Lab Members

Founder and Director


Dr. Nesrin Sarigul-Klijn

The DynaaTECC Research Lab is under the directorship of Dr. Sarigul-Klijn. She directs M.S. thesis and Ph.D. dissertation research of 4-6 students each year. Her research areas are in minimum weight design with aeroelastic and acoustic constraints; landing recovery system studies: winged, rotor, or parachute recovery system trades and scaled flight testing; development of advanced finite element methods to solve steep gradient problems of high temperature due to aerodynamic heating or shock loading; environmental noise control; flow induced vibrations; innovative power generation systems; and long duration space flight effects on the human spine.

Dr. Sarigul-Klijn’s complete biography can be found here.

Phone: (530) 752-0682
Email: nsarigulklijn (at)

Graduate Researchers


Michael Buonarati, Ph.D. Student       

Michael received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles in May of 2017. During his undergraduate degree, Michael was an award recipient of the Intertek Scholarship and Internship program. He also interned with Intertek where he worked with a 7-axis Coordinate Measuring Machine (CMM), and analyzed automotive parts.  Michael was the founder and team captain of the SAE Aero Design Team in 2016 and 2017. Michael is an avid rugby player and is currently playing for the UC Davis team. Michael received his Master’s degree in 2020 from UC Davis. Michael is currently a PhD degree student  with a  research focus in fluid-structure interactions with application to aerospace vehicles.

Email: mbuonarati (at)

Matthew Gabel, Ph.D. Student

Matthew received his B.S. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Davis in 2017. He is interested in aircraft design, dynamics, and multi-disciplinary research in flow-structure interactions. Matthew is currently pursuing a PhD in using gradient adaptive transfinite elements to model fluid structure interactions and radar cross section for design of aerospace systems.

Email: mgabel (at)



Tim Marchelli, Ph.D. Candidate

Tim received his B.S. in Aeronautical Engineering, and  his M.S. in Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering from UC Davis in 2002 and 2005. His Master’s thesis was entitled “One Dimensional Damage Model of a C-17 Transport Aircraft”.  Tim worked at Northrop Grumman as a structural engineer and operations researcher, and at General Atomics as a flight controls software engineer. Tim is currently a Ph.D. degree candidate investigating flow and flexible structure interactions  of aerospace systems via finite element based high fidelity formulations.

Email: tlmarchelli (at)

Peter Lee, Ph.D. Student

Peter obtained his B.S. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at UC Davis in 2012. Peter received his MS degree in 2019. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D., researching automatic flight control for aerospace systems. His research interests are focused around aerospace systems and computational methods.

Email: pcmlee (at)

Jonathan Boyd, M.S. Student   

Jonathan obtained a B.S in Mechanical Engineering from University of Wisconsin, Madison. He is currently a graduate student in the Mechanical and Aerospace  Engineering Department. Jonathan’s research is focused on power generation from an oscillating delta wing.

Email: jboyd (at)


Blake Hannah, M.S. /Ph. D. Student

Blake earned his B.S. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at UC Davis in June of 2020. During his time at UC Davis, he was a member of the Space and Satellite Systems Club where he designed, manufactured, and tested a reaction wheel implemented on the team’s CubeSat set to launch into Low-Earth Orbit in 2021. He also earned an athletic scholarship as a baseball player on the UC Davis Division I Baseball Team. Blake plans to use his background in satellites to research solar sailing for his M.S. degree project and continue onto his Ph.D. dissertation  research.

Email: bjhannah (at)


DynaaTECC Alumni


Megna Hari, Ph.D.

Megna received her B.S. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from UC Davis in 2014. She continued at UC Davis to receive a M.S. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering in March 2017 with a thesis entitled “Computational Simulation for Predicting Sloshing Motion in Cylindrical Tanks under Dynamic Loads”. Currently, Megna is continuing her research in slosh dynamics as her Ph.D. dissertation topic. Thus far, Megna has held five internships at the Lockheed Martin Space System Company — one in Engineering Excellence, four in Orion Loads and Dynamics.

Email: meghari (at)


Joe Barthel, Ph.D.

Joe received a B.S. in both Physics and Astrophysics from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities in 2010. He then went on to UC Davis to obtain his M.S. in Physics with a thesis entitled, “Using Hydrogen Fluoride as an H2 Tracer” using infrared spectroscopy in 2013. Joe is currently a Ph.D. student in the Mechanical and Aerospace department researching the design optimization of radiation shielding for human space missions. Joe was the recipient of the 2015 N&M Sarigul-Klijn Flight Research/Space Engineering Award.

Email: jmbarthel (at)

Matthew J. Mills, M.S.

Matthew obtained a Bachelor of Engineering, majoring in Aerospace Engineering, from Carleton University in 2016. He is currently a graduate student in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department. His research is focused on determining the effect of long duration space flight on the human spine through the use of mathematical and computational models. Matthew was the recipient of the 2017 N&M Sarigul-Klijn Flight Research/Space Engineering Award.

Phone: (530) 760-5882
Email: mjmills (at)

Molly Townsend, Ph.D.

Molly received a Bachelor of Science in Bioengineering from Clemson University, and subsequently her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering in 2017 from UC Davis. Her dissertation was entitled “An Investigation of the Finite Element Simulation of Spaceflight-Induced Gravitational Unloading of the Whole Spine”. Molly is currently a Computational Biomechanics Postdoctoral Researcher at the Center for Biomechanics, Materials, and Medicine (CIBM3) in the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Some of Molly’s noteworthy accomplishments include the NSF GRFP Fellowship (2013-2016), the GAANN Fellowship (2012), and a summer internship at the NASA Glenn Research Center Space Academy (2011).

Email: mttownsend (at)


Alex Pensado, M.S.

Alex graduated from UC Davis with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and a B.S. in Aerospace Science in 2015. Alex continued in the Mechanical and Aerospace Department to received his M.S. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering in 2017 under the supervision of Dr. Sarigul-Klijn. His thesis was entitled “Scalability of a Tension Cone Supersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator”. The objective of his thesis was to systematically study the scalability of the supersonic inflatable aerodynamic decelerator tension cone and computationally simulate the minimum inflation pressure required for Earth and Mars deployment conditions. During Alex’s graduate studies he held an internship at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as an Engineering Analyst Intern, and he is currently a Mechanical Engineer at the Lockheed Martin Space System Company.


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