University of Colorado
College of Engineering & Applied Science
Aerospace Engineering Sciences
Department Update | Fall 2015
AES Distinguished Professors
The Distinguished Professor title at the University of Colorado is the highest honor CU bestows on its faculty members. The title signifies that these faculty, as deemed by their peers, have demonstrated outstanding performance in classroom teaching, research and service to the university and its affiliate institutions. In 2015 Dan Scheeres won the title. This year, on November 6, George Born, founder of the Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research in the AES department, was recognized as a Distinguished Professor at a Board of Regents meeting held on the CU-Boulder campus. Aerospace Engineering Sciences is extremely proud to have these two Distinguished Professors among our ranks.
Student Spotlight: Jorge Cervantes
For many children with unencumbered imaginations and adventurous spirits, it is a common dream to become an astronaut. For Jorge Cervantes, a junior in the CU AES department, this aspiration has served as a guiding force throughout his life. Cervantes says human spaceflight is the ultimate way " to apply all of my skills and all of my knowledge. " Upon discovering the abundance of astronauts with a military background, he decided to embark on the path of becoming a test pilot and joined CU's Air Force ROTC program.

Although he seeks to personally explore space, Jorge finds a similar excitement in developing technologies that support spaceflight. As he puts it, "one of the biggest thrills is inventing new things." For Cervantes, one of his most formative exposures to the inventiveness of the aerospace field came in the form of Colorado Space Grant Consortium, a NASA-funded organization which gives students the opportunity to develop, test and construct aerospace flight hardware with the guidance of mentors. While at Space Grant, Cervantes feels he learned "in one summer more than [he] could in a two year academic course."

Currently working with Professor Jeff Parker in CCAR, Cervantes is researching improved methods of spacecraft navigation using HDTV signals that he hopes will allow spacecraft like Orion to navigate with greater accuracy and decreased cost. Whether as an astronaut, a test pilot, or a researcher, Jorge is inspired by the aerospace opportunities that lie ahead.
Alumnus Spotlight: Torin Clark

Torin Clark (AeroEngr BS 2008, summa cum laude) is returning to the classroom on the other side of the desk as an AES assistant professor after earning his PhD at MIT. Dean Robert H. Davis

Humans did not evolve to function in microgravity. As such, a slew of interesting alterations and changes occur to the human body when it operates in space.

New faculty hire Torin Clark is involved with understanding and mitigating these changes through extensive human factors research. He explains: "I focus on the issues that humans encounter when they explore space. Within the challenges of human spaceflight, I am interested in the problems involved with humans operating aerospace vehicles and supervising control systems, the challenges of which may be compounded by disorientation caused by altered gravity environments typical of aerospace applications."

Clark's interest in bioastronautics was originally cultivated by courses he took as an undergraduate student in CU's Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences. During his graduate studies at MIT, Clark focused on astronaut perception and control during future lunar landings. He notes: "We were interested in determining how astronauts integrate information from a variety of sources, such as how much time they have left before their fuel supply runs out, where they want to ideally land, and where they need to land in order to avoid hazards. We came up with display and control interfaces that would help them [integrate this information] efficiently."

For his PhD work, Clark investigated sensorimotor impairment experienced by pilots and astronauts in hypo-gravity (less than 1 G) environments.

For his post-doctoral research, Clark served as a National Space Biomedical Research Institute First Award Fellow at the Jenks Vestibular Physiology Laboratory in the Harvard Medical School. There, he focused on understanding the individual differences that lead to variations in responses to microgravity environments. By understanding these differences, Clark aims to support the development of personalized pre-flight countermeasures.

These countermeasures, if developed, would not only be useful to astronauts; they could also decrease spatial disorientation in pilots and assist in balance rehabilitation for patients recovering from injuries and surgeries.

Clark is delighted to be joining the faculty in January 2016. For Clark, CU-Boulder has both personal and professional allure: "I grew up just outside of Boulder and am very excited to return - Boulder is definitely home for me. CU-Boulder is one of the few places where bioastronautics is a focus area, and it is a national leader in the field. My interest in sensorimotor impairment and focus on the physiological aspects of bioastronautics will nicely compliment the current research that is going on."

Our Space. Our Future.

