John D. Schmisseur joined the faculty of the University of Tennessee Knoxville Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering on August 1, 2014. He teaches and leads research at the University of Tennessee Space Institute.
Prior to joining the faculty, John was the Chief of the Energy, Power & Propulsion Sciences Division and Program Manager for Aerothermodynamics within the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR). During his tenure at AFOSR, John initiated and led a national strategic research plan which has guided the research efforts of multiple federal agencies, championed the transition of basic research capabilities that have advanced flagship national hypersonics technology programs and transformed test and evaluation capabilities, and envisioned the HIFiRE program which unifies the efforts of AFRL, NASA and the Australian DSTO to advance fundamental hypersonic science and technology via flight research. He is active within the professional community including having served as Chair of the AIAA Fluid Dynamics Technical Committee and a NATO Science and Technology Organisation working group. John earned his B.S. (1990) and M.S. (1992) in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and his Ph.D. (1997) in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Purdue University. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (2012) and the Air Force Research Laboratory (2013) and is the 2008 recipient of the Air Force Science and Engineering Award in Research Management.
Ragini Acharya joined the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering as an Associate Professor since August 1, 2020.
Ragini Acharya received her PhD in Mechanical Engineering from The Pennsylvania State University in 2008, followed by 2 years of post-doctoral research position and 10 years of industrial research positions. Prior to joining UTSI, Acharya has been a Hypersonic Propulsion Lead–Sr. Principal Engineer at Raytheon Missiles and Defense, Director of Hypersonic Technology at CFD Research Corporation, and a Senior Scientist at Raytheon Technologies Research Center. Acharya has been the principal investigator of multiple programs on Hypersonic and propulsion technologies, reacting flow modeling and computations, and uncertainty quantification method development. Her research has been funded by government agencies and industry including DARPA DSO, DARPA TTO, AFRL, NASA Langley, AMRDEC, MDA, and Raytheon Missile Systems. Acharya has co-authored two graduate-level textbooks on Turbulent and Multiphase Combustion (John Wiley& Sons) in addition to over 50 technical articles in peer-reviewed publications and technical conferences. Acharya is an AIAA Associate Fellow, a Pre-college Outreach Director for AIAA Greater Huntsville Section, and a member of High-Speed Air-Breathing Propulsion as well as Air Breathing Propulsion Integration Technical Committees at AIAA.
Phillip A. Kreth received his B.S. and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Florida State University (FSU) in 2008 and 2015, respectively. Prior to joining the faculty of UTSI in early 2016, he was an adjunct assistant professor and post-doctoral research associate at FSU in the fall of 2015. His expertise is in active flow control and actuator development, as well as advanced optical diagnostics of high-speed flows. Kreth oversaw the design and construction of UTSI’s new 24” × 24” Mach 4 Ludwieg Tube that is currently being commissioned. Additionally, he has implemented new diagnostic methods, including fast-response PSP (pressure sensitive paint) and time-resolved Schlieren/shadowgraphy (~1 MHz repetition rates) through the continued development of high-powered LEDs. Kreth is a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the American Physical Society.
Ryan Bond’s research area is Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD). Bond’s expertise is software and algorithms development for CFD, particularly for high temperature gas dynamics and thermochemistry relevant to hypersonic flows. Prior to joining UTSI, Bond spent 12 years at Sandia National Laboratories, 7 as R&D staff and 5 as a manager, and 2 years at Arnold Engineering Development Complex (AEDC). Bond holds bachelor’s degrees in Aerospace Engineering and Mathematics from Mississippi State University, a master’s and Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from North Carolina State University, and an M.B.A. from the University of New Mexico.
Mark Gragston received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from The University of Tennessee-Knoxville in 2018. His primary research focus is the development and application of laser and optical based techniques for examining high-speed fluid phenomena including the dynamics of boundary layers (e.g. transition & turbulence), shock-boundary layer interactions, thermochemistry, and more. Techniques utilized include PIV, PLIF, Raman/Rayleigh scattering, schlieren, FLDI, and others. Mark also has an interest in applying advanced image and data processing techniques to extract quantitative information from high-speed images. Furthermore, he is developing a Mach 6 wind tunnel to study aerodynamic heating, fluid-structure interactions, and to use as an intermediate platform for developing new diagnostics. He is a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the Optical Society, and the National Society of Black Engineers. Mark was awarded an AFOSR Summer Faculty Fellowship in 2020 and 2021.
Kaycee Edwards joined the University of Tennessee Space Institute in January 2014 as a service aide. She has worked in various departments in her time at UTSI before joining the Horizon group as the Business Manager in June 2019. As Business Manager, Kaycee handles all aspects of financial planning/forecasting, purchasing, and interfaces with sponsors on business operations. She has also helped with information security planning as dictated by ITAR protocols.
Before working with the Space Institute, Kaycee worked for Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg, TN as a student scholarship worker while attending Motlow State Community College.
Kaycee received her B.A. in Management and Human Relations from Trevecca Nazarene University in 2015 and is working towards obtaining her M.S. in Management.
Research Associate II
Kirk Davenport joined the staff of the University of the Tennessee Space Institute in July of 2018. In his role as Research Associate, he provides engineering and research support for both current and future Hypersonic facilities at the University of Tennessee Space Institute.
Before working with the Horizon group, Davenport helped to design and commission wind tunnels, test facilities and facility support systems for government, academic and commercial clients at Jacobs Technology. Prior to his time there, Kirk worked at Varian Medical Systems where he developed process documentation and test systems for prototype x-ray tube manufacturing. Kirk has also supported the University of Tennessee Space Institute previously in his career during two separate internships with the institute.
Davenport received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Utah where he served on the Undergraduate Student Advisory Committee and as a Tau Beta Pi officer. He has held membership in ASME and the Society for Science and the Public.
Post-Doctoral Research Associate
Cary joined HORIZON as a post-doctoral researcher after completing his Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville in late 2020. Cary has a Bachelor’s in Aerospace Technology from Middle Tennessee State University and a Bachelor’s in Aerospace Engineering of UT. He participated in the AFRL Summer Scholars program at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico during 2017 and was a winner of the Walter Lempert Paper Award present by the AMT Technical Committee of AIAA. He was also given the MABE Outstanding Graduate Student Award in 2020.
Post-Doctoral Research Associate
Farhan Siddiqui joined the HORIZON group in December of 2021 after completing his Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M University. His Ph.D. research focused on understanding the impacts wall cooling and discrete roughness have on hypersonic boundary layer transition. He has experience with a number of measurement techniques including hot-wire probes, focused schlieren imaging, and focused laser differential interferometry (FLDI). He is currently supporting efforts to understand the dynamics associated with transitional and turbulent shockwave-boundary layer interactions.
Post-Doctoral Research Associate
Ken joined the HORIZON team in 2021. He has completed Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering at BYU and obtained a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in 2019. Prior to his Ph.D., he worked for the U.S. Air Force as a mechanical engineer. Ken currently supports a number of experimental activities in our Mach 4 and Mach 7 facilities.
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