Astrophysical plasmas are efficient particle accelerators, from keV electrons in terrestrial aurorae to > 10^20 eV ultra high energy cosmic rays of unknown provenance. The mechanisms behind these cosmic accelerators remain a long-standing mystery. Energy dissipation and particle acceleration is associated with the microphysics of shocks, magnetic reconnection, turbulence, and plasma instabilities, through highly nonlinear dynamics not yet fully understood, that require a kinetic treatment. I will discuss how the fast progress in computational and experimental capabilities is creating a unique window of opportunity to push the boundaries of our understanding of particle acceleration in plasmas by allowing the detailed kinetic modeling of different plasma processes and controlled laboratory experiments that can validate these models.
Followed by wine and cheese in Pupin 1332.