Space Research Institute for Discovery and Exploration

University of Cincinnati Space Research Institute for Discovery and Exploration aims to use the knowledge and competencies of our faculty, students, and partners to continue Ohio's extensive legacy of contributions to aviation and spaceflight.


In 2007, UC was the recipient of a substantial monetary gift with the intent to create a space exploration research effort as well as the establishment of two endowed chairs, the Thomas Jefferson Endowed Chair for Discovery and the Alan B. Shepard Endowed Chair for Exploration. Each of these chairs will further develop the intent of exploration and discovery through their own innovative research. In addition, this gift continues to inspire the next generation of scientist and engineers across multiple disciplines.

UC was also the academic setting for Neil Armstrong after he left NASA. As professor of aerospace engineering, he inspired the next generation of aerospace engineers.

Neil Armstrong and John Glenn at UC in 1986

Meet the Director

The University of Cincinnati recently named Professor Charles Doarn as the inaugural director of the institute. Professor Doarn holds degrees from The Ohio State University and the University of Dayton. He serves as a Research Professor in the Department of Environmental and Public Health Sciences within the College of Medicine as is the Program Director of UC’s Master of Public Health. His full CV can viewed here.


Director’s Message –

I am delighted to support the UC Office of Research in this new endeavor. Most of my career has been at the intersection of medicine, public health, engineering and program management. While I remain fully engaged in medicine and public health with ties to NASA, it is my program management skills that I will apply to this new institute in helping shape the University of Cincinnati’s efforts in aerospace through mutually-beneficial partnerships with NASA’s aerospace engineering activities, the United States Air Force at Wright Patterson, industry partners, academia, and the State of Ohio in expanding our boundaries in education and discovery. Each new graduate of our engineering and applied sciences program as well as other disciplines within our vibrant urban campus will be better prepared as a result of their involvement with our faculty, collaborators, and this institute. Feel free to contact me by phone at (513) 558- 6148 or by email at

Faculty Chairs

Tomasz Stepinksi Portrait 

Tomasz Stepinski PhD

Thomas Jefferson Chair of Space Discovery

Beginning in 2010, Tomasz F. Stepinski, PhD established the Space Informatics Lab (SIL) in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Geography. SIL’s mission is to develop intelligent algorithms and online tools for fast and intuitive exploration of large spatial datasets that originated from remotely sensed planetary data, including Earth data. Such tools give the scientific community and the public the ability to get insights from the entirety of the data, not just from individual images. Examples include automated mapping of craters and valley networks (dry river networks) on Mars, automated generation of mineral maps from hyperspectral images of Mars, and a tool that performs Earth-wide search for sites with landscapes and climates similar to a user-provided query. Stepinski has a PhD in Applied Mathematics and MS in Astrophysics. Before arriving at UC he worked at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, Texas. At UC he currently teaches a freshman-level course - “Exploring the Solar System” to introduce undergraduates to the topic of space exploration.

Click here to see contact information and publications


Ou Ma

Alan B Shepard Chair of Exploration

Ou Ma received his PhD degree from McGill University in 1991. He is currently serving as the Alan B Shepard Chair and Professor at University of Cincinnati (UC). His research interests are dynamics and control for aerospace robotics and autonomous systems. Dr. Ma is currently directing the Intelligent Robotics and Autonomous Systems (IRAS) Lab at UC, whose research portfolio includes multi-robot teaming as distributed systems, human-robot interaction and collaboration, satellite on-orbit services, and intelligent robotics for smart manufacturing. Prior to joining UC, Dr. Ma worked as an associate professor (2002-2008), professor (2008-2012), and Nakayama chair professor (2012-2017) at the New Mexico State University. From 1991 to 2002, Dr. Ma worked as an R&D lead and project engineer for MDA Robotics and Automation (then called Spar Aerospace or MDA Space Missions), participated in the operational support of the Space Shuttle Remote Manipulator System (also called Canadarm), and the development of the Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS or Canadarm2) and Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (SPDM or Dextre) for the International Space Station, leading the efforts of dynamics modeling and simulation-based verification and validation of these two space robots. Dr. Ma has also participated in the development of the European Proximity Operation Simulator (EPOS) for the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the development of the robotic arm for DARPA’s Orbital Express mission.

Click here to see contact information and publications

Advisory Board

The Institute is guided by a diverse group of subject matter experts internal and external to UC. These individuals, listed below bring interdisciplinary prowess to Institute, providing strategic advise as it grows in stature and capability. From time to time, individuals will join the Board.

