Faculty

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Prof. Elaine Petro | Lab Director | Assistant Professor

(461 Upson Hall) 

Elaine Petro is an Assistant Professor in the Cornell Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the Director of the Cornell ASTRA lab. Her research interests include spacecraft electric propulsion, sustainable space exploration through in-situ resource utilization, and plasma science. Petro received her Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, College Park, where she studied water-based plasma propulsion. Prior to joining the faculty in Cornell MAE, she spent time as post-doctoral researcher in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Space Propulsion Laboratory, studying electrospray thrusters for small satellite propulsion. (Google Scholar, LinkedIn, Email)

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Dr. Andrew van Paridon | Visiting Scientist

Andrew van Paridon is a visiting scientist in the Cornell Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. His research includes spacecraft propulsion, thermal modelling, and system optimization. Dr Van Paridon received his Ph.D. from the University of Oxford, UK, where he studied the effects of thermal control on the fatigue life of turbine discs. His postdoctoral work at the Oxford Thermofluids Institute continued this research, expanding it develop a novel experimental architectures for pressurized, temperature controlled, rotating facilities.(LinkedIn, Email)

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Zach Ulibarri is a postdoctoral associate at Cornell University in the ASTRALab. His research interests focus on laboratory experiments to study how complex organics and isotopic ratios may be measured by time-of-flight mass spectrometer systems, especially those utilizing hypervelocity capture or impact ionization of icy dust grains during flybys of icy ocean worlds, and how these measurements can be applied to understanding the origin of terrestrial life and the possibility of life elsewhere. During his doctoral studies at CU Boulder, he was a graduate student affiliate of the Surface Dust Analyzer (SUDA) mass spectrometer instrument on the upcoming Europa Clipper mission. He also received two awards from NASA SSERVI and was the head organizer of the LunGradCon graduate student conference for five years.

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Dr. Oliver Jia-Richards | Postdoctoral Associate

Oliver Jia-Richards is currently a Postdoctoral Associate in the ASTRALab working on the application of electrospray emission for on-orbit mass spectrometry. He received his Sc.D. in Space Propulsion and Controls from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics in 2022. His research looks at the application of propulsion systems and propulsion technologies towards space missions, as well as the characterization of electrospray propulsion systems. In August, he will be joining the University of Michigan as an Assistant Professor of Aerospace Engineering.

Graduate Students

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Carl Geiger | Ph.D. Student 

Carl Geiger is a Ph.D. student at Cornell Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. His research interests include spacecraft propulsion, mission design, and astrodynamics. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he studied Mathematics and Physics. Before coming to Cornell, he worked in the Vibro-Acoustic Systems and Controls Lab at North Carolina State University while taking engineering courses. His current research is in Electrospray Propulsion systems

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Rafid Bendimerad | Ph.D. Student

Rafid Bendimerad is a Ph.D. student at Cornell Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. His research interests include spacecraft propulsion, space mission design and astrodynamics. He received his bachelor's degree from Ecole Nationale Polytechnique in Algeria, and his master's degree from Ecole Polytechnique (l'X) in France, where he majored in Mechanical Engineering. His current research is about molecular dynamics simulations of ionic liquids used in electrospray propulsion. (LinkedIn, Google Scholar).

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Stefan Bell is an M.Eng student at Cornell Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. His research interests include spacecraft propulsion, turbulence, and GNC. Before ASTAlab, Stefan has worked on the characterization of compressible turbulence in the Bewley Applied Turbulence lab, the polyhedral rover prototype in the Space Systems Design Studio, and led the 15 pound robot team in Combat Robotics at Cornell.

Undergraduate Students

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Adiba Sajed | Undergraduate Student

Adiba is a second-year undergraduate student at the Cornell Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Her research interests include spacecraft design and space exploration. Prior to joining the lab, she worked at a Technology startup, and a nonprofit organization promoting STEM research in third-world countries

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Adam Yonas | Undergraduate Student

Adam is a Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering Junior at Cornell University. His research interests include spacecraft propulsion and design along with space exploration. After his undergraduate studies, he is going to receive his master's in aerospace engineering. Outside ASTRA lab, he is part of Mars Rover, and the Alpha CubeSat team within Cornell's Space System's Design Studio.

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Caleb Colucci | Undergraduate Student

Caleb Colucci is an undergraduate student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, he is pursuing a Bachelors in Space Physics and a minor in Engineering Sciences. His research interests include spacecraft propulsion and light dark matter detection. Caleb came to ASTRAlab through an astrophysics REU program at Cornell.

