Take a Glimpse into the Life of a CSU Graduate Student

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Graduate Student Spotlights:
Student mentors and official representatives of the ME Department

Mechanical Engineering Graduate Ambassadors (MEGA)


In May 2016, Alyssa graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a B.S. in Environmental Engineering where she worked as an Undergraduate Research Assistant on projects related to UV disinfection and ion exchange to treat drinking water and wastewater. Alyssa is a member of Tau Beta Pi, the national engineering honor society, and served as President of the NH Alpha chapter her senior year. She decided to pursue a master’s in Mechanical Engineering at CSU to further develop her passion for renewable energy. She started in August 2016 and her research is on ultrasonic harvesting of microalgae for biofuels. Alyssa enjoys traveling and has completed two short study abroad programs in Iceland and China. She also spent two months over the summer of 2016 exploring Europe. In her free time she enjoys hiking, skiing, kayaking, and scuba diving.


Kelsey is a PhD candidate in John Volckens’ research group, which she joined in August of 2013. Previously, she graduated with a BA in Physics at Boston University. Her dissertation research involves comprehensively characterizing climate-and-health-relevant emissions from biomass and liquid-fuel cook stoves. Her work also involves addressing the discrepancies between laboratory and in-situ cook stove emissions measurements. As part of her dissertation work, she has traveled to China, Honduras, Uganda, and India to measure cook stove emissions. In her free time, Kelsey loves skiing, trail running, and backpacking in the Colorado Rockies.


At the beginning of 2015 Kirk received his Dipl.-Ing. in Mechanical Engineering with a major in Aerospace Technologies from the Technical University Dresden. His doctoral research focuses on selective electron beam sintering in combination with hollow cathodes. His research interests include plasma technologies, satellite technologies, and manned space missions to the Jupiter system. In his free time he likes to go top roping as well as bouldering. Other interests are theater, basketball, and films.


Betsy joined Dr. Yalin’s research team in August 2015 as a master’s student. She received her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Colorado State University in 2013 where she worked on the development of a cavity ring-down spectroscopy (CRDS) system for CO2 under varying atmospheric conditions. Much of her time as an undergraduate student was also spent working as a research assistant helping to develop and test biomass cookstoves and other energy related systems for the developing world. She then worked as an engineer at Southwest Research Institute in the Applied Physics Division designing, testing and analyzing various systems in the Electromechanical and Optics Department. She will continue working with laser-based systems focusing on atmospheric pollutants and sensor applications. She enjoys racing mountain bikes, cyclocross and endurance gravel for the local women’s team, Fort Follies and CSU. She enjoys advocating for women to ride bikes and to work in STEM. Betsy is always excited to share the wonderful opportunities CSU has given her in both hands-on experience and world travel.


Landon Owen is a Ph.D. student. He completed his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at Southern Methodist University and his M.S. in Mechanical Engineering at University of Idaho. His past research focused on using CFD to determine entropy generation in fluid systems, as well as using CFD to model magnetic separation of granular particles in fluids. Landon joined the CFD & Propulsion Laboratory in August 2013. His research involves the development of CFD algorithms for Large Eddy Simulation of turbulent combusting flows.  Landon is about to start his fourth year at CSU as a PhD student in the CFD & Propulsion Lab. When not doing research, Landon enjoys playing guitar, racquetball, and hiking.


Originally from Boston, Ben moved out to Fort Collins in August of 2012 to begin his PhD research in Dr. Tammy Donahue’s lab on computational modeling of skeletal muscle. I have the career goal to remain in academia as an educator. In between spending time with my wife and dogs, running, and enjoying all the recreational activities Colorado has to offer I can be found toiling away on my computational research endeavors, being an active member of the Graduate Student Council, or attending as many seminars as possible (with food provided, of course).

Meet Graduate Student, Kelsey Bilsback

When considering graduate programs, Kelsey Bilsback wanted to take her physics degree to the next level, and gain a deeper understanding of why science matters.

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