Amit Battacharya Portrait 

Amit Bhattacharya, PhD

Department of Environmental and Public Health Sciences
UC College of Medicine

Dr. Bhattacharya holds a PhD degree in biomedical engineering and a MS in fluid mechanics/heat transfer, from the University of Kentucky. He is a Professor of Environmental Health, Biomedical Engineering & Mechanical Engineering at the University of Cincinnati. He is the founding Director of the EDDI LabEarly Detection of Degenerative Disorders & Innovative Solutions. Dr. Bhattacharya has made significant contributions in a variety of research domains: wearable and ingestible sensors for real-time assessment/prediction of hyperthermia among first responders during live firefighting incidents, genetic susceptibility impact on postural stability and gait functions of naval aviators, therapeutic aspects of cardio-synched whole body vibration, as a countermeasure for cardiovascular deconditioning resulting from weightlessness, and the development of noninvasive, techniques for the quantification of postural imbalance as an indicator of neurotoxicity and identification of preclinical biomechanical markers of osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. His research, in the area of noninvasive quantification of postural balance for use in early detection of chemical toxicity, received national recognition when he was invited by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) to present a “hand on” demonstration of this technique at the National Medical Research Day. Dr. Bhattacharya is frequently invited to serve as ad hoc member on a variety of scientific review panels organized by U.S. National Academies of Sciences & Engineering, National Institute of Health (NIH), NIOSH, CDC, DOD and international organizations. He is a Fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society & Senior member of the National Academy of Inventors.


John A. Benek, PhD

Senior Scientist
Air Force Research Laboratory, Aerospace Systems Directorate
Wright Patterson Air Force Base

John A. Benek has over 50 years of leadership experience in the research, development, and application of advanced wind tunnel testing methods, Computational Fluid Dynamics, and the integration of wind tunnel testing and advanced fluid dynamics modeling and simulation methods. He is currently the senior scientist for aeronautics in the Air Force Research Laboratory, Aerospace Systems Directorate at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. Prior to his current position, John has 30 years of experience at the Air Force, Arnold Engineering and Development Center where became the Manager of the Computational Fluid Dynamics Department, Microcraft, Inc./AEDC Operations. He also has served as the Manager of high-Performance Computing, Test and Evaluation Support, Raytheon/Army Research Lavatory. John earned his B.S. degree from the University of Cincinnati and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Tennessee. He has been active in professional societies serving as the Chairman of the University of Tennessee Space Institute Chapter of Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Honorary Society, Chairman of the Tennessee Section of the AIAA, Chairman of the AIAA Atmospheric Fluid Mechanics and of the Applied Aerodynamics Technical Committees. John is a Fellow of the AIAA; he received the AIAA Tennessee Arnold Award, and the AIAA Aerodynamics Award. He is a Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Cincinnati and a member of the university Advisory Board for the College of Engineering and Applied Science Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics.

Elaine Bryant Portrait 

Elaine Bryant

Managing Director, Military and Federal Sector
Dayton, Ohio

Ms. Bryant is the Dayton Development Coalition's Executive Vice President for Aerospace and Defense. She is also the Managing Director of the Federal and Military sector for JobsOhio. Elaine has over two decades of experience in the U.S. Air Force. She holds a BS in Engineering from The Air Force Academy and a master’s in Aerospace from the University of Maryland. Her first assignment was as an F-16 maintenance officer at Hill AFB, UT. She was later stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base to serve in the Air Vehicles directorate of AFRL, followed by positions at HQ AFMC as Executive Officer to the Chief of Staff, and Aide-de-Camp to the Air Force Material Command Commander. Elaine then served as an Assistant Professor for Aeronautics at the Air Force Academy, and then Commander of Cadet Squadron 24. She later held program management and engineering leadership positions at the F-35 JPO and SAF/AQR in Washington, D.C.

Elaine returned to WPAFB to serve as Commander of the Foreign Material Exploitation Squadron at the National Air and Space Intelligence Center. Her final Air Force assignment was Deputy Chief of the Human Systems Program Office.

In her current role, Elaine’s focus is preserving, protecting and expanding missions at federal and military installations in the Dayton region and across the state of Ohio.

During the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, she was hand-picked to serve as a loaned executive to Governor DeWine’s staff to establish PPE acquisition practices and execute the purchase of PPE for the state.

Kelly Cohen Portrait 

Kelly Cohen, PhD

Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics
UC College of Engineering and Applied Science

Dr. Cohen is the Interim Department Head (since 2017) and the Brian H. Rowe Endowed Chair at the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at the University of Cincinnati. He's an Associate Fellow of the AIAA (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics), past Chair of AIAA’s Intelligent Systems Technical Committee and Senior Member, IEEE. Dr. Cohen received all of his three degrees from the faculty of Aerospace Engineering at the Technion, Israel. Prior to joining UC in 2007, he has 22 years of experience in military R&D organizations working on UAVs and Air Mobility systems and technologies. Furthermore, his main expertise lies in the area of Artificial Intelligence (AI), intelligent systems, UAVs systems and operations. He has utilized genetic fuzzy logic-based AI algorithms for decision-making in aerospace and bio-medical applications. Since 2010, he has graduated 10 PhD students and 26 MS students and secured around $6.0M in research funding at UC. During the past 7 years, he has secured grants from NSF, NIH, USAF, DHS, OFRN and NASA to develop algorithms for UAV applications as well as AI for bio-medical applications. He has over 115 per reviewed archival publications including 20 book chapters, and another 340 conference papers/presentations, and invited seminars. Dr. Cohen's current research team includes 6 full time staff, 8 PhD, 7 MS and numerous undergraduate students. Additionally, he serves on the Editorial Boards of three international journal publications, namely, Unmanned Systems, the International Journal of Unmanned Systems Engineering (IJUSEng)and Automation.

