Walther N. Spjeldvik was born in Bergen, Norway, and he received his fundamental education in Humanities, Sciences and Languages from U. Pihl in Bergen (1964). In 1965 he was given NATO Norwegian Army Personnel Test Psychology education, and he served in the army. He subsequently received his undergraduate university education in Mathematics and Physics from the University of Bergen during 1966-1969. In parallel with his university education he took Stage Management education from the State School of Theater Arts in Oslo, and he taught mathematics, physics and chemistry as adjunct high school teacher in Bergen and in Tromsø. As a graduate student, he conducted research-award funded studies in Upper Atmosphere Physics, Ion Chemistry and Space Sciences at the Auroral Observatory at Tromsø in the Arctic Northern Norway in 1970.
With academic scholarships he further pursued his graduate education in Physics, Meteorology and Space Physics at the University of California, Los Angeles, receiving the M.S. (1971), C.Phil. (1974) and Ph.D. (1974) degrees from UCLA. He also independently studied Corporate Management Principles and Corporate Law. He later received specialized Computer Science education in a summer school in Kapaa, Kauai, Hawaii (1985), scientific institution Management Education from MIT (1997), and he continues to engage in a variety of other specialized courses and scientific study subjects (Cornell University, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Yale University, University of Colorado at Boulder, and University of Wisconsin-Madison, USPAS Accelerators Schools, etc.). He has also participated in a faculty computational physics summer course at Lawrence University. Dr. Spjeldvik has used university computers and a variety of digital systems extensively throughout his career.
After attaining his doctoral degree, Dr. Spjeldvik spent an additional year at UCLA conducting research in upper atmosphere Aeronomy and space physics as an adjunct faculty member and research staff scientist teaching atmospheric science in the UCLA Department of Meteorology (now: Department of Atmospheric Sciences). This was followed by two years as a United States National Academy of Sciences (NAS)'s National Research Council Research Associateship awardee (resident Research Associate) at the U.S. Dept of Commerce National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Environment Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado. He continued his work at the NOAA Space Environment Laboratory via NASA research funding for five years through NOAA / SEL and the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) of the University of Colorado. Several scientific discoveries were made and many research publications followed. At the Space Environment laboratory, Dr. Spjeldvik was an integral part of the national space effort, and he worked on spacecraft instrumentation (solid state proton/ion detectors and magnetic electron/ion spectrometers) that were successfully flown on the NASA ISEE-1 research spacecraft and on the USAF SCATHA space test spacecraft. All instruments were carefully tested and beam-calibrated prior to launch, and the instrumentation functioned perfectly in orbit. Much valuable data were harvested, and many scientific discoveries were made, as evidenced by journal publications.
During this period Dr. Spjeldvik and other scientists (including Dr. J. Feynman, later of Caltech-JPL and Mr. O. J. Stensbo, later of the BKK Electrical Power Company) founded Nordmann Research Ltd. (1980), and he served as its Principal Scientist and Chief Executive Officer. The company has conducted research for U.S. government agencies. From 1983 to 1985 he served as a Senior Research Physicist in a research project for the U.S. Air Force, and he served as a consultant to the USAF CRRES spacecraft instrumentation development project at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts, funded through Boston College. During 1986-90 he served as theoretical modeling consultant for the Earth's space environment to the Quality Assurance Division of California Institute of Technology's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, providing predictive and descriptive models on the Earth's proton and heavy ion radiation environment.
Since 1985 he has served as Professor of Physics at Weber State University in Utah where he advanced up the academic ranks to became a tenured full Professor of Physics at Weber State University, a large Utah university of almost 20,000 students with strong emphasis on quality education, scholarship and institutional service. He has served on many faculty and deanship candidate evaluations, and on numerous university and departmental committees, including service as University Hearing Officer and Presiding Judge in disciplinary matters within the College of Science.
