Office of Research Team Research Forum: Space Exploration - Office of Research

Team Research Forum: Space Exploration

Join the Office of Research on February 9th from 10:30am – 12:00pm for a showcase of space exploration-related work at UC Davis, and an invitation for collaboration.  Hear from researchers whose work is advancing space exploration and mankind’s ability to both survive and thrive both on and off our planet.


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steve robinson standing next to a planeStephen K. Robinson, Ph.D.
Director, UC Davis Center for Spaceflight Research
Director, UC Davis Human/Robotic/Vehicle Integration and Performance Lab
Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Before joining the faculty at the University of California, Davis in 2012, Stephen Robinson spent 37 years at NASA, where he worked as an engineer, research scientist, and astronaut. Robinson is now a tenured professor in the UC Davis Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department and serves as the Director of the UC Davis Center for Spaceflight Research and the UC Davis Human/Robotic/Vehicle Integration and Performance Lab.

During his 17 years as a NASA Astronaut, Robinson flew on four space shuttle missions, including three spacewalks. Robinson is a UC Davis alumnus in Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering (double B.S., 1978) and received M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Stanford University in Mechanical and Aero/Astro Engineering (1986, 1990).


janine mosesJanine Moses
Graduate Student, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Lab Manager, Human/Robotics/Vehicle Integration and Performance Lab

Janine is pursuing a M.S. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and is part of the Human, Robotics, Vehicle Integration and Performance (HRVIP) Lab at the UC Davis Center for Spaceflight Research. Her research focuses on thermal cooling for small spacecraft: Ice Sublimation for Cubesat Heat REjection Amid Microgravity (I-SCHREAM). Janine is also the HRVIP lab manager, which enables her to organize lab-wide activities, welcome new members, and make connections to build a greater sense of lab community.

Janine is a NASA Pathways intern and has spent time at Goddard Space Flight Center, supporting the Nancy Roman Space Telescope. She has also interned at Johnson Space Center where she had the opportunity to scuba dive in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab during astronaut training, as well as at the Jet Propulsion Lab supporting the Europa Clipper spacecraft.


rebecca lybrand portraitRebecca Lybrand
Associate Professor, Land, Air and Water Resources

Dr. Lybrand specializes in pedology, soil mineralogy, and the study of soil-landscape relationships under contrasting environmental conditions. Dr. Lybrand’s research program provides new perspectives on the interplay of soils, climate, and landscape evolution through 1) hillslope to nanoscale investigations of soil biogeochemistry and mineral weathering in the Critical Zone, with a specific emphasis on 2) quantitative pedological studies in the western US.


zhoadan kong portraitZhaodan Kong
Associate Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Zhaodan Kong is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. He is also affiliated with the Center for Spaceflight Research and the Center for Neuroengineering and Medicine. His research focuses on robotics, human-autonomy teaming, neuroengineering, and their applications in human spaceflight and other fields. In particular, he is interested in enabling autonomous systems to coordinate and collaborate with humans in safety-critical missions, such as deep space exploration, via explainable artificial intelligence (XAI) and cognitive state inference. His work on human-autonomy teaming is currently funded by NASA, NSF, and AFOSR.


sanjay joshi portraitSanjay Joshi
Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Director, Robotics, Autonomous Systems, and Controls Laboratory

Sanjay Joshi is Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of California, Davis, where he directs the Robotics, Autonomous Systems, and Controls Laboratory. Dr. Joshi received a BS from Cornell University in 1990, and MS/PhD from UCLA in 1992/1996, all in Electrical Engineering. After his doctoral work, he became a member of the technical staff at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California working on control systems and robotics. During his time at JPL, Dr. Joshi developed part of the control system that flew aboard the NASA Deep Space One mission.  In addition, he worked on research and development for future space observatories and robotic tasks for Mars exploration. At UC Davis, Dr. Joshi’s laboratory has continued to work on space applications including spacecraft control systems, supernumerary robotics, and astronaut-robot teaming. He is a member of the NASA-funded Habitats Optimized for Missions of Exploration (HOME) Space Technology Institute, working on human-machine cooperation. In related applications, in 2014, Dr. Joshi formed the UC Davis Neuroengineering and Medicine Initiative, which led to the UC Davis Center for Neuroengineering and Medicine. From 2020-2022, he served as one of the founding Co-Directors of this center.


rich whittle portraitRich Whittle
Assistant Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Dr. Rich Whittle leads the Bioastronautics and eXploration Systems (BXS) Laboratory, having joined the UC Davis Center for Space Flight Research (CSFR) in July 2023. The lab aims to understand the physiological changes the space environment induces in the human body and to develop tools, technologies, and countermeasures to facilitate operations and minimize risk in human spaceflight.

Rich completed his Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M University. His doctoral research focused on understanding and characterizing physiological changes in altered-gravity environments, in particular changes on the cardiovascular system during spaceflight, the effect of countermeasures including Lower Body Negative Pressure (LBNP) and short radius centrifugation, and the relationship to spaceflight associated neuro-ocular syndrome (SANS).

He previously served as an airborne infantry officer (including operational service in Helmand Province, Afghanistan), and later an engineering officer, in the British Army from 2009 to 2023.


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