Students

Calla Bassett

Mentor: Dr. Daniel Kennefick
Email: cibasset@uark.edu

Calla graduated from Southern Arkansas University with a B.S. in Engineering and a B.S. in Engineering Physics-Science Option in the Spring of 2018, and entered the Space and Planetary Sciences program in the fall of the same year. She is working with Dr. Daniel Kennefick on simulating gravitation waves formed by blackhole binaries, and measuring pitch angles of spiral glaxies in different wavelengths.


Sam Cano

Mentor: Dr. Adam Huang
Email: scano@uark.edu


Racine Cleveland

Mentor: Dr. Vincent Chevrier
Email: racinec@uark.edu


Keith Doore

Mentor: Dr. Bret Lehmer
Email: kjdoore@uark.edu

Keith is a 2017 graduate of the University of Northern Iowa with a B.S degree in Physics and a B.A. in Earth Science. Keith joined the graduate program in Space and Planetary Sciences as a Ph.D. student in the Fall of 2017. His research interests include studying the star formation histories of numerous known galaxies by using observational data from space telescopes such as Hubble, Spitzer, GALEX and Herschel.


Katherine Dzurilla

Mentor: Dr. Vincent Chevrier
Email: kadzuril@uark.edu

Katherine graduated from Oklahoma State University with bachelor’s degrees in Biochemistry and Physics. She joined the Space and Planetary Sciences graduate program in Spring 2018. Katherine is currently studying tholins produced on Titan and their solubility.


Al Emran

Mentor: Dr. Vincent Chevrier
Email: alemran@uark.edu

Emran is a 2019 graduate of Auburn University with an M.S. degree in Planetary Science specialization where he worked on surficial investigations of Mars using NASA's orbital spacecraft data. He received his B.S. and an M.S. degree from the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. Emran joined the graduate program in Space and Planetary Sciences as a Ph.D. student in the Fall of 2019. His current research involves the thermal response of Pluto (and Kuiper belt objects or KBOs) using laboratory simulated experiments and NASA's New Horizons spacecraft data. He is also interested in planetary astronomy including exoplanet research.


Andrew Ferrell

Mentor: Dr. Bret Lehmer
Email: aferrell@uark.edu

Andrew was in the NASA Community Aerospace Scholars class of 2011. He graduated from Crowder College with an Associate of Arts in physics in 2012. He then attended Pittsburg State University, completing a Bachelor of Science in physics with an emphasis in astrophysics and a minor in mathematics, he graduated with departmental academic honors from the Department of Physics in 2014. This was followed by a Master of Science in physics from the University of Arkansas, completed in 2018. He joined SPAC in Fall 2018. His research is focused on how low-mass x-ray binaries located in nearby galaxies evolve over the age of the universe, primarily using data from Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-Ray Observatory.


Alec Fitting

Mentor: Dr. Vincent Chevrier
Email: abfittin@uark.edu

Alec graduated from the University of Arkansas in 2021 with bachelor's degrees in Physics and Philosophy. He joined the Center for Space and Planetary Sciences as a Ph.D. student in the fall of 2021. He conducted research on Martian brines, and is now studying the adsorption of CO2 on Mars through data analysis and experimental research.


Justin Hill

Mentor: Dr. Julia Kennefick
Email: jah035@uark.edu


Nic Jordan

Mentor: Dr. Vincent Chevrier
Email: ncj009@uark.edu


Victoria Karnes

Mentor: Dr. Vincent Chevrier
Email: vmkarnes@uark.edu

Victoria is a graduate of the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology with a B.S. degree in Geology and a minor in Geospatial Technologies. She joined the graduate program in Space and Planetary Science in the Fall of 2020. She is working with Dr. Chevrier on mapping ice on the polar caps of Mars using CRISM data.


