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Faculty & Staff

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Faculty & Staff

Our best resource is our people! The CASS team is made up of both engineers and scientists from a wide variety of disciplines who work together to design custom sampling solutions to better study and understand the world around us.  

phillip chilson

Phillip Chilson

Director, Center for Autonomous Sensing & Sampling
Professor, School of Meteorology

Phone: 405-325-5095
Twitter: @TheWindProf

Phillip Chilson is the Director of the University of Oklahoma’s Center for Autonomous Sensing and Sampling. In this capacity, Dr. Chilson strives to promote a culture of interdisciplinary and team-driven research to improve how we use emerging technology to investigate, monitor, and ultimately better understand the environment in which we live. He also is a professor in the School of Meteorology and leads research in the center focused on the thermodynamic and kinematic structure of the atmospheric boundary layer. His current research interests include investigations of the atmospheric boundary layer, aeroecology, the advancement of remote sensing technologies, and the development of unmanned aerial systems for atmospheric studies.

He received a B.S. and Ph.D. in Physics from Clemson University and an M.S. in Physics from the University of Florida. After receiving his B.S. degree, Dr. Chilson worked at a nuclear research facility in Germany on of a Fulbright Scholarship. He has also held positions at the Max-Planck Institut für Aeronomie in Germany, the Swedish Institute of Space Physics in Sweden, and at the University of Colorado. Dr. Chilson has been with the University of Oklahoma since 2005, where he has pursued a wide variety of research topics. Before joining the University of Oklahoma, Dr. Chilson also worked in solid state physics, ultra-low temperature physics, and aeronomy.

Elizabeth Pillar-Little

Elizabeth Pillar-Little

Assistant Director, Center for Autonomous Sensing and Sampling
Research Scientist, School of Meteorology

Phone: 405-325-9467
Twitter: @AtmosChemDoc

Elizabeth Pillar-Little is the Assistant Director for the Center for Autonomous Sensing and Sampling at the University of Oklahoma, where she is responsible for coordinating the field deployments of sUAS teams from both an operational and scientific perspective. She also ensures the continuity of day-to-day center business and enjoys spearheading outreach and science communication activities on behalf of the center. She is also appointed as a research scientist in the School of Meteorology and leads the atmospheric chemistry research nucleus of CASS. Dr Pillar-Little’s research interests are broadly centered around atmospheric and environmental chemistry, but she is very passionate about atmospheric composition, aerosol optical properties and composition, and the interplay between aerosols and convection initiation.

Dr. Pillar-Little received her bachelor’s degrees in Biochemistry and Forensic Science from Mercyhurst University in 2009 and her Ph.D. in Chemistry in 2017 from the University of Kentucky. She completed a brief postdoctoral stint with CASS before being promoted to her current role in November 2018.

william doyle

William Doyle

Staff Engineer, Center for Autonomous Sensing and Sampling

Phone: 918-346-3698

Bill Doyle is the Staff Engineer for the Center for Autonomous Sensing and Sampling at the University of Oklahoma, where he is responsible for overseeing the main engineering and construction efforts of the center. Bill’s work has included building experimental weather towers, automating data collection, network and 3D printer administration, as well as UAV design and fabrication. Additionally, Bill has built gas analyzer multiplexers, off grid solar solutions, and an autonomous boat for river discharge research. Bill first joined CASS as a student where he designed and manufactured the CopterSonde 1 from scratch in 2016 for the EPIC field campaign. Along with building the infrastructure for CASS, Bill supports students and professors with their research projects. Bill’s interests include 3D printing, Robotics, drone racing, building computers, and automation.

Bill received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Oklahoma in 2017.

Laura Alvarez

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Center for Autonomous Sensing and Sampling

Phone: 405-441-4434
Twitter: @LVAlvarezRueda

Laura Alvarez is an NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Earth Sciences who is responsible for leading the earth science research nucleus of the Center for Autonomous Sensing and Sampling. She is also jointly appointed to the River Dynamics Research group at Simon Frasier University as a part of her NSF fellowship. Broadly, her research focuses on the use of physically-based models and autonomous systems as tools to understand the fluid dynamics and macro-turbulence in relationship with sediment transport and bed evolution in large-scale scale river systems. Most recently, Dr. Alvarez has been working on adapting algorithms of path planning for reconnaissance by applying machine learning in the development of autonomous robots, such as autonomous boats, Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USV) to deeply understand water-mediated environments, including bathymetry, flow features, object recognition, and material classifications. This technology can potentially be transferable to other platforms and robots.

Dr. Alvarez received her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the National University of Colombia in 2007. She then moved to Arizona State University where she received her master’s (2010) and Ph.D (2015) in Geography. While at Arizona State University, she was awarded the ASU Graduate Fellowship and Anthony Brazel Research Exam Award. Prior to joining CASS in 2018, Dr. Alvarez held a position as a Lecturer in the Department of Geography and Environmental Sustainability at University of Oklahoma from 2015-2017.

nailynn williams

Nailynn Williams

Administrative Assistant, Center for Autonomous Sensing and Sampling

Phone: 405-325-1593 or 405-397-4115

Nailynn Williams is an administrative assistant for CASS through the PEAK program at the University of Oklahoma-Noman campus. She is responsible for aiding senior staff with the continuity of daily operations, maintains the conference room calendars, and oversees resources shared with our sister center, the Hydrometeorology and Remote Sensing Laboratory (HyDROS).

Ms. Williams received her bachelor’s in Psychology in 2011 and master’s degree in Human Relations in 2013 from the University of Oklahoma. 

CASS recognizes the importance of incorporating diverse and interdisciplinary perspectives when seeking to address challenging research questions. Therefore, the Center has established an Affiliate Member program with the purpose of i) establishing a framework that promotes the exchange of knowledge for the mutual benefit of those involved; ii) extending the scope and reach of CASS; and iii) strengthening the research and education mission of the University. Affiliates are established leaders in their respective fields, who share common interests with CASS.

NameDepartmentResearch InterestsWebsite
Ken CarsonAviation StudiesCrew Resource Management 
Thomas HaysAerospace and Mechanical EngineeringsUAS propulsion systems, sUAS design and fabrication, system optimization
Petra KleinMeteorologyRemote sensing, boundary layer meteorology, low level jets, air quality
Elinor MartinMeteorologyClimate variability, tropical meteorology, extremes, climate change
Hernan MorenoGeographyWatershed processes, flood forecasting, hydrologic effects of land cover and climate change, remote sensing
Jessica RuyleElectrical and Computer EngineeringDevelopment and characterization of conformal, multiband, ultra-wideband, and reconfigurable antennas
Jorge SalazarElectrical and Computer EngineeringAntenna array architecture for radars, antenna and radar calibrations, radome design and modeling