Richard Harknett Portrait 

Richard J. Harknett, PhD

Professor and Chair
Department of Political Science
UC College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Harknett is Professor and Head of the Department of Political Science and Chair of the Center for Cyber Strategy and Policy at the University of Cincinnati. He co-directs the Ohio Cyber Range Institute, a state-wide organization supporting education, workforce, economic, and research development in cybersecurity. He served as Scholar-in-Residence at US Cyber Command and National Security Agency in 2016-17, where he contributed to the core development of the doctrine of cyber persistent engagement and several US strategy documents. He served as a Red Team member of the US Congressional Cyber Solarium Commission. He briefs on Capitol Hill and other US government agencies and has presented both policy briefings and academic research in 11 countries. Professor Harknett provides public engagement having made over 100 media appearances. He has held two Fulbright Scholar appointments: in 2017 in Cyber Studies at Oxford University, United Kingdom and in 2001 in International Relations at the Diplomatic Academy, Vienna, Austria, where he holds a professorial lecturer appointment. He has authored over 60 publications in international relations theory, international security, and cyber security studies with over $19 million in grant support. Aside his two Fulbright awards, Professor Harknett has been honored to receive numerous recognitions, including at the University of Cincinnati, the Provost Career Award, Office of Research Faculty Award for Excellence, the University Award for Exemplary Service, and the Edith Alexander Award for Teaching Excellence as well as the State of Ohio Faculty Innovator Award. He is an avid Liverpool Football Club supporter.


Ashley Kubley, MFA

Associate Professor of Fashion Design
Associate Director of the Myron E. Ullman Jr. School of Design
Head of the Evelyn G. Burgoyne Textiles Innovation Laboratory
UC School of Design Architecture Art and Planning

Ms. Kubley serves as the Associate Director of the Myron E. Ullman Jr. School of Design. She has over 17 years of experience in fiber and textile science and textile design, including apparel production, product development, and entrepreneurship. Currently serving as an Associate Professor of Fashion Design and Head of the Evelyn G. Burgoyne Textiles Innovation Laboratory, Kubley has worked in fashion design education as a researcher in the area of textiles and innovation for over a decade with a particular concentration on smart materials and materials innovation. Most recently Kubley has collaborated with the University of Cincinnati engineering program to implement Carbon Nanotube fabric into wearables since 2017. Kubley has been awarded funding to pursue this research and further her findings through the integration of Carbon Nanotube Hybrid Active Textile Systems in Personal Protective Equipment for the Ohio Fire Service with a team of scientists across the University of Cincinnati's Colleges of Engineering, Medicine, and Design.


Tamara Lorenz, PhD

Associate Professor
Mechanical and Electrical Engineering
UC College of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Dr. Tamara Lorenz is an Associate Professor holding a joint appointment in Psychology, Mechanical Engineering, and Electrical Engineering. She has a background in systemic neuroscience, cognitive psychology, mechanical engineering, and human factors/ergonomics (MSc Mechanical Engineering, TUM 2008, PhD Systemic Neuroscience, LMU 2015, both Munich, Germany). Dr. Lorenz’s research focusses on non-verbal, behavior-based, intuitive human-machine interaction (HMI) with novel technologies, particularly robots (HRI), artificial intelligence (AI), and Virtual Reality. To understand the requirements for HMI, she also studies and models human-human interaction, multi-robot interaction, and human/machine embodiment. Her approach is to collect multisensory behavioral data and use complex dynamical systems theory and machine learning to analyze, understand, model, and compare human and machine behavior on the individual and interactive level over time. Dr. Lorenz’s research takes a holistic transdisciplinary approach that ranges from basic to applied research, with major applications in the healthcare and manufacturing industry – and first steps towards space exploration. Besides research, her goal is to connect compassionate leadership and organizational efficiency with interdisciplinary communication, translation, and integration fostering novel insight, application, and education. At UC she teaches Human Factors and Human Performance at the undergraduate level, and a psychology/engineering cross-listed class on Human-Robot Interaction at the graduate level. Dr. Lorenz currently serves as the director for the Center for Cognition, Action, and Perception (CAP) and is a member of the leadership team for the UC Industry 5.0 Institute. She serves on the Advisory Board for the Institute for Research in Sensing (IRiS) for which she was an inaugural leadership team member.


