Current Members


George_VardaxisGeorge Vardaxis:

George Vardaxis graduated from Iowa State University in 2011 with a Bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering and a second major in Mathematics. Currently, he is a graduate research assistant under Dr. Bong Wie in the Asteroid Deflection Research Center working on mission design and impact risk assessment of near-Earth asteroids in application to planetary defense. George’s research interests include spacecraft mission design, trajectory optimization, long-term orbit propagation, and impact risk assessment. George will be graduating in May 2015 with his PhD. He plans to work on his research interests in industry or academia.  George wants to become a full professor at a university working on solutions to big problems in the field of Orbital Mechanics, such as a human mission to Mars, planetary exploration, and NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM).


Josh_LyzhoftJosh Lyzhoft:

Josh Lyzhoft received his undergraduate degree in aerospace engineering from Iowa State University in the spring semester of 2012. After his undergraduate endeavor, he continued studies as a graduate student underneath the guidance of Dr. Bong Wie. He is currently a PhD student in aerospace engineering.

While taking classes and performing teaching assistant duties, Josh continues research in the area of asteroid intercept missions, where signal-to-noise ratios are estimated for a given target and instrument parameters (infrared cameras, visual cameras, and radar). GPU computer simulations are conducted to test spacecraft guidance feasibility.

In his free time, he enjoys spending time with family and adventuring in far off lands, which may be just a few hours’ drive north to Minnesota or traveling overseas to explore the depths of this marvelous planet. He also enjoys splitting wood and stargazing.



Ben_ZimmermanBen Zimmerman:

Ben is originally from Wahoo, NE, and came to Iowa State University to pursue education in aerospace engineering.

Ben graduated with his B.S. and M.S in aerospace engineering in May 2011 and May 2013, both from ISU. His Masters work focused on implementing high-order methods with graphics processing units for computational fluid dynamics applications. Ben was attracted to the ADRC for the challenging problem of asteroid deflection. Currently, Ben is applying high-order methods to simulate surface and subsurface explosions from high-energy devices to be used for asteroid disruption. Ben also seeks to model the fragmentation of the asteroid target for future risk assessment analysis.

After graduation, Ben wants to work for a Government lab, applying computational methods to solve physical problems. He is currently a teaching assistant for AerE 361, computational methods for aerospace design. He hopes to graduate in 2016.