People are who make it happen!


  • Faculty
    • Dr. Trevor Moeller
    • Dr. Lino Costa
    • Dr. Montgomery Smith
  • Students
    • Mr. Kenneth “Adam” Croft
    • Mr. Waritphon “Junior” Overacker
    • Mr. James Rogers
    • Mr. Samuel Smith
    • Ms. Katrina Sweetland
    • Mr. Derek Burkhart
    • Mr. Brandon Roberts


Dr. Trevor Moeller

Associate Professor

Dr. Trevor Moeller is an Associate Professor in the Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering Department at the University of Tennessee Space Institute. He received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Tennessee in 1998, MS in Mechanical Engineering from UT in 1993, and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in 1991. Dr. Moeller specializes in high temperature gases and plasmas and air plasmas, having experience in both modeling and experimentation. Since joining UTSI, Dr. Moeller has been the principal investigator of programs with funding of more than $4M, including electric propulsion thruster and rocket programs requiring detailed plasma diagnostics and plasma simulations. He has also served as principal investigator of programs to develop/model probes for high-enthalpy flows. In addition to these current programs, he directed many of the technology development efforts for InnovaTek, Inc, a small business in Washington. His efforts at InnovaTek included participation in the development of InnovaTek’s atmospheric air plasma decontamination system, which was shown to effectively destroy chemical and biological warfare agents on surfaces. Dr. Moeller also helped develop InnovaTek’s patented mini-cyclone aerosol collector technology, used to collect airborne particles for chemical analysis. He has more than 41 papers in journals and conference proceedings and has received one patent. He is a reviewer for NSF and many international journals. Dr. Moeller has served on the Executive Committee of the IEEE Nuclear and Plasma Science Society (2005-2008) and is a current member of the AIAA Plasmadynamics and Lasers Technical Committee (2007-present).

Dr. Monty Smith

Associate Professor

Professor Smith received a B.S. in Mathematics and Physics from Rhodes College in 1978, and B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Tennessee in Electrical Engineering in 1982, 1984 and 1988, respectively. He has previously worked as an Assistant Physicist for Southern Research Institute in Birmingham AL (1978 – 1979), a Radiological Physicist for the Tennessee Department of Public Health in Nashville TN (1980 – 1981), and a Research Engineer for the University of Tennessee Space Institute in Tullahoma TN (1984 -1989). From 1989 to 1996, he was an Assistant Professor for University of Tennessee Space Institute, and from 1996 to 2012, served as an Associate Professor. In the summers of 1997 and 1998, he was a Summer Faculty Fellow at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville AL. His research and teaching interests include the general fields of optics, signal processing, and communications theory, with specialized involvement in electronic and optical diagnostic techniques emphasizing post-acquisition algorithms for data processing and analysis utilizing digital signal and image processing. Dr. Smith has published 23 refereed journal articles, primarily in IEEE and OSA journals, 25 conference presentations, and 5 book chapters. He has served as Major Professor for 25 M.S. students in Electrical Engineering and Engineering Science. His professional activities include Senior Member of the IEEE, and Member of the OSA, Sigma Pi Sigma, and Sigma Xi. He is a registered Professional Engineer in the state of Tennessee, License #022307.


Dr. Lino Costa

Research Assistant Professor

Dr. Lino Costa is a Research Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Tennessee. He holds a Ph.D. in Materials Engineering, and a Licentiate in Physics, from Instituto Superior Técnico, University of Lisbon. Dr. Costa has over 15 years of experience in laser materials processing, having contributed to the advancement of laser-based additive manufacturing of metals, laser alloying and cladding of surfaces for extreme environments, laser-assisted synthesis of refractory coatings for ultra-high temperature applications, and femtosecond laser micromachining of microfluidic devices. Dr. Costa has also made significant strides on the fabrication and functionalization of mil-tall piles of polymer nanofibers formed using nanoimprinting methods.  Dr. Costa carries out his research at the Center for Laser Applications, a Center of Excellence of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, located at the University of Tennessee Space Institute. Dr. Costa has authored over 20 papers in peer-reviewed journals and is a frequent reviewer for the Rapid Prototyping Journal and Surface and Coatings Technology.


Andy Bell

Graduate Research Assistant

Kenneth “Adam” Croft

Graduate Research Assistant

Kenneth “Adam” Croft entered UTSI in 2016 as a PhD Student and a Graduate Research Assistant under Dr. Moeller. He previously obtained a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s degree in computational engineerign ant the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. His research interests include numerical simulation/CFD code development and application.

Waritphon “Junior” Overacker

Graduate Research Assistant

Waritphon “Junior” Overacker graduated with a B.S. in Engineering with a mechanical concentration from the University of Tennessee at Martin in 2016. After graduation, he interned for 8 months as a process engineer at Dana Incorporated in Paris, TN. He began to pursue his masters in aerospace engineering at the University of Tennessee Space Institute in the spring of 2017 where he became a graduate research assistant under Dr. Trevor Moeller’s group later that fall. His research is focused on laser absorption spectroscopy as a diagnostic tool for combustion products.

James Rogers

Ph.D. Student, Part-Time

James doctoral candidate under Dr. Trevor Moeller, currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering. He received a M.S. in Aerospace Engineering from UTSI in 2012, and a B.S. in Physics from Tennessee Tech in 2009. His research work has primarily been centered around understanding and mitigating the effects of cryodeposition and contamination inside space vacuum chambers. He hopes to continue working as an Aerospace Engineer to help develop new space exploration technology. He currently works full-time for Aerospace Test Alliance at Arnold Engineering Development Center.

Samuel Smith

Sam Smith graduated from LeTourneau University with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering in 2018. He entered UTSI later that year to pursue a master’s degree in aerospace engineering. He also works as a graduate research assistant under Dr. Moeller focusing on the effects of distributed surface roughness on compressible flows.



Katrina Sweetland

Graduate Research Assistant

Katrina Sweetland is from New Mexico and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in 2015. She is currently in the PhD program for Mechanical Engineering at UTSI as a Graduate Research Assistant to Dr. Moeller. Her research is currently centred on non-intrusive diagnostics for high temperature reacting flows.


Brandon S. Roberts

Graduate Research Assistant

Brandon Roberts graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 2019 with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering.  He entered UTSI the summer of 2019 to pursue a master’s degree in aerospace engineering, and he currently works as a graduate research assistant under Dr. Moeller focusing on the effects of distributed surface roughness on compressible flows.


Derek Burkhart

Graduate Research Assistant