Ou Ma, PhD

Alan B. Shepard Endowed Chair for Exploration
Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics
UC College of Engineering and Applied Science

Ou Ma received a BS from Zhejiang University and an MS and PhD degree from McGill University in mechanical engineering and robotics. He is now the Alan B Shepard Chair Professor at the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, University of Cincinnati (UC), and directing the UC Intelligent Robotics and Autonomous Systems Laboratory (IRAS Lab). His research interests are space robotics and automation, intelligent robotics, autonomous systems including UAVs and UGVs, human-robot interaction and collaboration, and smart manufacturing. Dr. Ma has led numerous research projects sponsored by NSF, NASA, AFOSR/AFRL, ARO, and industry in the past two decades. From 2002 to 2017, Dr. Ma worked for the New Mexico State University where he held the title of John Nakayama Professor in Research Excellence and directed the Reduced Gravity and Biomechanics Laboratory and the UAV and Mechatronics Lab. Prior to that, Dr. Ma worked for MDA in Canada from 1991 to 2002, as a senior control engineer and R&D lead, leading the efforts of contact-dynamics and system dynamics modeling, simulation, and experimental verification of the two well-known space robots SSRMS (Canadarm2) and SPDM (DEXTUE) for the International Space Station program. He also participated in the design and development efforts of the DARPA’s Orbital Express robotic mission, the Canadian Space Agency’s SPDM Task Verification Facility (STVF) and the German Aerospace Center’s European Proximity Operation Simulator (EPOS). Dr. Ma has published over 200 research papers in major robotics and aerospace journals and conferences proceedings and held several patents. He has served as an associate editor for many journals and conferences in the robotics field and is still serving the editorial boards of Frontier in Robotics and AI, Drones, and ASME Journal of Dynamic Systems, Measurement and Control.

Scott Petersen 

Scott Petersen, MS, MA, MBA

Executive Director
Digital Futures – Cyber Development
UC Office of Research

COL (USA, RET) Scott Petersen is an Executive Director of the Digital Futures initiative at the University of Cincinnati (UC), focused on Cyber, Unmanned Systems, & Artificial Intelligence R&D, as well as broad outreach with the Department of Defense. He transitioned to UC after a 30-year career as an Army Engineer Officer; with most recent position as Chief of the Strategy and Policy Division of the Army HQ Cyber, Electronic Warfare, and Information Operations Directorate. He has commanded Engineer units at company, battalion, and brigade levels—at home and in combat. He oversaw all engineer operations and a $4Billion+ construction program across the US Central Command area of responsibility; served as XO to the Chief of Engineers; graduated from and taught leadership at the US Military Academy; and served with US Special Forces. He holds 3 Masters’ degrees in business, industrial-organizational psychology, and national resource strategy. His military awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (2), and Bronze Star (3). Active TS (SCI-eligible) clearance.


Michael A. Riley, PhD

Department of Rehabilitation, Exercise, & Nutrition Sciences
College of Allied Health Sciences

Dr. Riley received his BA in Psychology from the University of Louisiana-Monroe in 1994 and his PhD in Experimental Psychology from the University of Connecticut in 1999. He has been on the UC faculty since 2000, serving from 2000-2021 in the Department of Psychology (where he was the Director of the Center for Cognition, Action, and Perception) and beginning in 2021 in the Department of Rehabilitation, Exercise, & Nutrition Sciences. He serves as Director of the Digital Futures Advanced Human Performance & Neuromechanics Laboratory. His research intersects human biomechanics, neuroscience, and cognitive science, using theoretical perspectives from complex dynamical systems theory and the ecological approach to perception-action, technological tools such as AR/VR and motion capture, and analytic tools such as nonlinear time series methods and mathematical modeling. Using this integrative framework, his work investigates human sensorimotor coordination, control, learning, and adaptation with applications to rehabilitation, injury risk reduction, and preserving and enhancing human performance. He has published over 125 peer-reviewed articles, and his work has been supported by over $10 million in funding from agencies including the U.S. Army Medical Research & Development Command, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health.


Paula Silva, PT, MS, PhD

Associate Professor
Department of Psychology
UC College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Paula L. Silva received a BA degree in Physical Therapy from Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais – UFMG (Brazil), an MS degree in Rehabilitation Science also from UFMG, and a PhD in Experimental Psychology from the University of Connecticut in 2009. She is currently an Associate Professor and co-director of graduate training in the Psychology Department, University of Cincinnati. She is also primary faculty at the Center for Cognition, Action, & Perception and active member of UC’s Digital Futures, working on the interface between the Bio-AI and Human Performance Labs. As a scientist, she studies human performance, both functional and dysfunctional, from the perspectives of complexity science and ecological psychology. Her research focuses on (a) the action strategies of individuals of different ages, with and without pathological conditions, during performance of a variety of tasks, and (b) the perceptual capabilities that supports adaptability of action strategies to particular circumstances. Her research program has three complimentary aims. The first is to examine and advance general theoretical principles to explain the coordination and perceptual regulation of biological movement that support successful performance in diverse circumstances. The second is to reveal and explain changes in movement coordination and perceptual capabilities associated with pathological conditions. The third is to apply these principles in the design of methods to assess and enhance resilience of individuals with movement-related disability and those at risk for sports injury. Her overarching goal is to promote effective cross-fertilization between theory and applied fields related to the enhancement of human performance.

