Institute for Space Science, Exploration and Technology

Principal Investigators

Space is inherently multi-disciplinary, requiring collaboration among scientists and engineers with a diversity of expertise. ISSET includes the following Principal Investigators:

Dr. Christopher D. K. Herd

Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Professor

Currently the Principal Director of ISSET, Dr. Herd is an expert in the geologic evolution of planetary bodies in the Solar System. His research involves the application of microscale instrumentation to planetary samples in the form of meteorites, and simulation of conditions of formation using the High Temperature Planetary Petrology Lab. He is responsible for the Alberta Meteorite Collection, the largest University-based collection in Canada, now housed in a state-of-the-art curation Facility. The Facility includes the world 's only subzero lab for the curation and handling of pristine meteorites and planetary samples, especially those that contain (or may contain) organic matter. Dr. Herd has lent his expertise to a number of committees and working groups relating sample return from asteroids, comets and Mars.


Dr. Carlos F. Lange

Department of Mechanical Engineering. Associate Professor

Currently the Deputy Director of ISSET, Dr. Lange's research program focuses on several aspects of the Phoenix Mars Lander, including the concept, preliminary design, and numerical characterization of instrumentation for image-based measurement of wind speed and direction; the study of wind effects on water vapour transport within the Martian atmosphere; the numerical and experimental study of dust devils on Mars and their impact on the Phoenix Lander; and instrumentation for meteorological data.


Dr. Duncan G. Elliott

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Professor

Dr. D. Elliott is an expert in embedded & autonomous systems, low earth orbit satellite communications, MEMS sensors, signal processing, and RF and error correction circuits. Prior to joining in the University of Alberta, he was with Nortel in data communications, MO-SAID Technologies as a DRAM designer, and IBM Microelectronics as a contractor in application-specific memory design. He is the 2001 recipient of the Colton Medal in microelectronics for his work on Computational RAM, which has been commercialized and can be found in cell phones. Currently. Dr. D. Elliott serves as faculty advisor for the University of Alberta AlbertaSat (satellite) and Aerial Robotics Groups.


Dr. Janet A. W. Elliott

Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Interfacial Thermodynamics

Dr. J. A. W. Elliott’s research areas include: i) Thermodynamics (equilibrium and nonequilibrium (transport), statistical and continuum), ii) Colloids and Surfaces, and iii) Cryobiology and Cryopreservation. Broad thermodynamic interests include: fundamental concepts in Gibbsian thermodynamics, mathematics of functions, combining thermodynamics with fluid mechanics, and combining thermodynamic insight with experimental data to develop descriptions of states and processes for a wide range of applications. Colloidal and surface thermodynamics interests include: drops, bubbles, adsorption, solidification of colloidal suspensions, microfluidic drop concentrating processes, wetting, superhydrophobic surfaces, evaporation, nucleation, freezing and liquid or vapour nucleation in confined geometries, interfacial and membrane transport, capillarity in gravitational fields, thermodynamics of solutions and suspensions, and nanoscale science. Cryobiology is the study of the effect of extremely low temperatures on biological systems, with a major application being the preservation of cells and tissues for medical transplantation and use in research. Dr. Elliott runs a collaborative, interdisciplinary cryobiology research group jointly with Dr. Locksley McGann in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry. Their interests include experimental and computational cryobiology and cryopreservation of many cell and tissue types for medical and biotechnology applications. Their work encompasses fundamental and applied research, from cryobiological thermodynamics and transport through to clinical implementation. Some of Dr. Elliott’s research areas have been explored in the context of space physical sciences and near-free-fall experiments.


Dr. Jie Han

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Assistant Professor

Dr. Han's research focuses on the design and modeling of probabilistic, energy-efficient and fault-tolerant circuits and systems based on nanoscale devices. Such engineering has applications to the high-radiation space environment. Prior to joining the University of Alberta, he was a NASA INAC (Institute for Nanoelectronics and Computing) Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Florida, and a Research Scientist at the Advanced Medical Diagnostics SA/BV in Belgium. 


Dr. Wolfgang Jaeger

Department of Chemistry, Professor.

Dr. Jaeger, a 2002 Steacie Fellow, manages the Laboratory for Laser Spectropscopy and Atmospheric Sensing, established in collaboration with Dr. Tulip (Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering), a specialist in laser research and instrumentation development for medical and environmental applications. This team has won a competition to submit a proposal to NASA for a Scout Mission to Mars for a viable scientific plan for the mission and prototype development for the scientific instrumentation, focused on a trace gas sensor for H2O, CH4, and CO4 for the Martian atmosphere.


Dr. Martin Jagersand

Department of Computing Science, Associate Professor.

Dr. Jagersand develops adaptive sensory control methods that allow robots to perform fine-grained object manipulation and grasping. He develops visual-motor modules for planning and control, which are particularly well suited for space environments and remote robotic systems.


Dr. Ian R. Mann

Department of Physics. Professor

Dr. Mann's research focuses on understanding solar-terrestrial coupling, specifically the excitation of global scale waves in near-Earth space, the aurora, and understanding the dynamics of the Van Allen radiation belts. He was the inaugural Principal Director of ISSET (2007-2014) and led the growth of the Institute into what it is today.


Dr. Benoit Rivard

Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Professor, Associate Chair (Research)

Dr. Rivard is a geologist with particular interest in the development of applied geological remote sensing. Remote sensing can be used to investigate processes that have modified planetary surfaces over wide ranging spatial and temporal scales. These modifications are represented in the material properties of the surface (mineralogy, composition, texture, physical state). The measurements of reflected and emitted radiation in the laboratory, the field, or from airborne or spaceborne platforms carry fundamental information about the material properties.


Dr. Dan Sameoto

Department of Mechanical Engineering. Assistant Professor

Dr. Sameoto is an expert in micromanufacturing, polymers and composites, smart materials and biomimetics. Prior to joining the University of Alberta, he held a joint NSERC-European Space Agency funded PDF on the development ofgecko-inspired adhesives for space applications. Currently he is applying gecko based adhesives for robotic pick-and-place and 3D Printing of Adaptable Wireless Systems to be used in remote sensing and satellite communications.  


Dr. Ying Y. Tsui

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Professor

Dr. Tsui's research program aims to unfold the many details in laser matter interactions and also to develop useful applications that could benefit society. A comprehensive set of diagnostic and modeling capabilities to probe and to analyze the very complex, fast evolving and interrelating phenomena in laser matter interactions are being developed. Many of these diagnostics and models are being applied to a wide range of fields.