Position: Assistant Research Scientist
Institution: Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences in the College of Engineering, University of Michigan
Impact Project: Team member operating on NASA’s MESSENGER, ACE and WIND spacecraft
Hometown: Blissfield, MI
Attended: University of Michigan
Degree: University of Michigan Ph.D. (2012) Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Science
When Jim Raines came to the University of Michigan, he was coming home. Raines grew up in Blissfield, Michigan, graduated from Clemson University in 1990 and got his master’s degree in Chemistry from Carnegie Mellon University. He earned his Ph.D., Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences, from the University of Michigan in 2013 and works as a space plasma physicist interested in the solar wind and planetary magnetospheres, including that of Earth. Before becoming a member of U-M’s elite Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Science Department, Raines tried his hand at teaching.
He taught chemistry and physics at Lincoln High in Ypsilanti, but found that he missed research. “I decided to get back into research, went to U-M, and because of previous experience I got a job as a computer programmer,” said Raines. “I did that for a few years and then they had me in charge of several of the instruments we had in space.” The department and NASA then funded him to earn his Ph.D.”
His current research focus is on Mercury’s magnetosphere and in his work he uses data from the Fast Imaging Plasma Spectrometer (FIPS) which was built at UM (1998-2003). It orbited Mercury on MESSENGER from 2011-2015.
Raines is thrilled to be able to do work he loves in the state where he grew up and now raises his own children. He said that when people learn he works with NASA from Michigan, he’s often met with puzzled looks. “I don’t think I’ve ever met anybody who, upon hearing what I do, had any idea that kind of work was going on in Michigan. Our department is one of the best in the world. It’s a real blue chip for Michigan.”
Photo Credits: Jim Raines holding a piece of the moon that fell to Earth as a meteor, courtesy Raines Family; Image of Mercury captured by MESSENGER courtesy NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics