Theoretical High Energy Astrophysics, Gamma-Ray Bursts, Soft Gamma Repeaters, Pulsars, Supernova Remnants, Active Galactic Nuclei, Cosmic Rays, Shock Acceleration Theory, QED Radiation Processes, Plasma Physics mechanisms, Hadronic Interactions, Dark matter. Theoretical techniques span the range from more mathematical analyses to numerical simulations, and employ many elements of physics including relativistic quantum mechanics, classical electrodynamics, plasma physics and general relativity.
1983 B.S. Honours, University of Melbourne
1989 Ph.D. University of Cambridge
Dr. Baring joined the Rice Faculty at the beginning of 2001, having held positions at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, North Carolina State University and the Max Planck Instituet fuer Astrophysik in Garching bei Muenchen, Germany. He is currently working on a variety of problems in theoretical high energy astrophysics and cosmic ray physics. These include the modeling of X-ray and gamma-ray emission from highly-magnetized pulsars, the exploration of effects of photon splitting and resonant Compton scattering in strong magnetic fields with application to neutron star systems such as pulsars and magnetars. Dr. Baring has a long track record of research in this field, which includes the issue of radio quiescence in high field pulsars. The radiation physics is incorporated in Monte Carlo modeling of pair cascades in neutron star magnetospheres. One of the principal goals is to discern the action in Nature of exotic predictions of the theory of relativistic quantum electrodynamics (QED) in strong magnetic fields, foremost among these magnetic birefringence of the polarized vacuum, and the splitting of photons in two. His work over the years on gamma-ray bursts (GRBs)has also been extensive, often encompassing critical analyses of inferences of relativistic beaming in these topical sources. In a related area he explores emission from ultra-relativistic plasma particles in the jets of blazars in active galaxies. Currently his focus in this field of extragalactic jets is on the exploration of properties of diffusive shock acceleration and implications for their emission. The basis for this focus is the simulation of particle acceleration at relativistic shocks using a Monte Carlo technique, an approach that Dr.Baring and collaborators have employed extensively and with great success in modeling the acceleration in non-relativistic outer shell shocks in supernova remnants, active galaxies, and also at the solar wind termination shock and interplanetary traveling shocks. These theoretical efforts employ a mixture of analytic and computational techniques in modeling a variety of observational data.
In relation to these interests, Dr. Baring serves as an Associate Scientist for the LAT instrument for the Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope(formerly GLAST), a major NASA space science initiative launched in 2008. He was also a Science Associate for the PRAXyS X-ray polarimetry experiment that was short-listed but not selected as a Small Explorer by NASA, and is presently a Associate Science Collaborator for the X-Calibur/InFOCuS experiment, an X-ray polarimeter in the design phase. These involvements reflect Dr. Baring's interest in interfacing closely with observational communities to comprehend better their detection techniques, so as to aid the interpretation of observations and propel scientific advances through the refinement of theoretical models. Dr. Baring was formerly the Secretary/Treasurer of the High Energy Astrophysics Division of the American Astronomical Society, 2001-2005,a Divisional Associate Editor in high energy astrophysics with Physical Review Letters, 2001-2007, and also an Associate Editor with Astrophysical Journal Letters (2007-2012). On the University front, he has been the Chair of the Fellowships and Awards Committee since 2009, has participated for several years in Rice's Empowering Leadership Alliance and Junior Faculty Triad Mentoring Programs, and is Co-Chair of Graduate Admissions in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.