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Our People

Principal Investigator

Timothee Pourpoint
Associate Professor
Dr. Timothee Pourpoint is an Associate Professor in the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics and by courtesy in Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University. In 2000, he obtained his undergraduate degree from ESTACA University in Paris, France and, following a one-year overlap, his MS degree from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. His education in aerospace engineering continued with his Ph.D. from Purdue in 2005. With the Maurice Zucrow laboratories expanding, he had the opportunity to start his own research program in propulsion and energy conversion systems. In 2013, he transitioned from a Research Faculty track to his current position.

Dr. Pourpoint's on-going research focuses on the engineering and detailed characterization of novel materials and on the tailoring of their performance or behavior to specific propulsion systems and energy management requirements.


Jason Gabl
Senior Test Engineer
Jason Gabl is a Senior Research Engineer at Purdue University’s Zucrow Labs. He started at the lab in 2012 as a Graduate Research Assistant during his masters degree and continued as research staff in 2014. His research areas cover hypergolic, hybrid, and mono propellants. He also works on energy conversion in the areas of portable and metal hydrides. As part of the research staff, he has worked on test cell design, experimental design, lab infrastructure, and improving the general capabilities of the lab spaces. In his downtime, he enjoys cooking almost as much as eating and brewing beer.
Robert Orth
Consulting Chemist
Benjamin Whitehead
Senior Test Engineer
Ben Whitehead is a Master’s student in the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Purdue University with a major in propulsion. His projects have included hybrid rocket propellant development, transpiration cooling simulation, and thermal hydrogen and oxygen generation. He enjoys playing guitar, making mead, and long walks on the beach.


Michael Drolet
Post Doc Research Assistant
Michael Drolet is a Ph.D. chemist working in Prof. Pourpoint’s lab. He began working with Prof. Pourpoint in 2015 while still a graduate student at Purdue, investigating hypergolic fuel development guided by the principles of chemistry. After defending his dissertation in February 2017, he joined as a postdoctoral research assistant. His research areas include fuel design based on chemical structure, discerning the identity and order of fundamental chemical reactions occurring during hypergolic ignition, and the development of fuel additives.

Graduate Students

Alicia Benhidjeb-Carayon
Post Doc Research Assistant
Alicia is a Ph.D student in Aerospace Engineering at Purdue University. In partnership with JPL, her research focused on solid chemical compounds that are hypergolic with nitrogen tetroxide and its derivatives, for hybrid rocket application.
Christopher Chiesa
Student Service - Stud Serv
Chris Chiesa is a second year graduate student with research focusing on improving hybrid rocket motor regression rate and structural characteristics through innovative solid fuel mixtures. He completed two summer internships with Orbital ATK and earned his bachelor’s degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics in 2016.
Matthew Elliott
Graduate Research Assistant
Matt Elliott is currently a Master’s Student at Purdue University studying Aerospace Engineering. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Aerospace Engineering from Purdue in May 2016. His research focuses on finding less-toxic alternatives for hypergolic propellants.
John Ellis
Smart Fellowship
John is currently pursuing his Masters degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics, with his major focus in propulsion and minor focus in aerodynamics. He graduated Cum Laude from Utah State University in 2015 with two Bachelors; One in Applied Physics and the other in Mechanical Engineering with Aerospace Emphasis. When not in the Midwest, John enjoys spending time in the Rocky Mountains, biking when it’s warm and snowboarding when it’s not. He is still getting used to the plains of Indiana.
Blair Francis
Graduate Research Assistant
Blair Francis is a first year direct PhD track student studying Aerospace engineering with a concentration in propulsion. In 2017, Blair received a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics Engineering from Purdue University. In his free time, Blair enjoys karate, photography and seeking out new adventures.
Taylor Groom
Graduate Research Assistant
Taylor Groom is a second year PhD track student in the School of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University. He graduated cum laude from Brigham Young University – Idaho with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. His research focuses on low-cost portable hydrogen generation and is supported by the Office of Naval Research. In his spare time Taylor enjoys riding motorcycles, fishing, and spending time with his wife Missy and son Max.
Juhee Hyun
Graduate Research Assistant
Juhee Hyun is a Master's student in the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Purdue University. She does research on hydrogen thermal management at Zucrow Laboratories. She is also a member of the Turbopump team. She received her Bachelor's Degree in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from the University of Missouri-Columbia in Columbia, Missouri. Juhee enjoys running, working out and traveling.
Logan Kamperschroer
Bilsland Dissertation Assistantship
Logan Kamperschroer is a third year graduate student at Purdue University studying aerospace engineering. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in aerospace engineering in 2015 and graduated with a Master’s Degree in 2017, both earned from Purdue as well. His work experience includes internships at Blue Origin and XCOR Aerospace, as well as two years of research at Zucrow Labs. His research focuses on the development and characterization of less-toxic hypergolic propellants.
Rufat Kulakhmetov
Nasa Space Technology Research Fllwshi
Rufat Kulakhmetov is a PhD student working on an NSTRF funded project to study coke and soot deposition in fuel film cooled kerosene rocket engines. Rufat got his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Connecticut and his Masters in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from Purdue, before deciding to continue for PhD. In his free time, he enjoys biking, flying general aviation airplanes, and building remote control airplanes or helicopters.
Jeremy Marcum
Nasa Space Technolgy Research Fellowsh
Jeremy is currently a PhD track student in the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Purdue University. Jeremy received his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Akron in May 2016. As a graduate student, Jeremy works as a Research Assistant with a focus on hypergolic propellants. In his free time, Jeremy enjoys flying small aircraft, working out, playing recreational sports, and being with friends.
Michael Orth
Nasa Space Technolgy Research Fellowsh
Michael Orth is a Master’s student in the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Purdue University, soon to be a PhD student. His master’s research is on combustion instability, and his planned PhD research will be on optical combustion diagnostics techniques and their application to hypergolic propellants. Michael received his BS in Aerospace Engineering from Case Western Reserve University, and a master’s in Engineering Management also from Case Western Reserve University. Before returning to graduate school Michael worked as a manufacturing engineer at Steelville Manufacturing Company for 5 years.
Philip Piper
Smart Fellowship
Philip (Phil) Piper is a second year direct PhD track student at Purdue University studying aerospace engineering with a major in propulsion and a minor in computational science and engineering. Phil graduated from Yale University with a bachelor of science in mechanical/electrical engineering and computer science in 2016. In the lab, Phil’s research focuses on coke/soot formation in fuel film cooled hydrocarbon rocket engines. In his free time, Phil enjoys lifting, building things, and general shenanigans with friends.

Undergraduate Students

Joseph Cavanaugh
Student Service - Stud Serv
Baker Noonan
Student Service - Stud Serv
Nicholas Rich
Resident Assistant - Resident Activiti

Previous Group Members