People

Wirz Research Group Photo

Director

Associate Professor, Aerospace Engineering

  • Director of the UCLA Plasma & Space Propulsion Laboratory and the UCLA Energy Innovation Laboratory
  • M.S. and Ph.D. degree in Aeronautics and Applied Sciences from Caltech
  • B.S. in Aerospace Engineering and a B.S. in Ocean Engineering from Virginia Tech

Postdocs

Postdoctoral Researcher - Energy

  • Currently working in Energy Innovation Lab on the thermal energy storage effort, focusing on demonstrating the technology at test site
  • Received his PhD from the University of Florida
  • Received his Bachelor's degree from Pune University

Postdoctoral Researcher – Plasma

  • Currently working in Plasma & Space Propulsion Lab on the Plasma-Material Interactions
  • Received PhD in Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering from The George Washington University
  • Received Master’s degree in Engineering Mechanics from Chinese Academy of Sciences

Graduate Students

Ph.D. Candidate, Cota Robles Fellow

  • Awarded the Eugene v. Cota Robles Fellowship
  • Current research effort is focused on computational modeling of plasma-material interactions

Ph.D. Candidate, NDSEG Fellow

  • Graduated from UC Berkeley with a double major in Astrophysics and Physics in 2014
  • Currently studying the erosion processes of plasma-facing microarchitectured materials

Ph.D. Candidate, NASA Space Technology Research Fellow

  • Attained Aerospace Engineering B.S. in 2014 from Auburn University
  • Currently developing MiXI thruster under NSTRF fellowship

Ph.D candidate, MAE Fellow

  • Received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Tsinghua University in 2015.
  • Currently working on thermofluidic characterization of sulfur based thermal energy storage.

Graduate Student, GSR

  • Graduated from Rutgers University with a double major in Mechanical Engineering and Astrophysics in 2016
  • Current research effort focused on electrospray thrusters

Ph.D. candidate, GSR

  • Obtained B.S in mechanical engineering at Purdue University in 2015
  • Currently investigating system performance of sulfur-based thermal energy storage system

Graduate Student, NASA Space Technology Research Fellow

  • Received his B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Boston University in 2013
  • Researched electrospray propulsion while at Busek Co. Inc.

Graduate Student, GSR

  • Graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering in 2012
  • Researched Field-Reversed Configuration (FRC) propulsion and Hall Thruster facility interactions while at the Air Force Research Laboratory

Graduate Student, GSR

  • Received her B.S. degree in Physics and Math from Rhodes College in 2018
  • Working in Electrospray

Graduate Student, GSR

  • Received his B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Sogang University in 2015
  • Current research effort focused on computational modeling of electrospray propulsion

Graduate Student, GSR

  • Graduated from Cal State Northridge with a B.S. in physics
  • Researched diagnostics for beam driven field reversed configuration experiment C-2W while working at TAE Technologies (formerly Tri Alpha Energy)

Collaborators

Adrienne Lavine

Professor, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, UCLA

Benjamin Jorns

Assistant Professor, University of Michigan

Dan Goebel

Senior Research Scientist, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Gani Ganapathi

Principal Scientist, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Mario Merino Martínez

Assistant Professor, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

Miguel Garcia-Garibay

Professor, Chair, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, UCLA

Nasr Ghoniem

Professor, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, UCLA

Pirouz Kavehpour

Professor, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, UCLA

Reza Baghaei Lakeh

Assistant Professor, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

Ryudo Tsukizaki

Assistant Professor, JAXA Institute of Space and Astronautical Science

Undergraduate Students

Ian Fox

5th Year Aerospace Engineering Major

David Lu

4th Year Aerospace Engineering Major

Emma Peavler

3rd Year Astrophysics Major

Audrey Tu

Ahmad Hafizuddin

2nd Year Electrical Engineering Major

Daniel Ahn

3rd Year Aerospace Engineering Major

Chris Lambert

2nd Year Aerospace Engineering Major

Juan-Pablo Almanza-Soto

3rd Year Aerospace Engineering Major

Oliver Fields

4th Year Aerospace Engineering Major

Nathan Long

4th Year Aerospace Engineering Major

Andrew Evans

3rd Year Aerospace Engineering Major

Ph.D. (Alumni)

Chris Dodson

Ph.D. 2018

Postdoctoral Fellow, Swiss Plasma Center

Thesis: Ion Heating in Hollow Cathode Plumes

Marlene Patino

Ph.D. 2017

Postdoctoral Fellow, UCSD Center for Energy Research

Thesis: Plasma inter-particle and particle-wall interactions

Ben Dankongkakul

Ph.D. 2017

Research Scientist, Air Force Research Lab

Thesis: Overcoming the Scaling Limitations of Ring-Cusp DC Ion Thruster Discharges

Phillip Chiu

Ph.D. 2017

Aerodynamics Research Engineer, Envision Energy

Thesis: Aerodynamics and design of biplane wind turbine blades

Gabriela Bran-Anleu

Ph.D. 2016

R&D S&E, Mechanical Engineering, Sandia National Laboratories

Thesis topic: Complex Heat Exchangers for Improved Performance

Ryan Conversano

Ph.D. 2015

Technologist, Electric Propulsion Group, JPL

Thesis: Low-Power Magnetically Shielded Hall Thrusters

Samuel Jun Araki

Ph.D. 2014

Computational Scientist, Air Force Research Laboratory

Thesis: Multi-Scale Multi-Species Modeling for Plasma Devices

Perry Roth-Johnson

Ph.D. 2014

Assistant Curator, Aerospace Science | California Science Center

Thesis: Aero-structural design investigations for biplane wind turbine blades.

Hann-Shin Mao

Ph.D. 2012

Postdoctoral Scholar, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

Thesis: DC plasma discharges for plasma propulsion applications