After receiving his Ph.D., from the University of Colorado in 1978, Dr. Forbes carried out research at the Los Alamos National Laboratory on magnetospheric substorms using data from the International Sun-Earth Explorer satellites. He left Los Alamos in 1980 to take a position as a research fellow in the Applied Mathematics Department at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. There he worked on the theory of solar flares. Since moving to the University of New Hampshire in 1984, Dr. Forbes has continued to do research on solar flares, and he has taught courses on astronomy, astrophysics, electromagnetism, and space physics. He retired from full time research and teaching in the spring of 2012 and was appointed as an Emeritus faculty by the Board of Regents in the summer of the same year.
Dr. Forbes' research work has been supported by NASA and the National Science Foundation, and he has received grants from France and the United Kingdom to carry out collaborative projects at the Observatoire de Meudon and the University of St. Andrews. He was an associate editor of the journal Solar Physics from 1997 to 2012 and the Journal of Geophysical Research from 2002 to 2005. He is a member of the American Geophysical Union, the American Astronomical Society, the Royal Astronomical Society, and the International Astronomical Union. Dr. Forbes' book "Magnetic Reconnection: MHD Theory and Applications" co-authored with Prof. E. R. Priest at the University of St. Andrews, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2001. Dr. Forbes was awarded the George Ellery Hale prize by the Solar Physics Division of the American Astronomical Society in 2016.