AAE doctoral student receives prestigious Hertz Fellowship

Author: Alan Cesar
The fellowship provides 5 years of research funding. Langford is studying astrodynamics under Prof. Kathleen Howell.
Andrew Langford
Andrew Langford, doctoral student in astrodynamics at Purdue's School of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Andrew Langford, a doctoral student of astrodynamics under Prof. Kathleen Howell, is one of just 18 individuals selected to receive the Hertz Fellowship in 2024. The program provides a 5-year fellowship promising flexibility to pursue research that “best advances our nation’s security and economic vitality,” the Foundation says.

"For more than 60 years, Hertz Fellows have led scientific and technical innovation in national security, applied biological sciences, materials research, artificial intelligence, space exploration and more,” said Stephen Fantone, chair of the Hertz Foundation and president of Optikos Corporation. “Their contributions have been essential in advancing U.S. competitiveness.”

Langford’s research focuses on applications of dynamical systems theory. He wants to improve the understanding of the natural behavior of orbits, and to enhance spaceflight capabilities in multi-body gravitational environments. His research as a master’s student at University of Cambridge focused on the formation and evolution of the Pluto-Charon system, and of other planetary systems around close binary stars.

Langford intends to use his expertise in astrodynamics to contribute toward a sustainable cislunar presence and deliver scientific and economic opportunity to Earth. His work contributes to Howell’s Multi-Body Dynamics Research Group.

The Hertz Fellowship grants Langford more than funding: He also gains access to lifelong programming, like networking opportunities with some of the 1,300 former fellows spanning the program’s long history. The network of Hertz fellows includes a Nobel laureate and project scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope; the first female director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; a Microsoft CTO; and deputy office director for the DARPA Information Innovation Office.

In total, Hertz fellows include two Nobel laureates; recipients of 10 Breakthrough Prizes and three MacArthur Foundation “genius awards”; and winners of the Turing Award, the Fields Medal, the National Medal of Technology, the National Medal of Science, and the Wall Street Journal Technology Innovation Award. In addition, 52 are members of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, and 37 are fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Publish date: May 17, 2024
Author: Alan Cesar