Co-Director, Facility Fidelity, Co-Lead
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

Dr. Benjamin Jorns is an assistant professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan and co-director of the Plasmadynamics and Electric Propulsion Laboratory (PEPL). Prior to joining PEPL, Dr. Jorns was a member of the electric propulsion group at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California where his work combined experimental and analytical techniques to investigate propulsion systems for the next generation of NASA robotic missions. Dr. Jorns also held a lecturer appointment in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at UCLA from 2013-2015. His primary research interests include wear mechanisms and stability in electric propulsion systems, turbulence and nonlinear processes in low-temperature plasmas, developing new plasma diagnostics, and investigating breakthrough forms of in-space propulsion. He has experience with several commercial and government-build plasma propulsion systems including high-current hollow cathodes, 1-10 kW class Hall thrusters, and low-TRL electrodeless thruster concepts. His work with electric propulsion technology has centered on developing first-principles understanding of their operating principles as well as implementing time-resolved and laser-based diagnostics to characterize behavior.


  • B.S. Physics, Yale University, 2007
  • M.A. Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Princeton University, 2009
  • Ph.D. Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Princeton University, 2012
  • Society Memberships

Research Interests

Electric propulsion systems; high-power Hall thrusters; turbulence and nonlinear process in low temperature plasmas; optically-based plasma diagnostics; coherent, low-frequency plasma structures; magnetic detachment; micropropulsion; breakthrough forms of space propulsion.

Professional Service

  • American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Senior Member, 2009-Present
  • American Physical Society, Member, 2016-Present
  • Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Member, 2018-Present
  • AIAA Electric Propulsion Technical Committee, Member, 2015-Present
  • Electric Propulsion Rocket Society, Member, 2010-Present
  • Michigan Institute for Plasma and Science Engineering, Member, Executive Committee, 2017-Present


  • AIAA Lawrence Sperry Award, 2021
  • Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Program award, 2018-Present
  • Best Paper, Electric Propulsion Category, AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum, 2017, 2019
  • Featured Article, Physics of Plasmas, 2020
  • Editor’s Pick, Physics of Plasmas, 2014, 2018
  • NASA Team Achievement Award for 12.5 kW Hall Thruster Development, 2018
  • NASA JPL Voyager Award, 2015 NASA Group Achievement Award, 2015
  • NASA JPL Team Award, 2015
  • NASA JPL Discovery Award, 2014
  • NASA JPL Mariner Award, 2013