Members Biographies – January 1st

Kshitij Mall: Commander (India)
Kshitij Mall is a Post-doctoral Research Associate at the Center for Integrated Systems in Aerospace, Purdue University. He obtained his Ph.D. and Masters degrees from the School of Aeronautics & Astronautics, Purdue University. He was a Post-doctoral Research Fellow in the department of Aerospace Engineering at Auburn University in 2019. Previously, he completed B. Tech. in Mechanical Engineering at JSSATE Noida, India and then worked for a year at Infosys Technologies Ltd. as a Computer Systems Engineer Trainee. His research interests lie in the areas of Optimal Control Theory, Atmospheric Flight Mechanics, Explainable Artificial Intelligence, and Human-Class Mars missions. He is a member of AIAA. His crew call sign is Chai.

Arly Black: Crew Scientist/Executive Officer (Canada)
Arly Black is a PhD Candidate in the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Purdue University, majoring in Astrodynamics. She works in the Space Information Dynamics Group, with a research focus on categorizing orbital debris in cislunar space. Earlier Ph.D. work involved research on passive, aerodynamically stable drag sail deorbit devices for the removal of debris from low-Earth orbits. She obtained her master’s degree from the same program at Purdue University with a major in Propulsion, and her thesis work involved the study of reaction kinetics of hypergolic propellants. Arly received her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Queen’s University in Canada, and afterwards worked for three years as a Completions Field Engineer with Schlumberger, before pursuing her graduate education. Arly is an avid reader and a perpetual student. She enjoys hiking, skiing, cycling, traveling the world, playing with her German Shepherd Chloe, and making chocolate. Her crew call sign is Maple.

Adriana Brown: Crew Geologist (USA)
Adriana Brown is a recent graduate of Purdue University with a B.S. in Environmental Geoscience. Her undergraduate research focused on stable isotope geochemistry and a paleoclimate reconstruction of Death Valley. She is currently applying to graduate schools to study geochemistry to explore questions about deep time processes on Earth and their applications on other planets. In her free time, she enjoys cycling, hiking, cooking, and reading. Her crew call sign is Rocky.

Mason Kuhn: Crew Engineer (USA)
Mason Kuhn is a senior undergraduate student pursuing a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University. His primary interests within the field of Mechanical Engineering are Aeronautics and Automotives. In accordance with an interest in Aeronautics, Mason will be conducting research at MDRS using a Skydio 2 Drone for scouting, navigation, and search & rescue. Upon graduating from Purdue in May of 2023, he will move to Saginaw, Michigan for a full-time role as a Systems Integration Engineer for Nexteer Automotive. In addition, he has internship work experience as a design engineer and project manager. Mason is from Lockport, Illinois, has an interest in professional and college sports, and is also an avid golfer in his free time. He is extremely excited and prepared for the two-week Mars simulation filled with researching areas of interest, completing team projects, and taking in as much of the MDRS experience as possible. His crew call sign is Scout.

Kenneth Pritchard: Crew Journalist (USA)
Kenny Pritchard is a second-year master’s thesis student within the school of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Purdue University. His research lies in the area of autonomous space habitat design and decision making with the Resilient ExtraTerrestrial Habitats Institute (RETHi). He graduated with a BS in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from Purdue University in December 2021. In his undergraduate career, he held extracurricular roles including Director of Activities for Purdue Space Day, National Director of Operations for Arnold Air Society, and several Air Force ROTC leadership positions. Having been commissioned through ROTC, Kenny is a second lieutenant with an assignment to attend USAF Undergraduate Pilot Training after his planned graduation in May 2022. His crew call sign is Hemingway.

Megan Rush: Health and Safety Officer (USA)
Megan is a senior Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering undergraduate student at Purdue University. She is a cadet in the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corp (ROTC) where she has held leadership positions that include Flight Commander, Special Events Coordinator, and Vice Wing Commander. After she graduates in December 2023, Megan will commission as a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force as a developmental engineer. She will stay at Purdue to pursue her master’s degree in aerospace engineering. Her research experience includes creating models of hand-held tools to 3D print and use in a remote environment. Bringing a 3D printer to Mars would be challenging but could be very advantageous. In her free time, Megan is a certified personal trainer and enjoys strength training and creating workouts for friends and clients. She is from Orlando, Florida where she spends time reading, fishing, and being with family at the beach and Disney. Her crew call sign is Xerox.

Madelyn Whitaker: Greenhab Officer (USA)
Madelyn Whitaker is an undergraduate student in biological engineering at Purdue Univeristy, concentrating in cellular and biomolecular engineering with minors in biology, biotechnology, and data driven agriculture. She is a member of ASGSR and Alpha Epsilon. Her research interests lie in the areas of plant physiology and stress responses, and plant and microbial symbiosis in closed inhabitation. During her stay at MDRS, she will be testing effects of grey water usage and Astrobiome application on plant yield, photosynthetic efficiency, and overall microbial diversity. She has previously completed research in organic waste repurposing, plant growth in lunar and Martian regolith, and other plant stress projects relating to astrobotany and interplanetary agriculture. Madelyn hopes to continue future doctoral work in the area of controlled environment agriculture, as well as biological and plant life support systems for lunar and Martian missions. Her crew call sign is Sprout.

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