Colin Pavan

Colin is a postdoc working jointly in the Aerospace Materials and Structures Laboratory (AMSL) and the Aerospace Plasma Group (APG). He has a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Waterloo (2017), and an SM & PhD in Aeronautics and Astronautics from MIT (2019, 2023). His research interests are in non-thermal plasmas and their applications, particularly in the field of plasma assisted combustion. His research is based on both experiments and simulation, with a focus on developing reduced order models to capture complicated physical processes. He has previously worked for Boeing Research and Technology investigating electrostatic ignition hazard mitigation in composite aircraft and participated in a MISTI research program to study aircraft triggered lightning protection at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia.

Graduate Students

Fayleon Lin

Fayleon is a 1st year SM student. He did his undergraduate studies at Johns Hopkins University (2023), majoring in Mechanical Engineering and Mathematics. During his time there, he worked with Prof. Joseph Katz and Prof. Rui Ni, and acquired some experience in particle image velocimetry (PIV), holography, and non-reactive fluid mechanics. In the APG, he is currently working on a project that involves using PIV to track the flow field around an electrical discharge to better understand how the flow around the discharge might affect it. In his free time, he likes to draw, play Pokemon Go, fold origami with OrigaMIT, spin staff with MIT Spinning Arts Club, and play Minecraft until 2am with his friends from undergrad… (totally not the reason why he hates 9 am classes).

Lanie McKinney

Lanie is a 2nd year AeroAstro SM student. She is originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she attended the University of Tulsa earning dual BS degrees in Physics and Applied Mathematics (2022). Her research interests are directed towards developing non-thermal plasma technologies that engender future space exploration. She is currently working on modeling and building a proof-of concept plasma-assisted CO2 conversion reactor for applications to Mars ISRU/life-support and Earth-based carbon capture technology. In addition, she is a recipient of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship in Plasma physics. In her free time, Lanie enjoys playing lacrosse, weightlifting, taking night-sky photos, and writing music.

Lee Strobel

Lee is a 3rd year AeroAstro PhD student. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees in Aerospace Engineering from Cambridge University and recently worked as a senior engineer in the oil and gas industry. His research interests include fundamentals of streamers and other atmospheric plasma discharges, as well as numerical modeling. Personal interests include rock music, traveling and spending time with his family and two children.

Raphaël Jean Dijoud

Raphaël is a 1st year AeroAstro PhD student. He came from the Centrale Supélec engineering school in Paris, France. He joined the APG in 2021, earned his SM in 2023, and started research on plasma-assisted combustion for aircraft applications. His research interests are numerical modeling of complex physical phenomena requiring a multi-fields approach. In particular, he is motivated in improving combustion processes and thermal management in aerospace propulsion. He is currently working on non-thermal plasmas, and chemical-fluid interactions in electric discharges. He has previously worked in aerospace thermal management in various structures, including the start-up Blue Spirit Aero, the aircraft engines manufacturer Safran, and at the French National Research Center.

Samuel Austin

Sam is a 2nd year AeroAstro PhD student working jointly in the APG and the Aerospace Computational Design Laboratory (ACDL). He holds bachelor's and master's degrees in aerospace engineering also from MIT (2020 and 2022). His research interests are in the computational modeling of aircraft triggered lightning and its direct effects, including sparking and ignition hazards. Previously, he has investigated physics-based approaches to aircraft zoning and the extension of numerical zoning tools to unconventional aircraft. He has previously worked for Northrop Grumman, SpaceX, and Impulse Space.

Sankarsh Rao

Sankarsh is a 1st year AeroAstro SM student. He is from Austin, TX and received a BS in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. His current research involves experiments that study nanosecond repetitively pulsed discharges (NRPDs) applied to combustion environments to better understand how plasmas affect combustion and vice versa. He is motivated by improving aerospace propulsion systems and has experience working on propulsion & fluids systems at Blue Origin and Raytheon. Personal interests include wrestling/grappling sports, eating Texas-sized meals, teaching yoga, and playing jazz guitar :).

Nathanael Jenkins

Nathanael is an AeroAstro exchange student from Imperial College London, in his final year of study towards a masters’ degree. With the help of supercomputers in the UK and the USA, he is developing a computational model for the ’swept stroke’ phase of aircraft lightning strikes. A modelling and simulation aficionado, he has previously worked for MBDA Missile Systems and conducted research in high-performance heterogeneous computing at Imperial College. In his spare time, he has broken UK rocketry altitude records with ICL Rocketry’s Altitude Record Team and now enjoys exploring New England with the MIT Outing Club.


Claire Johnson

(AeroAstro 2024,

Ariel K. Mobius

(AeroAstro 2024,

Nicholas Laws

(Mech. Engineering 2024,

Zen Chi Ho Sang

(AeroAstro 2025,

Owen K. Matteson

(AeroAstro 2025,

Gabriella McDonald

(AeroAstro 2024,

APG Administrative Assistant

Andrés Forero

APG Visiting Student Alumni

Sankarsh Rao

The University of Texas (Austin), 2022

Pol Fontanes

Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), 2019, 2022

Hector Candela

Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), 2022

Michele Urbani

Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), 2019


Jose Betances


Grace Mao


Ethan Sit


Xavier Bell


Sharil Maredia


Devin Johnson


Thomas Edelman


Matthew H. Clingerman


Matthew C. Campbell


Tyler C. Worthley


Sean Parks