Niescja Turner, Ph.D.
- Zilker Professor of Physics , Physics and Astronomy
Niescja Turner Ph.D., holds the endowed Charles A. Zilker Distinguished Professorship in Physics and Astronomy at Trinity University. She earned her bachelor’s in Physics at Rice University and her Ph.D. in Astrophysical, Planetary, and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She was a staff scientist at the Finnish Meteorological Institute in Helsinki, Finland before returning to the US to become a professor.
Turner was previously a faculty member at two very different schools: a large, open-admission state school on the US-Mexico border, and a small, private, research-intensive technical school where she spent 9 years as the only woman in a department of 18 faculty. She knew she craved the vibrant intellectual atmosphere of a liberal arts college, so in 2013 she moved to Trinity —a small, highly selective liberal arts and sciences university in San Antonio.
Her research interests include the physics of near-Earth space and issues of equity in STEM. Turner was a member of the task force that rewrote the ethics code for the American Geophysical Union’s 60,000 members to define harassment, discrimination, and bullying as forms of scientific misconduct.
Turner also serves on the Board of Trustees for an educational foundation dedicated to supporting education for gifted and talented students at her high school alma mater in her home state of Louisiana. She is a recipient of an NSF Career Award, a NASA Group Achievement Award, the 2014 Rice University Outstanding Space Science Alum Award, and the 2013 Joan Bixby Award for contributions for improving the climate for women. In her free time she enjoys traveling, and she has a particular interest in visiting sites famous for archeoastronomy or prehistoric rock art.
Turner’s research interests include the physics of near-Earth space and the Earth’s magnetosphere. She uses satellite data to study magnetic storms as well as quieter phenomena. She is also deeply interested in issues of equity in STEM.