Leadership and Members

Center Director

  • Paul DesJardin.
    Paul DesJardin, PhD
    PhD, Purdue University

    336 Jarvis Hall

    Phone: (716) 645-1467

    ped3@buffalo.edu

    Professor
    Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
    School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
    Director
    Center for Hybrid Rocket Exascale Simulation Technology (CHREST)
    Director
    Combustion and Energy Transport Laboratory (CET)

    Research Interests: Multiphase reacting flows; propulsion; fire and combustion; computational fluid dynamics; fluid- structure simulation

Co-Principal Investigators

Professors of Research

Director of Diversity

Software Framework Architect

Matt.
Matthew McGurn

Matthew has focused his career upon the development of complex simulation frameworks and required interfaces to allow these powerful tools to be used by a wide variety of people. Holding his PhD in Mechanical Engineering (2013) from the University at Buffalo, he is well versed in the mathematics, physics, and software programming methods associated with CFD and FE based formulations. He is experienced in developing models using a wide variety of frameworks and languages including full web stack, modern software methods, and developing new computational methods/tools.

mtmcgurn@buffalo.edu

Postdoctoral Researcher

Georgios.
Georgios Georgalis

Georgios is a Data Scientist at Tufts University. As part of CHREST, he is primarily focusing on introducing uncertainty quantification to machine learning and building surrogate models for large scale simulations. Georgios earned his PhD from the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Purdue University. He has a Master's degree from Purdue University and an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA). His doctoral research included the development of a crowd-based prototype to predict future project failures using machine learning and human analytics, he also investigated whether targeted feedback helps in preventing such failures. He has previously worked with jet engines, rocket propulsion systems, and on an experiment that flew on Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket to space.

Research focus: AI methodology and fundamentals of rocket propulsion.

Georgios.Georgalis@tufts.edu

Students

Kenneth.
Kenneth Budzinski

Kenny is a 3rd Year PhD student in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering department under the advisement of Dr. Paul DesJardin. Kenny received his masters in Aerospace Engineering at UB in 2019 and his Bachelors in Physics in 2017.

Research Focus: Extending current Boundary Layer combustion theory to couple in detailed radiation models that can simulate the burning regimes inside a hybrid rocket engine. Application of the developed model as a near-wall LES model which will be validated using small/large - scale experiments.

klbudzin@buffalo.edu

Albert.
Albert Cowie

Albert is a 3rd year Ph.D. student in the Computer Science and Engineering Department under the advisement of Dr. Matthew Knepley. In his prior education he received a B.A. from Canisius College in Economics with concentration in Finance and Minors in Applied Mathematics and Classics and received an M.D. from UB.

Research focus: High performance and scientific computing, specifically efficient scaling of numerical solutions to partial differential equations.

arcowie@buffalo.edu

Venus.
Venus Amiri

Venus is a 2nd year PhD student in the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department under the advisement of Dr. Mark Swihart. Venus received a Master’s of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from UB in 2018. She holds a Bachelor’s of Engineering (Hons.) in Electronics majoring in Nanotechnology from Multimedia University. During her undergraduate studies, she worked on electrochemical properties of carbon nanotubes and graphene oxide. After joining UB, Venus began her research in the field of computational fluid dynamics with the main focus on numerical modeling of droplet-based microfluidics.

Research focus: Detailed chemical kinetic modeling of paraffin-oxygen combustion. Characterization of uncertainty in state-of-the-art soot models with generation of comprehensive reaction mechanisms for paraffin hydrocarbon waxes.

venoosam@buffalo.edu

Darsh.
Darsh Nathawani

Darsh is a 2nd year PhD student in Computational and Data Enabled Science and Engineering under the advisement of Dr. Matthew Knepley. Darsh received a Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Gujarat Technological University, India in 2017 and received a Master’s degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering from UB in 2019. During his Master’s thesis, Darsh conducted a research in the design exploration of solar updraft towers.