Tomasz Stepinksi Portrait 

Tomasz Stepinski, PhD

Thomas Jefferson Endowed Chair for Discovery
Department of Geography
UC College of Arts and Sciences

Tomasz Stepinski is interested in planets (including the Earth), computation, and data science. He is the Thomas Jefferson Chair Professor of Space Exploration in the Department of Geography and GIS of the University of Cincinnati. Tomasz has a master’s in astrophysics and Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from the University of Arizona. Prior to his appointment at UC in 2010, he held a position of Staff Scientist in the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, TX, a NASA-funded Institute devoted to planetary research and to supporting the planetary science community. Tomasz’s early research concentrated on the formation of the Solar System and other planetary systems. He also pioneered the field of automatic extraction of information from large datasets, for example, automatic identification of craters in images or automated mapping of various landforms from digital elevation models. Since arriving at UC his major concentration is the research on more complete utilization of space-based data (images, topography, etc.) through an intelligent algorithmic exploration of vast datasets. His research was funded by numerous grants from NSF and NASA. The full account of Tomasz’s contributions to science can be found at Google Scholar.

Mary F. Wadel

Mary F. Wadel, MS

Director of Technology Integration and Partnerships
NASA’s Glenn Research Center
Cleveland, Ohio

Mary F. Wadel received her master’s degree in aerospace and mechanical engineering from Case Western Reserve University. She is graduate of the University of Cincinnati where she earned her bachelor’s in aerospace engineering. Ms. Wadel serves as the director of Technology Integration and Partnerships at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. In this role, she is responsible for aligning the center’s early-stage technology investments with its long-term technology goals, strategic partnerships for economic development in the region, and the transfer of Glenn-developed technologies to private industry. She served in a number of leadership roles at NASA Glenn, including on detail acting director of her current office, deputy director of Aeronautics at NASA Glenn, where she assisted in overseeing the center’s investments in research and development projects under the agency’s Advanced Air Vehicles, Integrated Aviation Systems, Airspace Operations and Safety, and Transformative Aeronautics Concepts Programs.  Wadel began her NASA career in 1988 performing experimental research in rocket propulsion. She transitioned to working in aeronautics in 1999 as the project manager for aircraft icing. She went on to hold several project management positions, including stints with the Advanced Air Transport Technology Project, Cryogenic Fluid Management Project, and Technology Investments in the Aeronautics Test Program. Wadel also spent eight years as the chief of Glenn’s Aircraft Icing Branch. She completed a detail assignment as the deputy director of research at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. In this role, she supported research in developing technologies to revolutionize air and space travel in the areas of aerosciences, materials and structures, and integrated flight systems. Ms Wadel has been recognized for her contributions as a recipient of NASA Exceptional Service Medal and The Robert J. Collier Trophy as part of the Commercial Aviation Safety Team.

Space Research Institute Fellowship Program

The Institute has established two fellowship programs, one for undergraduates and one for graduate students. These awards will begin in January 2022.

They are:

  • SRIDE Fellowship for Discovery - Undergraduates
  • SRIDE Fellowship for Exploration – Graduate Students
More information can be found on our internal funding page.


SRIDE Fellowship for Discovery (undergrads)

Yashvi Srivastava
Aerospace Engineering
College of Engineering & Applied Science

Ross Thayer
Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics
College of Engineering & Applied Science

SRIDE Fellowship for Exploration (graduate students) 

Nicole Carver
College of Arts & Sciences

Dylan Roach
Aerospace Engineering
College of Engineering & Applied Science

Rebecca Gilligan
Mechanical Engineering
College of Engineering & Applied Science

Liang Zhang
Civil and Architectural Engineering and Construction Management
College of Engineering & Applied Science

Aida Ramusovic-Witham
Political Science
School of Public and International Affairs, College of Arts & Sciences

Wilhelm Louw
Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics
College of Engineering & Applied Science

SRIDE Fellowship for Discovery (undergrads)

Prasanna Adhikari
College of Arts & Sciences

Rebecca Gilligan
Mechanical Engineering
College of Engineering & Applied Science

Tri Nguyen
Aerospace Engineering
College of Engineering & Applied Science

Mikhail Nikolaneko
Computer Science
College of Engineering & Applied Science

Nathan Steffen
Aerospace Engineering
College of Engineering & Applied Science

SRIDE Fellowship for Exploration (graduate students)

Shraddha Barawkar
Mechanical Engineering
College of Engineering & Applied Science

Andrew Barth
Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics
College of Engineering & Applied Science

Piero Paialunga
Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics
College of Engineering & Applied Science

Elizabeth Rochford
Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics
College of Engineering & Applied Science

Matthew Verbryke
Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics
College of Engineering & Applied Science

SRIDE Fellowship for Discovery (undergrads)

Rebecca Gilligan
Mechanical Engineering
College of Engineering & Applied Science

For more information, please see this news article

SRIDE Fellowship for Exploration (graduate students)

Anirudh Chhabra
PhD student, College of Engineering and Applied Sciences – Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics

Daegyun Choi
PhD student, College of Engineering and Applied Sciences – Aerospace Engineering

Aida Ramusovic
PhD student, College of Arts and Sciences - Political Science

Benjamin Russ
MS student, College of Engineering and Applied Sciences – Mechanical Engineering

Yufeng Sun
PhD Student, College of Engineering and Applied Sciences - Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics

SRIDE Fellowship for Discovery (undergrads)

Rebecca Gilligan
College of Engineering & Applied Science

Recipients of the Inaugural SRIDE Fellowship

Kyle Dunlap
PhD student in Aerospace Engineering
Summer Semester 2021.

