Colorado State University Doctoral Student Receives Prestigious NASA Fellowship

Note to Reporters: Photos of Brian Lee are available with the news release at

Colorado State University doctoral student Brian Lee is one of only 81 students nationwide selected for National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s inaugural class of Space Technology Research Fellows.

Students selected to participate as Fellows will continue to research relevant space technology disciplines while pursuing master’s or doctoral degrees at their respective institutions.

Lee’s research focuses on laser diagnostics for Hall thruster erosion. More specifically, he works with a technique known as cavity ring-down spectroscopy, which is suited for detecting trace amounts of species of interest. For NASA, Lee is using this technique to assess the lifetime of plasma thrusters, which are used to maneuver satellites or propel deep space crafts.

“This research interests me, because it requires a nice mixture of challenging physics concepts with specific engineering applications. I didn’t want to be purely an engineer or purely a physicist,” said Lee.

Lee received his master’s in physics, along with his bachelor’s in engineering science and physics, from Colorado State. In the summer of 2009, he joined Professor Azer Yalin’s Laser Plasma Diagnostics Laboratory within the Department of Mechanical Engineering, where he began his research in laser diagnostics.

“Brian’s fellowship provides recognition of the innovative research he is conducting. It will also allow him to visit NASA centers and develop the laser sensor hand in hand with NASA scientists,” said Yalin.

NASA’s goal for this program is to provide the nation with highly skilled engineers and technologists to improve U.S. competitiveness. To learn more or to view a list of recipients, visit To learn more about CSU’s Laser Plasma Diagnostics Laboratory, visit