CU-Boulder Chancellor DiStefano designated September 14 through October 17, 2015 as Space Month engaging the entire campus in 23 events open to the general public. Project ideas (submitted by faculty, staff, and students) were chosen for their relevance to the theme of the connections between space and our lives. Events included lectures, films, numerous exhibits, a radio rebroadcast of Orson Welles’s “War of the Worlds,” turning the CU Ice Rink into the Planet Pluto, and honoring CU Astronauts at Homecoming. Excluding uncounted attendance at the football game, visitors at the open exhibits, and those who listened to the radio broadcast, over 900 participants were tracked at events.

The aerospace engineering sciences pumpkin-carving team won two awards with their "hovercraft pumpkin": Best Engineering Themed and Best Overall. From left to right: Maggie Kolicko, Sanghamitra Neogi, Sarah Melssen, Lauren Cole, Bobby Hodgkinson, and Joanie Wiesman.

> Read more stories about AES research, faculty, and students written by outstanding summer intern, Ari Sandberg, on our website

Notes from the Chair, Penny Axelrad

Be Burley. Be Accurate. Be Careful!

We are pleased to announce that the wind tunnel building on east campus is nearly finished. Our own inimitable Matt Rhode moved the pieces of the wind tunnel in as they arrived (see photo above), and got everything in place for us to host a sneak peek reception for our External Advisory Board on October 23. Professor John Farnsworth expects to start his experiments on aerodynamic flow control using the tunnel next spring.

CU-ASV Day 2015

On September 30th we also hosted our third CU-Boulder AeroSpace Ventures (CU-ASV) Day. Gregg Burgess, vice president of Technology & Engineering at Sierra Nevada Corporation Space Systems, was the industry keynote speaker, followed by more than 20 research presentations by faculty. Thirty-seven industry representatives from 15 different companies attended the Innovation Session. In conjunction with the campus-wide technical career fair also held that day, 29 aerospace companies recruited from among the 231 AES students who participated.

New Faculty

This academic year we welcome three new assistant professors to our ranks. Robert Marshall's interests and expertise span small satellite development to lightning-ionosphere interactions, while Sanghamitra Neogi studies structure-processing-property relationships in materials and structures. They joined us this fall, while Torin Clark, an expert in biomedical research with space applications, starts in January 2016 (see Alumnus Spotlight below). In addition, we are honored to have Professor James Brasseur join our faculty as research professor this September. Jim is renowned for his work in fluid dynamics, with 26 years of teaching and world class research as a tenured professor at Penn State.

Honors & Awards


Lisa Hardaway (AeroEngr PhD 2000), Women in Aerospace Leadership Award


Penny Axelrad, Women in Aerospace Educator Award, AIAA Momentum Member Spotlight November 2015
George Born, Distinguished Professor, University of Colorado
Alireza Doostan, NSF Early Career Research Award, Provost's Faculty Achievement Award, Dean's Outstanding Teaching Award
Jeff Forbes, European Geosciences Union 2016 Julius Bartels Medal
Eric Frew, Provost's Faculty Achievement Award
Jim Nabity, AIAA Associate Fellow
Hanspeter Schaub, Alfred T. and Betty E. Look Professorship
Joe Tanner, Sullivan Carlson Award


Lauren Cole, Employee Recognition Award
Joanie Wiesman, Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks winning photograph


CU graduate students have won numerous graduate fellowships and awards, including:

18 NASA Science and Technology Fellowships, Aeronautics Fellowships, and Earth System and Science Fellowships, 13 NSF Graduate Fellowships, 5 National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowships or Department of Defense Branch Fellowships, 2 Amelia Earhart Fellowships, 10 additional Fellowships, including 1 Fulbright Grant

Vicki Hsu, First Place, Ionosphere and Thermosphere Student Poster, CEDAR Conference
Nicola Baresi, Best Student Paper, International Workshop on Satellite Constellations and Formation Flying
Weichun Fong, First Place, Mesosphere and Lower Thermosphere Student Poster, CEDAR Conference
Jason Leonard, John Vise Graduate Student Excellence Award
McArthur Jones, John Vise Graduate Student Excellence Award
Osama Bilal, Graduate Student Service Award


Kirstyn Johnson College Academic Achievement Award 4.0 GPA (May 2015)
Alex Tuskowski Third Place Undergraduate Category, AIAA Region V Student Conference
MEDUSA senior project team 2014-2015 Second Place, AIAA Region V Student Conference
RACER senior project team 2014-2015 AIAA Region V Student Conference

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Aerospace Engineering Sciences
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