For more information, please see this news article

Awards, Accolades and Recognition

SRIDE Fellows participate in the UC’s Undergraduate Scholarly Showcase

On April 20, 2023, the SRIDE Fellows of Discovery participated in UC’s annual Undergraduate Showcases in Tangeman Hall. SS2023 Fellows (Prasanna Adhikari, Rebecca Gilligan, Tri Nguyen, Mikhail Nikolaneko and Nathan Steffen) presented their work either in a poster presentation or podium presentation – Exploring the Beyond. This event marked the culmination of their SRIDE Fellowship of Discovery. Professor Doarn, SRIDE Director, recognized each Fellow with a memento of their fellowship. ’

SS2023 SRIDE Fellows (l-r) R. Gilligan, M. Nikolaneko, N. Steffen, Professor Doarn, R. Nguyen and P. Adhikari

SS2023 SRIDE Fellows (l-r) R. Gilligan, M. Nikolaneko, N. Steffen, Professor Doarn, R. Nguyen and P. Adhikari ’

International Academy of Astronautics logo

SRIDE Holds its Inaugural Symposium at Digital Futures

On November 17, 2022, SRIDE held it inaugural symposium at Digital Futures. The symposium provided an opportunity for the SRIDE Fellows of Discovery and Exploration to share their work. The first-class Discovery Fellows (Rebecca Gilligan) and Exploration Fellows (Aida Ramusovic, Anirudh Chhabra, Benjamin Russ, Daegyun Choi and Yufeng Sun) provide excellent summaries of their research during this past year. The second class of Fellows provide a brief summary of their work in the ‘lightening round’. The second class of Fellows include Rebecca Gilligan as Discovery Fellow and Shraddha Barawkar, Andrew Barth, Piero Paialunga, Elizabeth Rochford and Matthew Verbryke as Exploration Fellows. The meeting kicked off with remarks from Dr Patrick Limbach, Vice President of Research. The keynote address was given by Dr. Kelly Cohen, UC College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. His address was entitled ‘Human-centered Trustworthy AI enabled Aeromedical and Biomedical Systems for Space Exploration.’

Doarn named a full member of the International Academy of Astronautics in July 2022.

SRIDE Director, Professor Charles Doarn was recently inducted as a full member of the International Academy of Astronautics. He was previously a corresponding member in the Life Sciences Section.

2022 –

  1. Javier Viaña Pérez was notified of his selection for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) John Leland Atwood Graduate Award. The award will be bestowed in January 2023 at the AIAA SciTech Forum, which will be held at the National Harbour, MD
  2. Kyle Dunlap’s paper, entitled ‘Hybrid Fuzzy-LQR Control for Time Optimal Spacecraft Docking’, has been accepted to the 2022 NAFIPS conference.
  3. Viaña J, Ralescu S, Kreinovich V, Ralescu A, Cohen K were the winners of the Best Paper Award at the 2022 NAFIPS Annual Conference, May 31-June 3, 2022, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. The paper was ‘Initialization and Plasticity of CEFYDRA (Cluster-first Explainable FuzzY-based Deep self-Reorganizing Algorithm)’.
  4. Verbryke M, Cohen, K. were the winners of the Best Student Paper Award at the 2022 NAFIPS Annual Conference, May 31-June 3, 2022, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. The paper was ‘Pulsar Candidate Selection Using a Genetic Fuzzy System’.
  5. Gilligan R, Cohen K. Winner of first place for best undergraduate student paper at the AIAA Student Competition, Region III, Purdue University, IN, March 25-26, 2022. The paper was ‘Design of an All-Terrain Aerial Robotic Interface (ATARI) as a Collaborative Platform for UAVs”.

Internship Opportunities

The NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, OH ( has several internship opportunities. To find out more about these, please visit

Diversity and Inclusion

One of the Institutes key objectives is to encourage all students to get involved in the many facets of aerospace and space exploration. Virtually every discipline at UC has a role to play in preparing leaders for these growing fields. The are several organizations here at UC that encourage students, especially women, to purse careers in engineering, science, and medicine. These include the following:

Women in Flight


Women in Flight at UC is a student organization whose mission is to create a close network of students with interest in the aviation/aerospace industries and to provide support academically, professionally, and socially while promoting the future generation of female students in STEM fields. Our members come from a wide variety of engineering disciplines with a like mindset of unity and support within the organization. The contact for this group in Rachel Wiggins Additional information can be found at

Women in Medicine and Science (WIMS)

UC’s College of Medicine has a group entitled ‘Women in Medicine & Science (WIMS)’. This group is dedicated to the recruitment, advancement and retention of women faculty and trainees. Additional information on WIMS can be found at Dr. Heather Christensen is the current president. She can be reached at


Potential Partners

Partnerships and collaborations are predicted on both need and interest. The following is a growing list of potential collaborators with which our faculty and students can become engaged with in pursuit of their academic training and potential future initiatives.

