Benjamin Jorns | Faculty

Benjamin Jorns

Professor, Aerospace Engineering

3037 FXB

(734) 764-8224 

About Benjamin Jorns

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

  •  AIAA, Senior Member
  • AIAA Electric Propulsion Technical Committee, Member
  • Electric Propulsion Rocket Society, Member
  • American Physical Society, Member

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.

Honors and Awards

  • NASA/JPL Voyager Award, 2015
  • NASA/JPL Discovery Award, 2014
  • NASA/JPL Mariner Award, 2013
  • NASA Graduate Student Researchers Program, 2011-2012
  • NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program, 2008-2011