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Fellows Directory

Eric Priest

Professor Eric Priest FRS


Elected: 2002


Eric Priest has made fundamental contributions to magnetohydrodynamics with applications to solar physics. He is responsible for major advances in our understanding of the solar corona, whose structure is dominated by magnetic fields. With colleagues, he discovered an exact nonlinear solution involving magnetic reconnection, and he unified and generalised existing two-dimensional models, comparing the analytic results with numerical experiments.

More recently, he has been a leader in the development of the more realistic three-dimensional models. This work is brought together in a book with Terry Forbes, Magnetic Reconnection. He has studied the role of current sheets in stellar flares, arguing that a flare initiates as a magnetic catastrophe. He has made important and extensive contributions to the understanding of solar prominences, large-scale coronal loops, and to coronal heating.

Eric’s research monographs, Solar Magnetohydrodynamics (1982) and Magnetohydrodynamics of the Sun (2014), have become standard works. His research group at St Andrews is recognised worldwide and he serves on the Board of Trustees of the John Templeton Foundation.

Interests and expertise

Subject groups


magnetohydrodynamics, plasma physics, science and religion, Solar physics