Research focus: Develop scalable simulations of the low Mach flow using PETSc. Mathematical modeling and simulations of the droplet formation under various external forcing, like gravity, shear force, etc.

darshkir@buffalo.edu

Mae.
Mae Sementilli

Mae is a 2nd year PhD student and a native of Western New York, currently pursuing her Doctorate in mechanical engineering with a concentration in computational and applied mechanics under advisor Dr. James Chen. Mae earned a Master's of Science degree in aerospace engineering at UB in 2019, and graduated Magna Cum Laude with Bachelor's of Science degrees in mechanical and aerospace engineering from UB in 2017.  During her undergraduate studies, Mae conducted research in bio-inspired fluid mechanics and now focuses on the interfacial instability and droplet formation.

Research focus: Develop simulations of all thermal, mechanical, and dynamic aspects of the hybrid rocket engine fuel burn. Model small-scale experiments in collaboration with the experimental team.

maesemen@buffalo.edu

Dwyer.
Dwyer Deighan

Dwyer is a 1st year PhD student in the CDSE/CSE PhD program with a Master's in Data Science. Dwyer has been programming independently since he was 15. His interests and personal projects have been very broad ranging from computer graphics/OCR, cyber security, networking, and AI. When he entered college he decided to specialize in AI and Data Science, while also deepening his understanding of advanced mathematics. He has since worked as a data science intern at Brown University and on a physics/AI project funded jointly by NASA and MIT as an undergraduate. Now he has graduated with Suma Cum Laude honors for his Master's and has recently wrote another publication which is under review.

dwyerdei@buffalo.edu

Mengyuan.
Mengyuan Sun

Mengyuan is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Mechanical and Aerospace engineering department under the advisement of Dr. James Chen. Mengyuan received his Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering and Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics with Summa Cum Laude from UB in 2021. During his undergraduate studies, he conducted research in both morphing blade development/simulations for wind turbines and data science analysis via multi-layer network models. 

Research focus: Developing computational fluid mechanics models for interfacial instability and droplet formation under turbulent conditions.

msun23@buffalo.edu

Amol Salunkhe.
Amol Salunkhe

Amol is currently pursuing his PhD in Computer Science/Computational Data Science Engineering. Amol holds a Master's in Operations Research from the University at Buffalo and has 18 years of work experience as a computer scientist/data scientist. His primary advisors are Dr. Varun Chandola and Dr. Paul Desjardin.

Research focus: Develop reduced order models using Physics Inspired Manifold Learning and Deep Generative Models  for reduced order modeling.

aas22@buffalo.edu

Gabriel.
Gabriel Surina III

Gabriel is a 2nd year Master's student in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department under the advisement of Dr. Paul DesJardin. Gabriel received his Bachelor's in mechanical and aerospace engineering from UB in 2019 and plans to continue at UB for his PhD in aerospace engineering. During his undergraduate studies, Gabriel was the lead for the UB rocketry team which participates in the IREC: Spaceport America Cup.

Research focus: Develop experiments that allow the simulations and models to be validated by point and field measurements of the burning fuel. Develop and utilize various diagnostics to acquire qualitative and quantitative measurements. Some of the diagnostics include Schlieren, two-color pyrometry, thermocouples, heat flux gauges, thin skin calorimetry, high speed photography, chemiluminescence, and thermogravimetric analysis.

gsurina@buffalo.edu

Luis.
Luis Llanos

Luis is a 2nd year Master's student in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department under the advisement of Dr. Paul Desjardin. Luis received a Bachelor's degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering from UB in 2020. During his undergraduate studies, Luis was part of the UB rocketry team which participates in the IREC: Spaceport America Cup.

Research Focus: Investigating linear instability over paraffin wax in relation to the required mass flux necessary for effective regression rates.

luisllan@buffalo.edu

Jacob.
Jacob Henry

Jacob is a 2nd year Master’s student in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department under the advisement of Dr. Paul DesJardin. Jacob received his Bachelor’s in aerospace engineering with a minor in Mathematics from UB in 2020. During his undergraduate studies, Jacob was the structures lead and team lead for the UB rocketry team which participates in the IREC: Spaceport America Cup.