In parallel with his professorship Dr. Spjeldvik continues to operate Nordmann Research Ltd., contracting widely with major national research laboratories, such as Caltech/JPL, NOAA Space Environment Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory, and other institutions. He was also briefly a consultant to UCLA in a high power radio wave atmospheric modification project. Later he served NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in the development of the Master Directory for Space Physics through a contractual role as Chief Scientist with the Hughes STX Corporation (now: Raytheon STX) in Maryland.
He was an invited Research Visiting Professor and fellowship holder in the Cosmic Physics Group at the University of Bergen, Norway during the autumn semester of 1991, and he was an invited Visiting Senior Scientist at the Skobeltsyn Nuclear Physics Institute of the State University of Moscow, Russia in early summer of 1993. Later he lectured at research institutions in Brazil, France and Norway. He has repeatedly been a consultant to the Belgian Institute of Space Aeronomy in Brussels where he conducted research in plasma wave modeling at the Belgian Institute of Space Aeronomy, Brussels Observatory. He has been a guest investigator at the RIKEN Cosmic Physics Laboratory in Tokyo, Japan where he studied heavy ion isotopic composition of the inner magnetosphere using the Japanese ADEOS spacecraft detectors. In the USA, Dr. Spjeldvik has repeatedly been a NASA Principal Investigator on space physics modeling projects regarding space radiation, as well as co-investigator on larger space program efforts involving multiple spacecraft.
With leave from Weber State University, Dr. Spjeldvik was appointed to serve as NASA's national Space Physics Discipline Scientist for Magnetospheric Physics at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. during the term June 1992 through September 1994. During his tenure at NASA Headquarters he handled the Magnetospheric Physics Supporting Research and Technology (SR&T) funding program for NASA's Space Physics Division (awarding about $4 to $5 million per year to U.S. space scientists). At NASA he served on and arranged appointments to many NASA Headquarters evaluation panels and scientific planning committees, and he has also served as coordinator of various NASA science and administrative evaluation panel activities. Dr. Spjeldvik has taken an active part in NASA's Solar Connections Flight Program development, promoted Space Weather Research (plasma science and radiation physics) initiatives, and he is an expert on geomagnetically confined energetic particle physics.
Professor Spjeldvik has served as a coordinator of NASA's national and international outreach, such as International Liaison to the Inter-Agency Consultative Group (IACG consisting of NASA, ESA, ISAS, and the Russian Space Agency), and as a United States Science Diplomat-Liaison to the bilateral Russia-USA Joint Working Group in Space Physics, convening in Moscow and in Washington, DC, where he developed and co-wrote (with his Russian counterparts) protocols for space collaboration treaty agreements between the United States of America and the Russian Federation / Commonwealth of Independent States. NASA Headquarters also appointed him Space Physics Liaison in science diplomatic missions to Argentina to explore and foster space research/utilization collaboration between the Space Agencies of the Country of Argentina (CONAE) and the United States (NASA) resulting in the launch of cooperative spacecraft.
In 1993 Dr. Spjeldvik became a member of Working Group 4 (WG4) for Space Environment Radiation Effects under the International Standards Organization (ISO). The intent is to develop an international standard magnetosphere in analogy with the standard atmosphere and standard ionosphere reference models already in existence. This has strong relevance to the future safe utilization of space activity (manned and unmanned) in Earthspace, particularly relevant to communication satellites. Following his NASA Headquarters tenure, Dr. Spjeldvik was an active contributing member of ISO/TC20/WG4 until 1999.
Professor Spjeldvik has published in many first line professional refereed journals, he has been co-editor of U.S. Air Force space physics conference proceedings, he has written chapters in space physics handbooks and in various monographs, and has contributed to a U.S. Air Force / Caltech Jet Propulsion Laboratory space environment engineering handbook. Dr. Spjeldvik has served as scientific referee for major professional journals, and he has functioned as editorial support for a U.S. textbook publisher. He has substantial experience in data analysis and data management from several NASA spacecraft, including the construction of data reduction algorithms and computer graphics for the Explorer-33 and Explorer-45, SCATHA, ISEE-1, AMPTE-CCE and ISTP-POLAR spacecraft instrumentation.
