Dr. David Cornelison

Dr. David Cornelison has been working as an educator and scientist in Arizona and Missouri universities for the last 25 years.  Since 2010, he has been the head of the Department of Physics, Astronomy and Materials Science at Missouri State University.  His research interests lie at the intersection of experimental condensed-matter physics and astrophysics, while his educational efforts have focused on outreach to the K-12 school system.   Most of all, he believes in curiosity-driven learning in the sciences and all other fields.


While it is true that the path of totality for the latest solar eclipse passed directly over Missouri, not all of the sun was completely obscured. Instead a nebulous region of plasma, called the corona, extends out into space and is not covered by the disc of the moon during totality. But, since the sun's primary surface is covered, some portions of the corona can be studied only during an eclipse. To exploit this fact a group of scientists set up teams across the US to take telescopic observations of the sun during totality.


When scientists discover something, they want to tell the world.  Such was the case in 1939 when word spread that the nucleus had been split.  Such was the state of the world that a group of physicists pushed to develop a weapon based on the new discovery and, in the short span of a few years, the world was changed forever.  When science is coopted for what appear to be essential but destructive needs, what are the  consequences?  In light of developments in North Korea, that question is more pertinent than ever.


The Voyager missions were intended to study the outer planets and they did so with a bang, sending back picture after picture of astounding clarity and beauty.  The public was transfixed by these images and the two missions helped lead the way to newer and better probes that would give even more insights into the solar system.  One particular picture, taken at the end of the lifetime for the cameras was of little scientific value and yet, for me, has meant more than all the others.   That is the look back onto our own earth, taken at the suggestion of Carl Sagan.

Missouri State University

It would seem that the mechanism by which our bodies live is rather simple; we eat, breathe and drink.  However, on a cellular level a great array of processes must act in a coordinated fashion if our individual cells are to do the jobs necessary for our survival.  Dr.