Research focus: Develop bench-scale hybrid rocket motor for prototyping while working towards goal of a full-scale motor capable of launching a sounding rocket to 10,000 feet altitude. Collect qualitative and quantitative data to provide for model validation on varying motor sizes. 

jjhenry@buffalo.edu

James.
James Bilello

James is a 2nd year Master's student in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department under the advisement of Dr. Paul Desjardin. James graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor's in aerospace engineering from UB in 2019 with a previous Bachelor's in mathematics from Geneseo. During his undergraduate studies, James was the GNC Lead for LinkSat in the University at Buffalo Nanosatellite Laboratory and had two internships at NASA Goddard.

Research Focus: Experimental development and analysis for droplet characteristics and formation due to shear atomization between a gas and liquid layer.

jbilello@buffalo.edu

Matthew.
Matthew Schulwitz

Matt is a 2nd year Master’s student in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department under the advisement of Dr. James Chen. Matt received a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering with a minor in Mathematics from the University at Buffalo in May of 2018.

Research focus: Simulation development for vortex excited instabilities at gas-liquid interfaces in turbulent combusting flows. Collaboration with experimental hybrid rocket fuel team for validation through small-scale model comparison. Additionally, small-scale hypersonic experiments in rarefied plasma flows.

mschulwi@buffalo.edu

Kolos.
Kolos Retfalvi

Kolos is a 1st year Master's student in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department.  As an undergraduate junior and senior, Kolos has been one of the leaders for UB’s AIAA student chapter and one of the team leaders for AIAA’s Design Build Fly competition.

Research focus: Develop a particle tracking mechanism to describe the motion of the wax particle after atomization. Develop an instability model for thin liquid layers for different blowing rates and high Reynolds numbers for paraffin wax. Develop atomization experiments for liquid paraffin wax to validate the instability model with field measurements.

kolosret@buffalo.edu

Sam.
Samuel Rabinowitz

Sam is a 1st year Master's student at Tufts University in the Mathematics Department under the advisement of Dr. Abiy Tasissa and Dr. Xiaozhe Hu. Sam received his Bachelor's in computer science and mathematics with Summa Cum Laude from Tufts in 2021.

Research Focus: Build supervised learning models to study rocket propulsion and apply uncertainty quantification techniques.

samuel.rabinowitz@tufts.edu

Nick.
Nicholas Mcnally

Nick is a senior undergraduate student pursuing a double major in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering with a minor in Mathematics. He is the current chief engineer for the UBSEDS rocketry team, which competes in IREC at the Spaceport America Cup.

Research focus: Designing test rigs for retaining motors and data collection. Design and manufacting of bench scale and full scale hybrid motors for simulation validation. 

namcnall@buffalo.edu

Owen.
Owen Myotte

Owen is a junior undergraduate student of Mechanical and Robotics Engineering under the advisement of Dr. Paul DesJardin. Owen's expected graduation is in May 2023. Interests include energetic flow simulation, propulsion, and power production.

Research focus: Building launch control and data acquisition systems to perform analysis on hybrid rocket flights for model validation.

owenmylo@buffalo.edu

William.
William Cafarelli

Billy is a junior year undergraduate student pursuing a double major in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. 

Research Focus: Explore the effects of additives on fuel grain performance of paraffin wax in Hybrid rocket propulsion. Develop a system for tensile and compression testing of paraffin wax. Design and manufacture fuel grains using centrifugal casting. Study and apply Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (TIG) manufacturing methods to hybrid rocket manufacturing.

wgcafare@buffalo.edu

Alexander.
Alexander Stroud

Alex is a junior undergraduate student in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department. Alex received his Bachelors in Biological Sciences from the University at Buffalo in 2019, and returned to pursue a mechanical and aerospace engineering degree with intentions to enter the space launch industry after his intended graduation date in May 2023. During his undergraduate studies, Alex has pursued projects in propulsion by assisting SEDS with research and fabrication of solid rocket motors and his personal research into small liquid rocket engines.

Research Focus: Collaboration with the bench scale hybrid motor team to develop methods of nozzle and grain regression characterization via high flow air systems.

ajstroud@buffalo.edu

Nathan.
Nathan Rishe

Nathan is a junior undergraduate student pursing a degree in Aerospace Engineering. Nathan plans to continue his education through University at Buffalo as a graduate student in the Mechanical and Aerospace engineering department.

Research Focus: Develop a system utilizing centrifugal casting methods to design and manufacture fuel grains.

nrishe2@buffalo.edu