Skip to main content

Faculty Profiles

William A. Coles

Prof Emeritus, Electrical and Computer Engineering




Radio science/engineering, particularly the propagation of radio waves through turbulent media, with applications to solar wind physics and to radio astronomy in general.

Professor Coles is a radio scientist who studies astrophysical plasmas like the solar wind and the interstellar media by measuring the way in which these turbulent plasmas scatter radio waves. The radio waves typically come from a distant cosmic radio source, are scattered by the intervening turbulent plasma, and are measured using a radio telescope. A radio telescope is simply a very large antenna with a very sensitive and very broad-band receiver. The focus of his work has been the solar wind, a stream of hot plasma leaving the Sun and flowing radially outwards, in particular a study of the origin of the solar wind which is very near the Sun where direct measurements with space craft cannot be made. He also works on the interstellar plasma, which is also turbulent but not typically flowing rapidly, and pulsars, which are particularly degenerate stars that emit pulses of radio waves with great regularity.

Capsule Bio:
William Coles received his B.A.Sc. from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver in 1963 and a M. Eng. from Mc Gill University in Montreal in 1965. He began his PhD at UC Berkeley in 1965 and completed it at UC San Diego in 1969. He has been a faculty member at UCSD ever since. He has worked as a visiting scientist at Commonweath Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) in Sydney, the Cavendish Lab at Cambridge, the Observatory of Paris at Meudon, the National Center for Radio Astrophysics both in Ootacamund and in Pune, the Solar Terrestrial Environment Lab in Toyokawa, the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center in Arecibo, and the European Incoherent Scatter Facility in Tromsoe. His honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1976-77, and the Sarojini Damodaran International Fellowship in 2001.

Selected Publications:

Google Scholar Publications


Jacobs School Faculty Update Your Profile