workshop at the University of Scranton. Room blocks are valid until February 25, 2020. Taxes, fees, and parking are not included in prices.

Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel Scranton

  • Historic hotel located in converted Lackawanna Train Station Terminal
  • Location of Thursday Evening Gathering
  • Closest to Workshop Location
  • $109.00: Thursday Night
  • $139.00: Friday and Saturday Nights
  • (570) 342-8300
  • 700 Lackawanna Avenue, Scranton, PA 18510

Hilton Scranton & Conference Center

  • Modern 3-Star Hotel
  • Location of Friday Banquet
  • $119.00: Thursday, Friday, and Saturday Nights
  • (570) 343-3000
  • 100 Adams Ave, Scranton, PA 18503

Flight Information and Ground Transportation

Easy access to the University of Scranton and the HamSCI meeting is available by flying to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport (AVP), a 15 minute drive from the University. Complementary ground shuttles are available through the two conference hotels.

Science/Program Committee

  • Dr. Nathaniel Frissell, W2NAF, University of Scranton, Chair
  • Dr. Phil Erickson, W1PJE, MIT Haystack Observatory
  • Dr. Cathryn Mitchell, M0IBG, University of Bath
  • Dr. Elizabeth MacDonald, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
  • Mr. Bill Liles, NQ6Z, HamSCI Community

Local Organizing Committee (University of Scranton)

  • Dr. Mohammad A. Maktoomi, Chair
  • Dr. Paul Fahey
  • Dr. Declan Mulhall
  • Prof. Nicholas Truncale
  • Prof. Paul Pearson
  • Ms. Laurie McCoy, Administrative Assistant
  • Ms. Frani Mancuso, Executive Director of Conference & Event Services


For questions regarding logistics and registration, please contact Ms. Laurie McCoy at laurie.mccoy@scranton.edu (570-941-7509). For questions regarding the scientific program, please e-mail Nathaniel Frissell W2NAF at hamsci@hamsci.org.

University of Scranton and NSF Logos

The 2020HamSCI Workshop is hosted by The University of Scranton. Financial support is provided by the United States National Science Foundation.