Laboratory Director:

Dr. Kristina Lemmer is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Western Michigan University. She is an expert in both physical and non-intrusive plasma diagnostics, electric propulsion, and experimental plasma engineering. Her research interests include the following:

  • Experimetnal Plasmadynamics

  • Advanced Spacecraft Propulsion and Electric Propulsion

  • High Altitude Balloons

  • Plasma Diagnostic Development

  • Optical Emission Spectroscopy

  • Hypersonic Plasma Interactions

Dr. Lemmer is a recipient of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research's Young Investigator Program Award. She is also funded by the Air Force Research Laboratory's University Nanosatellite Program (UNP) and the National Science Foundation. Previously she has received funding from the NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate, and the Michigan Space Grant Consortium. In 2018, Dr. Lemmer participated in the Air Force Research Laboratory's Summer Faculty Fellowship Program where she researched nanosecond pulsed plasma discharges using Raman and Rayleigh scattering techniques. In 2012, she participated in the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Summer Faculty Research Program where she specialized in Hall thruster wall erosion measurements and diagnostics. She earned her Ph.D in Aerosapce Engineering from the University of Michigan in 2009 under Dr. Alec Gallimore at the Plasmadynamics and Electric Propulsion Laboratory.


Current Members

Dr. Nicholas Taylor is a research associate in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Western Michigan University. Dr. Taylor received his B.S. in chemistry from Winona State University in 2003 and his Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from the University of Florida in 2007 (advisor: James D. Winefordner). Dr. Taylor did post-doctoral fellowships at Brigham Young University (2008) and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (2012). He joined ALPE in 2016. 

Matthew Baird is a mechanical engineering Ph.D. student resarching oscillation modes in magnetically shielded Hall thrusters. He is a recepient of the NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship. Matthew enlisted in the United States Navy as a submariner in 2006 and is currently an active reservist. He has been working as a research assistant in ALPE since September 2014.

Margaret Mooney is an undergraduate student studying aerospace engineering. She is working on the Airborne Microbiome project developing a microcontroller based system to run the sampling and track the payload, both tethered and launched. Additionally, she is assisting in the construction of the payload and zero pressure balloons that will be used for the launched experiments.

Thomas Kerber is a first year graduate student in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at Western Michigan University. He received his B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from Western Michigan in 2017 and has completed internships in the electric propulsion groups of the Air Force Research Laboratory during 2017 and at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 2018. Thomas joined ALPE in 2015 and he is currently developing a research topic for his Ph.D.

Hannah Watts...

Ron McGee-Sinclair is...


Thesis: Atmospheric Community Sampling for Varying Altitude Collection

Status: Engineer at Southwest Research Institute


Andrew Hine

Thesis: An Exploration of CubeSat Propulsion

Status: Engineer at Helion Energy


Dissertation: Decomposition and Ionization of Ionic Liquids

Status: Instructor for Pathways Associate in Engineering at Guilford Technical  Community College in Jamestown, NC


Greg Neff
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