Publications (2015 - Present)

Our faculty and students participate in a wide variety of disciplines which result in scholarly output, including edited books, book chapters, peer-reviewed manuscripts, federal reports, perspectives and editorials. This output is listed here as a key reference list to current and future researchers. It also highlights the broad knowledge base ensconced here at UC that can serve as an enabling tool for collaboration.

Student-Led Papers (Student's Name is underlined)

  1. Gilligan R, Cohen K. “Design of an All-Terrain Aerial Robotic Interface (ATARI) as a Collaborative Platform for UAVs”, AIAA Student Competition, Region III, Purdue University, IN, March 25-26, 2022, Winner of first place for best undergraduate student paper.
  2. Dunlap K, Mote M, Delsing K, Hobbs KL. Run Time Assured Reinforcement Learning for Safe Satellite Docking. AIAA SciTech Forum. San Diego, CA. January 2022.

Charles Doarn

  1. David JW, Doarn CR, Scheuring R, Polk JD. A History of the NASA Operational Flight Surgeon Activity: 1958 - Present. Acta Astronautica. 2023;202:252-64.
  2. OCHMO Mishap Investigation Flight Surgeon Handbook – NASA. Editors – JD Polk, CR Doarn. NASA SP-2020-5006891. NASA, Washington, DC.
  3. Book – Engineering, Life Sciences, and Health/Medicine Synergy in Aerospace Human Systems Integration. The Rosetta Stone Project. Editors. RS Williams and CR Doarn. NASA SP-2017-633. NASA, Washington DC. ISBN 978-1-62683-044-8.
  4. Book - Space Physiology and Medicine – from Evidence to Practice, 4th edition. Editors: A Nicogossian, CL Huntoon, RS Williams, CR Doarn, V Schneider, and JD Polk. 2016. Springer, New York. DOI-10.1007/978-1-4939-6652-3. ISBN 978-1-4939-6650-9 / e-book - ISBN 978-1-4939-6652-3
  5. Doarn CR, Shimada K, Shepanek M. The Legacy of the Wright State University Aerospace Medicine Residency Program. Aerosp Med Human Perf. 2021;92(9):744-50.
  6. Doarn CR, Polk JD, Grigoriev, Comtois J-M, Shimada K, Weerts G, Dervay JP, Taddeo TA, Sargsyan A. A Framework for Multinational Medical Support for International Space Station: A Model for Exploration. Aerosp Med Human Perf. 2021;92(2):129-34.
  7. Simpson AT, Doarn CR, Garber SJ. Interagency Cooperation in the Twilight of the Great Society: Telemedicine, NASA, and the Papago Nation. J Pol History 2020;32(1):25-51.
  8. Doarn CR. Polk JD, Shepanek M. Health Challenges Including Behavioral Problems in Long Duration Spaceflight. Neurol India. 2019;67(8):S190-95.
  9. Doarn CR, Travis TW, Currie-Gregg NK, Nicogossian AE, Weyland M, Shepanek M, Null C, Buckland D, Miller S, Liskowsky D, Fuller D, Francisco D, Walton M, Antonsen E, Rochlis J, Witt EG, Williams RS. Engineering, Life Sciences, and Health/Medicine Synergy in Aerospace Human Systems Integration: The Rosetta Stone Project: An Executive Summary. New Space. 2019;7(2):110-13. ePub – December 13, 2018