Paul Knightly

Mentor: Dr. Vincent Chevrier
Email: jknightl@uark.edu

Paul is a 2013 graduate of Wichita State University with a Bachelor of Science in Geology. He joined the Space and Planetary Sciences program in Fall 2016 as a PhD student after working in industry as an environmental field geologist. His research interests are primarily focused on Mars and studying the morphology of polar landscapes and how water brines impact near sub-surface environments.


Jacob Krebs

Mentor: Dr. Vincent Chevrier
Email: jk062@uark.edu


Jill McDonald

Mentor: Dr. Vincent Chevrier
Email: jrm071@uark.edu

Jill is a 2018 graduate of Missouri Southern State University with a B.S. in Physics. She entered the Space and Planetary Science graduate program in Fall 2018. Research focus is on mixtures of gas and ice called clathrates. She uses the Pluto Chamber to determine how different types of clathrate form at low temperature, low pressure conditions. When she’s not in the lab, Jill enjoys spending time outside with family, reading, playing drums, and baking.


Elise Merchak

Mentor: Dr. Vincent Chevrier
Email: ejmercha@uark.edu

Elise Merchak graduated from Butler University with her B.S. in Astrophysics & Astronomy, and Physics. Elise joined the Center for Space and Planetary Sciences in Fall 2021 as a PhD student. She works in the experimental Venus laboratory researching the effects of supercritical versus gaseous CO2 on the surface of Venus.


Cadi Morrison

Mentor: Dr. Adam Huang
Email: cem011@uark.edu

Cadi graduated in 2018 with her BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Arkansas. She started her MS in Space and Planetary Science in Fall 2019 with a focus in engineering. Her research will be involved with the current CubeSat projects, ARKSAT-1 and ARKSAT-2.


Daniel Oliver

Mentor: Dr. Daniel Kennefick
Email: djo001@uark.edu

Daniel is a graduate of Oklahoma State University with a bachelor's degree in Physics. During his time at OSU he assisted with research on the effects of slow noise in a laser with injected signal. Daniel entered the graduate program in Space and Planetary Science at the University of Arkansas in Fall 2017.


James Phillips

Mentor: Dr. Kennefick
Email: jrphilli@uark.edu

James graduated from the University of Arkansas in 2017 with a B.S. in Astronomy. He joined the graduate program in Space and Planetary Sciences in the fall of 2018. James works with the Arkansas Galaxy Evolution Survey (AGES) collaboration, where he works with machine learning and computer vision techniques for astrometric data collection.


Cassie Sands

Mentor: Dr. Adam Huang
Email: cmsands@uark.edu

Cassie graduated from Purdue University in 2012 with a B.S. in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering and a minor in Physics. They joined the center in Fall 2018 after six years' work in the commercial aircraft industry. Cassie is the graduate project manager of the ARKSAT-2 cubesat project, and is investigating planetary science applications of the spacecraft system concept to other bodies in the solar system. Their professional interests include: missions in the solar system, history of science, and the intersection of science and society.


Vanessa Schmitt

Mentor: Dr. Vincent Chevrier
Email: vmschmit@uark.edu


Rachel Slank

Mentor: Dr. Vincent Chevrier
Email: rslank@uark.edu

Rachel graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso with a Master’s of Science in Geology in 2016. She focused on discovering subsurface cavities on the Moon using thermal inertia. Rachel double majored in Geology and Earth Science at the University of Arkansas in her undergrad and graduated in 2013. She is currently working on studying the stability of adsorbed water at the surface of Mars, as well as the transfer of water vapor between the regolith and atmosphere. Her research is conducted through experiments in a Mars simulation chamber located on campus. She is the manager of the Mars Lab.


Troy Williams

Mentor: Dr. Vincent Chevrier
Email: tlw051@uark.edu

Troy graduated from West Virginia University in the Spring of 2020 with a B.S. in Physics. He joined the Center for Space and Planetary Sciences in the Fall of 2020. Troy is currently studying how hydrocarbons, nitriles, and other compounds interact in the lakes of Titan. This research is conducted experimentally using the Titan simulation chamber and computationally using molecular dynamics software.