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

  • Current research is focused on developing low-cost thermal energy storage system for concentrating solar power plants
  • Received his PhD in 2013 from Virginia Tech
  • Awarded the Edward H. Cahill Memorial Scholarship award in 2011

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

Graduate Students

Ph.D. Candidate, Cota Robles Fellow

  • 6th year graduate student in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at UCLA
  • Received her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Aerospace Engineering from UCLA in 2010 and 2012, respectively
  • Has conducted research at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

Ph.D. Candidate, NSF Graduate Research Fellow

  • 6th year doctoral student majoring in aerospace engineering at UCLA
  • Previously worked at Space Exploration Technologies as a propulsion engineer
  • Received his B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from Ohio University in 2006

Ph.D. Candidate, Cota Robles Fellow

  • 6th year graduate student at UCLA majoring in Aerospace Engineering
  • Awarded the Eugene v. Cota Robles Fellowship
  • Current research effort is focused on computational modeling of plasma-material interactions

Ph.D. Candidate, NDSEG Fellow

  • 4th year graduate student majoring in Aerospace Engineering at UCLA
  • Graduated from UC Berkeley with a double major in Astrophysics and Physics in 2014
  • Currently studying transport phenomena in miniature ring-cusp ion thrusters

Ph.D. Candidate, NASA Space Technology Research Fellow

  • 3rd year graduate student in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at UCLA
  • Attained Aerospace Engineering B.S. in 2014 from Auburn University
  • Currently investigating plasma generation techniques for nonintrusive diagnostics

Ph.D candidate, MAE Fellow

  • 2nd year graduate student majoring in Mechanical Engineering.
  • 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

  • 2nd year graduate student majoring in Aerospace Engineering at UCLA
  • 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

  • 2nd year graduate student in the department of aerospace and mechanical engineering at UCLA
  • Obtained B.S in mechanical engineering at Purdue University in 2015
  • Currently investigating system performance of sulfur-based thermal energy storage system

Graduate Student, GSR

  • 1st year graduate student majoring in Mechanical Engineering
  • Graduated from UCLA with B.S. in Mechanical Engineering in 2016
  • Current research efforts are focused on life testing, thermal analysis, and pressure-temperature characteristics of sulfur.

Graduate Student, GSR

  • 1st year graduate student in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at UCLA
  • 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

  • 1st year graduate student in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at UCLA
  • Received his B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Boston University in 2013
  • Researched electrospray propulsion while at Busek Co. Inc.

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

Shivali Gowda

Christos Voutsaras

Charvi Aggarwal

Cheney Mao

Ethan Ely

John Hayes

Cyril Nader

Alumni

Ben Dankongkakul

Ph.D. 2017

Research Scientist, Air Force Research Lab

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

Phillip Chiu

Ph.D. 2017

Aerodynamics Research Engineer, Envision Energy

Thesis topic: Aerodynamics and design of biplane wind turbine blades

Louis Tse

Ph.D. 2016

Thermal engineer, JPL

Thesis topic: Thermodynamic Modeling of Thermal Energy Storage Systems Using Novel Storage Media

Ryan Conversano

Ph.D. 2015

Technologist, Electric Propulsion Group, JPL

Thesis topic: Low-Power Magnetically Shielded Hall Thrusters

Samuel Jun Araki

Ph.D. 2014

Computational Scientist, Air Force Research Laboratory

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

Perry Roth-Johnson

Ph.D. 2014

Air and Space Exhibit Researcher, California Science Center

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

Hann-Shin Mao

Ph.D. 2012

Postdoctoral Scholar, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

Thesis Topic: DC plasma discharges for plasma propulsion applications

Parker Wells

M.S. 2017

CEO, Element 16 Technologies

Mitchell Shinn

M.S. 2016

Romeo Power

Lauren Chu

M.S. 2014

JPL