Ansell and Larson honored
Assistant Professor Phillip J. Ansell and Coordinator of Communications and Alumni Relations Debra Levey Larson have been selected as this year’s AIAA Teacher and Staff of the Year, respectively.
Ansell is an Allen Ormsbee Faculty Fellow. He joined the faculty at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2015 and has been recognized for excellence in teaching since he was a graduate student the year prior. He was a Collins Scholar and received the Engineering Council Outstanding Advising Award in 2015. Ansell has also been consistently included in the List of Teachers Ranked Excellent by their Students.
He has taught courses in incompressible flow, applied aerodynamics, aircraft flight mechanics, and the Design, Build, Fly open seminar. He substantially revised the content for AE 515 Wing Theory, and developed the course AE 598 Unsteady Aerodynamics.
Ansell’s research interests include the detailed experimental study of complex, unsteady flow interactions about aerodynamic geometries and the development of novel aerodynamic solutions for flight vehicle technology. He currently supports 10 graduate students in his research group who conduct various types of ground and flight experiments centralized at the Aerodynamics Research Laboratory, a facility Ansell co-directs with a senior faculty member in AE.
Ansell is also the principal investigator for the Center for High-Efficiency Electrical Technologies for Aircraft (CHEETA)—a NASA-funded project proposing a fundamental shift away from jet fuel toward more sustainable energy sources for aviation, and the introduction of new electrically driven propulsion systems for commercial aircraft systems.
Ansell earned his bachelor’s degree from Pennsylvania State University in 2008 and his master’s degree in 2010 and doctoral degree in 2013, both from the University of Illinois.
The Staff of the Year Award is based on overall excellence in service to the students and faculty of the department. Larson joined the administrative staff in the Dept. of AE in Jan. 2018 as the coordinator of communications and alumni relations. Prior to that she was a news writer for the University of Illinois’ College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences and Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant. She got her start in communications writing and producing television commercials at WICD-TV in Champaign, then as a freelance writer and producer.
Larson said she enjoys writing about the department’s research and activities, and especially the latitude for creativity the department affords her—examples include: arranging for Alma to wear a 3D-printed space helmet to kick-off this past year’s 75th anniversary; reinventing the annual magazine (this year with a 75 years in air and space timeline inserted); and developing an online yearbook to honor the 2020 graduates.
Larson earned her bachelor’s degree in communications from Wheaton College and a master’s degree in educational policy studies from the University of Illinois.