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Johan Sweldens| Undergraduate Student

Johan Sweldens is an undergraduate student at the Cornell Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and will be graduating in Spring 2022. His research interests are electric propulsion, plasma physics, satellites, and optoelectronics. Before joining the team, Johan was an intern at the Princeton University Electric Propulsion and Plasma Dynamics Laboratory.

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Claudia Pietrus | Undergraduate Student

Claudia Pietrus is an undergraduate student at the Cornell Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the Cornell School of Applied and Engineering Physics. Her research interests include spacecraft propulsion, mass spectrometry, and space exploration. She is a cadet in the Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and was on the Cornell Rocketry Team.

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Jordan Sandell | Undergraduate Student

Jordan is an undergraduate student in the Cornell Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.  She is a mechanical engineering major with minors in aerospace engineering, business, and fashion studies.  Her research interests include spacecraft technologies, aero-vehicle propulsion, and psychology.  Jordan is the technical development lead of Cornell WOAA and is on CUAir.  Before joining the team, Jordan conducted psychology research at California Polytechnic State University.

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Millie Schwartz | Undergraduate Student

Millie Schwartz is an undergraduate student at the Cornell Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Her research interests include satellites and spacecraft design. Before joining ASTRAlab, she worked on the Pathfinder for Autonomous Navigation project for Space Systems Design Studio.

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Swasti Shree | Undergraduate Student

Swasti Shree is a third year undergraduate student at the Cornell Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Her research interests include spacecraft technologies and genetic engineering for bacterial therapeutics. She is currently working as a Process Development Co-op at Boston Scientific. Previously, she was Policy & Practices Lead on Cornell iGEM.

Alumni

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Arthur Chadwick | M. Eng Student

Arthur Chadwick is an M.Eng. student at Cornell Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. He is also an engineering intern with Northrop Grumman working on the Habitation & Logistics Outpost (HALO). His research interests include space mission design and spacecraft propulsion. He received his Bachelor of Science from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) where he double majored in Mechanical Engineering and Disruptive Innovation. Before coming to Cornell, Arthur founded and ran Hyperloop at VCU, an electric vehicle design team, while taking courses. His current research is in Electrospray Propulsion systems. (LinkedIn)

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Ben Inbar | M. Eng Student

Ben Inbar is an M.Eng student at Cornell's Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. His research interests include spacecraft propulsion, computational fluid dynamics, and space exploration. He studied Mechanical Engineering as an undergraduate at Cornell University. Prior to joining the ASTRA Lab, Ben has interned with early-stage start-ups at Rev Ithaca and was a member of the Cornell Micro-G Team. 

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Mohammad Ali Moghaddasi| Undergraduate Student

Mohammad is a Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering senior at Cornell University. His research interests include spacecraft propulsion, spacecraft design, and development of lithium-ion batteries. After his undergraduate studies, he is going to attend PhD school in the field of aerospace engineering. Outside ASTRA lab, he is part of Combat Robotics, and a Teacher Assistant for thermodynamics. Previously, he has done research for development of lithium-ion batteries, and interned at BAE Systems. For more information about his experience, research, and projects, please refer to his portfolio

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Alain Alarco | M. Eng Student

Alain Alarco is an M.Eng student at Cornell's Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. His research interests include spacecraft propulsion, space mission design, solid mechanics, and tribology. He studied Mechanical Engineering as an undergraduate at Cornell University. Prior to joining the ASTRA Lab, Alain has interned twice at GE Aviation and was a member of the
Cornell Mars Rover project team.

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Shawn Cogan  | M. Eng Student

Shawn Cogan is a visiting M.Eng student completing his master's thesis at Cornell Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. His research interests include spacecraft propulsion, space mission design, and numerical simulation. He is studying aerospace engineering at the University of Stuttgart, Germany, where he also received his bachelor's degree. Before working in the lab, he interned at Airbus in the satellite mechanical design department, and was a member of the Stuttgart Rocketry Team. (LinkedIn)

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Liam Alexis | Ph.D. Student

Liam Alexis is a Ph.D. student at Cornell Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. His research interests include space communications, plasma physics and spacecraft propulsion. He received his undergrad degree at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor where he majored in Aerospace Engineering with a minor in Physics and worked in the Drake Nuclear Lab studying High energy Plasma Physics. Before joining the team he was an intern at NASA Glenn Research Center in the Quantum communications group. His current research deals with Field Emission Electric Propulsion (FEEP) systems.

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Christian Harris  

Christian Harris is an Interdisciplinary Computing - Physics student at The University of Kansas School of Engineering. His research interests include trajectory optimization, astrodynamics, and mission design. He recently participated in Cornell’s Astronomy REU program where he focused on low-thrust interplanetary mission design.

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