Gary Li is currently a spacecraft system engineer at The Aerospace Corporation. He recently graduated with a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from UCLA in 2020 and a dual B.A. in Astrophysics and Physics from UC Berkeley in 2014. As an NDSEG fellow, he conducted research on advanced materials for plasma rocket and nuclear fusion technologies. During his academic career, he published over 10 papers and received 1 patent.
Gary is also passionate about science communication. In 2017, he gave a presentation titled “Can weak plasma rockets get us to Mars?” at TEDxUCLA. He has also published popular science articles on plasma rockets and lunar fuel depots that have been featured on The Conversation, BusinessInsider, and space.com. After becoming a Matthew Isakowitz Fellow in 2019, Gary decided to pursue a commercial space career and set a goal of becoming a science and technology leader in the New Space era. He believes that humanity will hit two enormous milestones in the coming decades: a sustained human presence on the moon and the first human on Mars. Plasma rocket technology is sure to play a major role in making that happen.
Where to find out more from Gary Li and his work, as mentioned on the show:
You can find Gary on LinkedIn at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gary-li-1b301047/ and:
- Grad school at UCLA – PhD research on plasma rockets
- Internships at JPL, Air Force Research Lab on “future” propulsion concepts
- TEDxUCLA talk in 2017 “Can weak plasma rockets get us to Mars?”
- UCLA Grad Slam (3 minute thesis competition) winner in 2016 “Traveling to Mars with Immortal Plasma Rockets”
- Caltech Space Challenge in 2017 (two 16-person teams working on 5-day lunar refueling depot mission design competition with JPL)
- Popular science contributor on The Conversation, BusinessInsider, space.com, phys.org, etc.
- Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship in 2019 (intern at Aerospace Corporation, summit with Elon Musk and Buzz Aldrin)