Ou Ma

  1. Alsamhi SH. Shvetsov AV, Guizani M, Ma O, Curry E. Blockchain-Empowered Security and Energy Efficiency of Drone Swarm Consensus for Environment Exploration. to appear in IEEE Transactions on Green Communications and Networking, 2022.
  2. Sun Y, Zhang L, Ma O. Force-Vision Sensor Fusion Improves Learning-based Approach for Self-Closing Door Pulling. IEEE Access. 2021;9. doi: 10.1109/ACCESS.2021.3118594.
  3. Barth A, Sun Y, Ma O. Genetic Fuzzy Based Method for Training Two Independent Robots to Perform a Cooperative Task. Intelligent Service Robotics. 2021;14:535-48,
  4. Alsamhi SH, Almalki F, Ma O, Ansari MS, Lee B. Predictive estimation of optimal signal strength from drones over IoT frameworks in smart cities. IEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing. 2021.
  5. Papadopoulos E, Aghili F, Ma O, Lampariello R. Robotic manipulation and capture in space: A survey. Frontiers in Robotics and AI. 2021:228
  6. Sathyan A, Cohen K, Ma O. Genetic fuzzy based scalable system of distributed robots for a collaborative task. Front Robot AI. 2020;7:601243.
  7. Zhang L, Sun Y, Barth A, Ma O. Decentralized Control of Multi-Robot System in Cooperative Object Transportation Using Deep Reinforcement Learning. IEEE Access.2020;8:184109-184119.
  8. Alsamhi SH, Ma O, Ansari MS, Almalki F. Survey on Collaborative Smart Drones and Internet of Things for Improving Smartness of Smart Cities. IEEE Access. 2019;7:128125-128152.
  9. Sathyan A, Cohen K, Ma O. Comparison Between Genetic Fuzzy Methodology and Q-Learning for Collaborative Control Design. Int J Artificial Intelligence Appl. 2019;10(2):.
  10. Flores-Abad A, Zhang L, Zheng W, Ma O. Optimal Capture of a Tumbling Object in Orbit Using a Space Manipulator. J Intelligent Robotic Syst. 2017;86(2):199–211.
  11. Flores-Abad A, Ma O, Pham K, Ulrich S. A Review of Robotics Technologies for On-Orbit Services. Progr Aerosp Sci. 2014;68:1-26.
  12. Flores-Abad A, Ma O, Zheng W, Pham K. Optimal Controller for a Space Robot with Uncertainties in the Boundary Conditions. J Guidance Control Dynamics. 2014;37(6):2014-2017.
  13. Ma O, Flores-Abad A, Boge T. Use of industrial robots for hardware-in-the-loop simulation of satellite rendezvous and docking. Acta Astronautica. 2012;81(1):335-47.
  14. Lu Q, Ortega C, Ma O. Passive gravity compensation mechanisms: technologies and applications. Recent Patents on Engineering. 2011;5(1):32-44.
  15. Ma O, Dang H, Pham K. On-orbit identification of inertia properties of spacecraft using a robotic arm. J Guidance Control Dynamics. 2008;31(6):1761-771.

Tomasz Stepinski

  1. Saeedimoghaddam M, Stepinski TF. Multiplicative random cascade models of multifractal urban structures. Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications. 2021;569:125767.
  2. Stepinski TF, Dmowska A. Complexity in patterns of racial segregation. Chaos Solitons Fractals. 2020;140:110207.
  3. Saeedimoghaddam M, Stepinski TF, Dmowska A. Renyi’s spectra of urban form for different modalities of input data. Chaos Solitons Fractals. 2020;139:109995.
  4. Dmowska A, Stepinski TF, Nowosad J. Racial landscapes – a pattern-based, zoneless method for analysis and visualization of racial topography. Appl Geograph. 2020;122:102239.
  5. Nowosad J, Stepinski TF. Information theory as a consistent framework for quantification and classification of landscape patterns. Landscape Ecol. 2019;34(9):2091-101.
  6. Nowosad J, Stepinski TF, Netzel P. Global assessment and mapping of changes in mesoscale landscapes: 1992–2015. Int J Appl Earth Observ Geoinformat. 2019:78:332-40.
  7. Nowosad J, Stepinski TF. Spatial association between regionalizations using the information-theoretical V-measure. Int J Geographic Inform Sci. 2018;32(12):2386-401.
  8. Nowosad J, Stepinski TF. Towards machine ecoregionalization of Earth's landmass using pattern segmentation method. Int J Appl Earth Observ Geoinformat. 2018;69:110-18.
  9. Netzel P, Stepinski TF. (2018) Climate Similarity Search - GeoWeb Tool for Exploring Climate Variability. Bull Amer Meteor Soc. 2018;99(3):475-77.
  10. Nowosad J, Stepinski TF. Global inventory of landscape patterns and latent variables of landscape spatial configuration. Ecolog Indicat. 2018;89:159-67.

Kelly Cohen

  1. Viaña J, Ralescu S, Ralescu A, Kreinovich V, Cohen K. Explainable Fuzzy Cluster-based Regression Algorithm with Gradient Descent Learning. Complex Engineering Systems. 2022;2:
  2. Viaña J, Badenas-Agusti M, Vanderburg A, Seager S, Blouin S, Dufour P, López- Morales M, Cohen K. Enhancing Explainability with the Proximity Awareness Algorithm”, Nature Machine Intelligence (based on completed PhD thesis to be submitted in Summer 2022 in collaboration with MIT Kavli Space Institute).
  3. Viaña J, Ralescu S, Cohen K, Ralescu A, Kreinovich V. Why Cauchy Membership Functions, Explainability. Advances in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. 2021;1(1):81-88.
  4. Gosian G, Cohen K. Sparse Requirements Systems Engineering and Implications for Assured Autonomy. J Defense Manag. 2021;11(6):No.
  5. Book - Explainable AI and Other Applications of Fuzzy Techniques. Eds: Julia Rayz, Victor Raskin, Scott Dick, and Vladik Kreinovich. Springer ISBN: 978-3-030-82099-2 
    Chapters –
    1. A Fuzzy Logic Approach for Spacecraft Landing Site Selection. Barth A, Cohen K, Ma O.
    2. Why Fuzzy Techniques in Explainable AI? Which Fuzzy Techniques in Explainable AI? Cohen K, Bokati L, Ceberio M, Kosheleva O, Kreinovich V.
    3. Comparing the Explainability and Performance of Reinforcement Learning and Genetic Fuzzy Systems for Safe Satellite Docking. Dunlap K, Cohen K, Hobbs K