Dr. Spjeldvik has extensive experience in physical systems simulation, ionospheric physics, magnetospheric physics, space physics model building, and in applied numerical mathematical methods. He has substantial expertise in electron, proton and heavy ion physics in the Earth's space environment, and he has professional interests in atmospheric physics, the environment, the exploration of the planets, studies of the sun, and probing the boundaries of the solar system. In addition Dr. Spjeldvik has served as Chief Scientist (pro tem) for a NASA effort to produce a space physics Master Directory (now publicly available through the National Space Science Data Center), functioning in that contractual capacity at Hughes STX Systems Corporation (now: Raytheon Corporation). He has been the NASA Headquarters Liaison to the NASA space physics data restoration and archiving oversight committee. In 1994 he was appointed to the NASA Steering Committee of the Space Environment and Effects Program operated by NASA HQ's Advanced Technology Division (Code C) where his interests are in the area of novel miniaturized detector technology and physical systems imaging.
In 1996 Dr. Spjeldvik founded Nordmann Research and Development, Inc. to serve as an institutional funding vehicle for consultantships and special research project assignments. This company has provided service to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), the French Government ONERA-CERT/DESP space science laboratory in Toulouse, France, to the Energetic Particle Group at the Center for Space Physics (CSP) at Boston University, and to the Catholic Free University of Belgium and the Belgian Institute of Space Aeronomy at Brussels Observatory. A number of specialized technical reports on computational techniques have been issued as well as journal papers on scientific findings.
With sabbatical leave from his Utah university in 1996-97, Dr. Spjeldvik spent a year in residence at the Center for Space Physics at Boston University where he participated in analysis of data from the CAMMICE-instrumentation on the NASA/ISTP-POLAR spacecraft. During the summer of 1997 he took an advanced course at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Management of Scientific Institutions. Here his management team developed a business plan for a hypothetical large scale medical accelerator treatment facility. This executive education was sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the United States Particle Accelerator School (USPAS) at FermiLab. More recently he has taken advanced courses in Computer Science, including a C++ course at the University of Colorado. In 2002 Dr. Spjeldvik participated in the NASA / JPL Summer School for Planetary Scientists in Pasadena, California.
Presently Dr. Spjeldvik is engaged in frontier research on the feasibility of extraction of naturally generated anti-particles (positrons and antiprotons) from planetary magnetospheres for use in future interplanetary and interstellar relativistic space propulsion systems. Recently Draper Laboratory of Massachusetts has received a NASA NIAC research contract for a pilot study in this area (Bickford, Spence, Spjeldvik, Kochocki and Batishchev). This is in part based on research Dr. Spjeldvik has done over the past several years in collaboration with Russian scientists (Pugacheva and Gusev). For details, see recent publications in the space physics research literature.
Dr. Spjeldvik is a member of the American Geophysical Union (since 1972) where he has chaired some of its meeting sessions. He is an active associate of the international Committee on Space Research (COSPAR), and he is affiliated with the International Association of Geomagnetism and Aeronomy (IAGA) and with the European Geophysical Society (EGS). He has also been elected to membership in the honor societies of Sigma Xi and Phi Kappa Phi. During the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Utah, Dr. Spjeldvik served as member of the Salt Lake City Olympic Committee as volunteer to the Ice Sheet arena in Ogden, Utah and as liaison to the Norwegian Olympic Team.
Through progressively more responsible positions in university education, business and government Dr. Spjeldvik has become recognized as a national and international space science scholar, space exploration technical expert, an experienced university educator, an interim NASA manager of public policy, and a grants/contracts administrator. He has completed service as an associated scientific referee for the International Science Foundation (ISF), and he continues to serve as scientific referee for the American Geophysical Union. Professor Spjeldvik serves from time to time as scientific proposal assessor/referee for NASA and for the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF). He has participated in the Utah Regents of Higher Education faculty academy on "What Constitutes an Educated Person", at the Regents' Facility in Salt lake City, Utah, and he continues to be engaged in educational philosophy aspects of higher education.
[Update: June, 2005]