Table of Contents
1. Richard Thorne Obituary
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Richard Thorne Obituary
From: Jacob Bortnik, Lunjin Chen, Monica Fiello, Richard Horne, Wen Li, Larry Lyons, Qianli Ma, Binbin Ni, Toshi Nishimura, Xin Tao, Bruce Tsurutani, Xiaojia Zhang, and many others (wenli77 at
It is our deepest sorrow to inform that Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Richard M. Thorne, has passed away on July 12, 2019 (at the age of 76) at his home in Boise, Idaho. He passed away peacefully, surrounded by his wife, Monica, his brother, Mike, and his sons, Peter, Michael and Thomas, as well as his rescued cats and dog.
Richard received an Honors B.Sc. in Mathematical Physics from Birmingham University, England in 1963 and Ph.D. in Physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1968 based on his research into the distribution of interstellar gas in the galaxy. After spending a summer working with Harry Petschek and Charlie Kennel at Avco Everett, he joined the Meteorology Faculty at UCLA in July 1968, and in 2000 he was promoted to Distinguished Professor until his retirement in 2015. He was elected as a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union in 2000.
Richard has been a consultant to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Aerospace Corporation, and Southwest Research Institute, and was a member of the Galileo Energetic Particle Detector team. Until his passing, he was a Co-I and chair of the Radiation Working Group on the NASA’s JUNO mission (2005-), and a Co-I and theory lead on the RBSP-ECT (energetic particles) and EMFISIS (waves) teams (2006-).
Richard has made numerous pioneering and most significant research contributions to fundamental understanding of wave-particle interactions in the field of space plasma physics. Currently his bibliography lists over 400 research papers including high-impact papers like Nature and Science. He provided explanations for the origin of many different classes of plasma waves found in the highly tenuous solar system plasmas, and led our field in demonstrating their importance. For example, he developed a quantitative theoretical formalism to investigate wave-particle scattering in the radiation belts and employed it to explain the loss of particles and concomitant energy input to planetary upper atmospheres. His work has provided quantitative modeling of the dynamics of the Earth’s radiation belts, the coupling processes between the magnetosphere and upper atmosphere of planets including a quantitative assessment of precipitation induced ionization, the effect of energetic electron precipitation on stratospheric ozone, and theories for auroral emissions on the Earth and Jupiter.
In addition to his outstanding research, Richard will be remembered for his incredible mentorship that has meant so much to many of us. He was also a terrific colleague, and truly a friend to many of us from all over the world.
Richard should be remembered not only as a remarkable scientist, but also as a bon vivant in the true sense of the term. In his early days, he was often seen dancing on restaurant table tops in his bell bottom pants and paisley shirt with a drink in his hand. He lived life to the fullest. One of his lifelong dreams was to move far away from cities, and he accomplished this during the summers of his last years with daily hikes in the mountains surrounding his mountain home in Idaho.
The funeral for Richard will be this Friday, July 19th, at 11:00 A.M. at Holy Apostles Catholic Church, 6300 N. Meridian Road, Meridian, Idaho 83646. More information can be found at If anyone would like to donate to a charity, they may do so online at>donate>cancer services or by mailing a check to St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor Institute, c/o St. Luke’s Foundation, 190 E. Bannock Street, Boise, Idaho 83712.
We are collecting information, anecdotes, remembrances about Richard’s career and life. If you would like to share with us, please contact Richard Horne (
Condolences to the family and messages to his wife, Monica Fiello, can be sent to
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