Dr. Christine Hartzell

hartzell at umd.edu
Office: 3178 Martin Hall
Phone: 301-405-4647
Christine Hartzell joined the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Maryland as Assistant Professor in February 2014 and was promoted to Associate Professor in July 2020. She completed her PhD in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder, under the direction of Dan Scheeres. Her thesis research topic was electrostatic dust levitation above asteroids and the Moon. Prior to coming to UMD, she was a Keck Institute for Space Studies Postdoctoral Fellow at Caltech, where she studied granular mechanics. She completed her undergraduate work in Aerospace Engineering at Georgia Tech. In her spare time, Dr. Hartzell enjoys riding horses, downhill skiing (on the West coast), traveling, cooking and spending time with her cat.

Postdoctoral Researchers

Dr. Cecily Sunday

Awards: Zonta International Amelia Earhart Fellowship, ISAE-SUPAERO Best Ph.D. Thesis
Bio: Cecily completed her Ph.D. at the Institut Supérieur de l'Aéronautique et de l'Espace (ISAE-SUPAERO) in 2022. She received a M.S. in Aeronautical and Space Systems from ISAE-SUPAERO and a B.S. Mechanical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. Cecily also worked as a Robotics Engineer at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory designing and testing sampling systems for planetary exploration missions. Her current research focuses on dust entrainement in lunar lander plumes. In her free time, Cecily enjoys traveling, reading and cooking with her husband and son.

Graduate Students

Melissa Buys

2nd Year PhD Student
Awards: Fulbright Fellow, South Africa
Bio: Melissa completed her B.S. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Pretoria. Her current research focuses on understanding triboelectric charging of rovers on the Moon. Melissa enjoys hiking, writing poetry and finding obscure coffee shops in her free time.

Ian DesJardin

3nd Year PhD Student
Awards: DOE Computational Science Graduate Fellowship, UMD Flagship Fellowship
Bio: Ian Completed a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering and a B.A. in Math at SUNY-Buffalo. Ian's research focuses on computational simulations of the plasma signature produced by small orbital debris, enabling new detection methods. Ian enjoys hiking, trivia, and hanging out with his cat.

Eric Frizzell

6th Year PhD Student
Awards: NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, 2017 SSPI Award, Clark Fellowship
Bio: Eric completed a B.S. in Economics from the University of Michigan and worked for a few years prior to pursuing his passion for aerospace. Eric completed a second B.S. in Aerospace Engineering at UMD and decided to stay for his PhD. Eric's research focuses on using LIGGGHTS to computationally model granular dilation surrounding lunar craters. Eric's hobbies include reading, running and learning to play the guitar.

Charles Pett

5th Year PhD Student
Awards: 2021 SSPI Award for Most Innovative Technology, NASA Pathways
Bio: Charles completed his B.S. in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Florida. As an undergrad, Charles worked on clearing dust off of solar panels on Earth. Now, he's applying his dust knowledge to planetary science applications - developing a new method to measure cohesion on asteroids. In his spare time, Charles enjoys gardening, trying new foods, dancing and spending time with his cat and dog.

Anmol Sikka

3rd Year PhD Student
Bio: Anmol completed his B.Tech and M.Tech in Aerospace Engineering from IIT Bombay, India, where he also led the student satellite team. He uses LIGGGHTS (an open-source DEM code) to make predictions about the effect of magnetic forces in avalanching of granular materials. In his spare time, Anmol likes writing his blog, reading fiction and watching movies.

Connor Wilson

2nd Year MS Student
Bio: Connor completed his B.S. in Aerospace Engineering at Penn State. After graduating, Connor worked at Raytheon for 5 years prior to pursuing his MS. Connor's thesis focuses on looking for evidence of plasma solitons produced by orbital debris in existing, ground-based ionospheric plasma density observations. Connor spends his free time cooking, practicing music, playing board games, and hiking.

Jonathan Wrieden

1st Year PhD Student
Bio: Jonathan completed his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering with a focus in Aeronautics at the United States Military Academy at West Point in 2010. After graduating, Jonathan served on active duty for six years in the Army as an Infantry Officer. Then he worked for Otis Elevator Company as a Construction Superintendent for six years. Now Jonathan is pursuing his PhD and is researching plasma soliton generation as a method of orbital debris detection. In his spare time, he enjoys rock climbing, backpacking, kayaking, skydiving, boxing, and playing the drums.

Lab Alumni - Postdocs

Yun Zhang

Current Position: Postdoctoral Scholar, University of Michigan

Lab Alumni - PhD

Thomas Leps

PhD, Dec 2021, Defended from the South Pole
Thesis Title: Simulation of Magnetic Granular Media Using Open Source Soft Sphere Discrete Element Method
Current Position: NSF Overwinter Lead for BICEP Array at South Pole

Jackson Shannon

PhD, May 2021, NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship
Thesis Title: Selected Problems in Many-Revolution Trajectory Optimization Using Q-Law
Current Position: Trajectory Design Engineer, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab

Alexis Truitt

PhD, May 2020, Director of National Intelligence Science and Technology Fellowship
Thesis Title: Characteristics of Plasma Solitons Produced by Small Orbital Debris
Current Position: Department of Defense

Dylan Carter

PhD, Dec 2019, NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship
Thesis Title: Modeling and Experimental Measurement of Triboelectric Charging in Dielectric Granular Mixtures
Current Position: Systems Engineer, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab

Anthony DeCicco

PhD, July 2018, NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship
Thesis Title: Asteroid Control via Neutral Beam Emitting Spacecraft
Current Position: Future Technical Leaders Program, Northrup Grumman

Lab Alumni - MS with Thesis

Grace Zimmerman

MS, May 2023
Thesis Title: An Assessment of Aerogravity-Assisted Trajectories for Aerocapture at the Ice Giants
Current Position: Spacecraft Navigation Engineer, JHU-APL

Anand Patel

MS, May 2020
Thesis Title: A Model to Predict the Size of 3D Regolith Clumps on Planetary Bodies
Current Position: Lunar Gateway Spacecraft Autonomous Systems - Planning and Optimization Engineer, CACI (NASA Johnson)

Teddy Levine

MS, Dec 2016
Thesis Title: The Effects of Tidal Forces on the Minimum Energy Configurations of the Full Three-Body Problem Link to Thesis
Current Position: Controls Engineer, Relative Dynamics (NASA Goddard)