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PhD student Elijah Jans wins two prestigious DOD fellowships

Elijah JansElijah JansIt’s rare to be faced with the decision to accept one of two outstanding academic opportunities. Elijah Jans, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, had to make that difficult choice this summer.

He was named the 2017 recipient of two highly competitive graduate fellowships from the Department of Defense (DOD): The National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship and the Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship. While students are able to apply to receive both awards, the conditions of appointment require participants to only choose one. 

Ultimately, Jans accepted the NDSEG Fellowship. The three-year award, which provides full-tuition funding, a monthly stipend and medical insurance, empowers students to pursue a doctoral degree in one of fifteen disciplines. For Jans, that area of focus is aeronautical and astronautical engineering.

Using this fellowship, Jans will study the many ways in which spectroscopy and laser diagnostics allow researchers to investigate phenomena that was previously not possible.

“My research pursuits and educational program are centered on the ability to investigate the world at the atomic level,” he shared. “Focusing on quantum mechanics, lasers, physical gas dynamics, and statistical thermodynamics offers the fundamental knowledge I need to be engaged in spectroscopic research.”

Jans’ work impacts national security because these techniques can be used by the DOD to detect hazardous gases and bioweapons during military settings.

This new award means that Jans will soon accomplish one of his major research goals: To develop laser diagnostics using Coherent Anti-Stokes Raman Spectroscopy (CARS) and cavity ring-down spectroscopy (CRDS). His future research will investigate the chemistry in non-equilibrium hypersonic flows, such as strong shock waves. This area of study will advance hypersonic flight, which is the next frontier for the U.S. Air Force.

Additionally, Jans’ current research is sponsored by the Lockheed Martin Corporation and by the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research project, “Molecular Energy Transfer Processes in Non-Equilibrium Hypersonic Flows”. This project is led by Ivett Leyva, who heads the Combustion Devices Group at the Edwards Air Force Base in Edwards, California.

As a graduate research assistant in the Non-Equilibrium Thermodynamics Laboratory (NETL), Jans’ work explores the physics of engineering environments, such as electric discharges in gases, high-temperature gas dynamic flows, gas lasers and plasma chemical reactors. 

“I think what made Elijah stand out is that he was able to obtain a truly groundbreaking scientific result during his first year of graduate school,” said Professor Igor Adamovich, who leads the NETL. “The significance of this work is not only that is resulted in publishing a journal paper in Chemical Physics Letters, but it also opened an entirely new possibility in hypersonic vehicle technology.”

In addition to this fellowship, Jans was awarded a College of Engineering Fellowship in 2016 and a University Fellowship in 2015.